Ignite NI names 21 start-ups participating in Propel 2020

12 Dec 2019

Image: Ignite NI

A variety of Northern Ireland-based start-ups will take part in Propel 2020, from wearables to construction, and from medtech to agritech.

Today (12 December), Ignite NI announced the 21 start-ups that have been selected to take part in Propel 2020, a pre-accelerator programme beginning in January.

With the support of Invest Northern Ireland, Ignite NI has selected a new cohort of aspiring entrepreneurs who will launch their businesses during the immersive six-month programme. Of the 400 applications received, Propel accepted just 5pc.

Ignite, which has invested in more than 150 companies across the UK since 2011, views the number of applications as a positive sign of how Northern Ireland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is faring at present.

The companies that secured a spot in the Propel 2020 pre-accelerator will receive a £15,000 grant, 12 months free co-working space at Ormeau Baths, and the support of seasoned entrepreneurs from a vast range of businesses.

Programme director, Chris McClelland, said: “To see so many people starting businesses in Northern Ireland is fantastic. It has made the programme as competitive as some of the top accelerators in the world.

“The calibre of teams who secured a place on the programme is excellent and even getting these teams in a room supporting each other is an exciting prospect.”

The list includes some emerging entrepreneurs that may be ones to watch in the year to come, and also features a number of start-ups that have already made a name for themselves at the Invent 2019 start-up competition.

The start-ups taking part

Propel 2020 will provide resources and training to online home furnishing retailer and content publisher Dotmaker, which was founded by Paul Buckley and Christian Ritson. It will also assist AI-powered clinical decision support system Eolas Medical, which was founded by Dr Declan Kelly and Dr Rob Brisk.

Among the successful applicants was CropSafe, which was one of the 12 finalists at the Invent 2019 competition. Set up by two school friends, CropSafe utilises satellite imagery and AI to provide up-to-date crop survey information and recommendations to farmers. This start-up was also recently included in our list of 7 start-ups revolutionising the world of farming.

Also working in the area of agritech is Farm Compare, a start-up that helps farmers source machinery, which was set up by Karen and Oliver McDonald.

From tourism to content creation

Tourism start-up Fooday was also successful in its application. The start-up, founded by Phil Ervine and Caroline Wilson, plans to develop self-guided food and drink tours that can be taken by phone or by guide.

Then there is Flows 2 Forms, founded by Jeremy Lindsay, which allows business users to draw a flow chart of their information gathering process in a browser and convert this to a working web application in one click.

Also participating in Propel 2020 is Budibase, a no-code start-up set up by Joseph Johnston and Michael Shanks, which provides WordPress for web applications; Christopher Murphy’s edtech start-up Designtrack, which aims to “supercharge” UX careers; and Legitimate, a social enterprise that gives users confidence that the content they consume is from real people, while helping content creators grow their audience and centralise their content in one place.

Chris Matchett’s start-up Freeperiod, which offers educational software, timetabling and booking systems, will also participate, alongside Sarah Scullion’s Integra, which is a travel start-up focusing on helping people gain access to the “world’s best events”, and auto-generated newsletter start-up Lowdown, founded by Steven Hylands and Phil McClure.

And from construction to wearables

Another agritech start-up set to take part in 2020 is Machine Eye, which has developed intelligent safety and perception systems for plant and heavy machinery. This business is led by Brendan Digney and Michael Jennings.

In the world of construction tech there is Material Evolution, led by Elizabeth Gilligan, and MatHan Hub, led by Ciaran Gillen and Jack Trzewiczek.

Meanwhile, Laura Vergara and Cristian Castańo’s Netminds, which helps build relationships between businesses and universities, will join Personal Carer, the start-up founded by Austen Burns that made it to the finals of Invent 2019.

Finally, there’s PulseAI, a healthcare start-up hoping to transform cardiovascular care with AI, which is led by Dr Alan Kennedy; discrete smart jewellery company Stand, set up by Emma McQuiggan and Ben Lindsay; Dr Lucy Tallents’ environmental conservation start-up VerdantLearn; and future of work start-up Workplus, which is led by Richard Kirk.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic