Irish Times Digital Challenge gives start-ups chance to win €50k prize

3 May 2012

The Irish Times, as part of its digital development strategy, has devised a plan to create an incubator hub for a number of lucky start-ups with venture capital firm DFJ Esprit. Qualifying start-ups can get access to a package worth at least €30,000 while the overall winner will receive investment worth €50,000 from DFJ Esprit.

A judging panel drawn from tech entrepreneurs, investors, and senior Irish Times personnel, will select several start-ups as finalists to work closely with The Irish Times and help them turn their pitches into revenue as quickly as possible.

NDRC LaunchPad, recently ranked as Ireland’s best start-up incubator, will run a mini-LaunchPad over eight weeks inside The Irish Times. This will include introducing participants to mentoring investors, marketeers and entrepreneurs so they can fine tune their business plan and path to revenue.

Each finalist will have access to facilities and services at The Irish Times building over the eight weeks. They will also have access to €10,000 worth of free legal services from Arthur Cox and €10,000 worth of free accounting and taxation services from KPMG between them.

The Irish Times will also provide €10,000 worth of marketing to each finalist start-up. A modest financial stipend will also be available. Each finalist will also be invited to present to investors and entrepreneurs at the Dublin Web Summit in October.

The deadline for entries is 5pm on Friday, 1 June.

The chairman of the judging panel Brian Caulfield, a partner at DFJ Esprit and a director of The Irish Times, said he believes the start-up scene in Ireland has never been more vibrant and creative.

“An exciting start-up culture in pursuit of a market experiencing major disruption is a recipe for entrepreneurial success. This kind of environment has produced many of the iconic companies of recent years, such as Google, Apple and Amazon,” Caulfield said.

Capturing the moment of disruption

The chief innovation officer at The Irish Times Dr Johnny Ryan, author of A History of the Internet and the Digital Future, explained The Irish Times has established its own idea lab to ensure the newspaper stays at the forefront of digital trends, as well as forging mutually beneficial relationships with emerging digital businesses.

“We are at a singular moment of disruption in the media business.

The Irish Times Digital Challenge signals The Irish Times‘ intent to radically innovate internally, and to team up with the next wave of disruptors to bring new practices and offerings,” Ryan said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years