Ireland seen as global hub for tech start-up accelerators

4 Nov 2011

DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship

Tech start-ups in Ireland and globally are on a serious drive to get onto accelerator programmes in Ireland, such as the DCU Ryan Academy Propeller Venture Accelerator Programme. Applications doubled for the next programme this week, outstripping places available by almost 95pc.

Applications to the fund, which provides capital investment and a three-month intensive mentoring programme for entrepreneurs, were received from more than 20 countries, including Ireland, Germany, Finland, USA, Australia, Iran, India, Israel, South Africa, Brazil, Rwanda and China. 

Other accelerators in Ireland include the LaunchPad start-up accelerator at the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) in Dublin. It is now open for applications from digital start-ups to take part in the next programme that begins in February 2012.

Terence Bowden, DCU Ryan Academy Propeller Venture Accelerator programme’s venture manager, said this morning that the second year of the DCU Ryan Academy’s Propeller Venture Accelerator Programme for technology start-ups was vastly oversubscribed, with applications outstripping places available by almost 95pc.

The interest being shown is a clear indication that Ireland is seen as a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation, both at home and abroad, said Bowden.

The Propeller Venture Accelerator Programme, which has been ranked seventh best in Europe in an independent study of accelerator programmes, commissioned by the Kauffman Fellows Program, was established in 2010.

Its aim is to fast-track early stage Irish and international technology start-up companies in Dublin. 

Each of the chosen companies receives €30,000 seed fund injection, tailored and targeted mentoring and training, as well as three months’ incubation with free space and services.

The chosen companies will enter the Propeller Venture Accelerator offices on 2 January 2012, and will be met by more than 60 mentors whose invaluable experience will be used to advise and lead these companies on a path of success.

While recruitment of mentors continues, many well-known businesspeople are already involved, including:

  • Bernie Cullinan, CEO, Clarigen
  • Frank Hannigan, chairman, Goshido
  • Liz Leavy, managing director, SPL Recruitment
  • Cathy Holahan, senior China market adviser, Enterprise Ireland
  • John Canacott, serial entrepreneur
  • Maurice Mason, partner, Irelandia Aviation
  • Liam Mullaney, managing director, Sage

At the end of the three-month programme, each company will pitch their business and products to potential investors from around the globe at a special ‘Demo Day’.  

“We are delighted with the huge level of interest shown from Ireland and all over the world because it highlights just how much this programme has to offer start-up companies and it’s a clear sign of the appetite for entrepreneurism and innovation in Ireland,” said Bowden.

“Our aim here at the DCU Ryan Academy is to find good people with good ideas, and give them all the tools and support they need to take their ideas to market. Ireland is awash with entrepreneurs, and we seek to help nurture and foster innovation.”

The first year of the programme, which finished in April 2011, brought huge success for the six companies that took part. Operating in technology areas ranging from mobile applications to clean tech, online gaming, health informatics and internet applications, the start-ups are now closing seed funding deals of more than €1m.

The companies, which include Associate Mobile, Fantom, GreenEgg Technologies, Healthcomms, Simple Lifeforms and VendorShopSocial, each employed two people when starting the programme. They have now created an additional 18 jobs since finishing the programme.

Speaking about his experience, Tom Byrne, CEO and founder of HealthComms, said the Propeller Venture Accelerator has been brilliant for helping his company move to the next level.

“It has truly accelerated our company by at least two years, if not more, in just three months. With easy access to a number of experienced mentors we were able to achieve results so much faster than if we had been on our own.”

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic