8 Irish start-ups in the running to be KPMG’s global tech innovator

17 Sep 2021

Image: © Eigens/Stock.adobe.com

One of these eight start-ups will be Ireland’s entry for the KPMG Global Tech Innovator finals at Web Summit in Lisbon this November.

KPMG Ireland has announced the eight Irish companies shortlisted for the inaugural Ireland qualifier of its Global Tech Innovator competition. These start-ups from around the island of Ireland were selected from more than 50 entries.

At an event next week, participants will pitch their ideas and growth plans to a panel of judges. The overall winner will qualify for the final round of the KPMG competition at Web Summit 2021 in Lisbon this November, competing against finalists from 17 other countries.

Judges for the Ireland qualifier include Wells Fargo Bank International CEO Fiona Gallagher, head of Facebook Ireland Gareth Lambe, Draper Esprit partner Nicola McClafferty, serial entrepreneur Mark Cummins and KPMG Ireland managing partner Seamus Hand. The event will be broadcast live on Friday, 24 September.

Here we take a closer look at the eight start-ups that could be Ireland’s shot at becoming the next global tech innovator.

Akkure Genomics

Akkure Genomics is a health-tech start-up that builds software for clinical trials. Its platform uses natural language processing and artificial intelligence to match patients with relevant clinical trials. This matchmaking aims to increase the recruitment and retention of patients participating in trials.

The start-up was founded in 2019 by Prof Oran Rigby and Dr Amy Hollingworth. After launching a crowdfunding campaign on Spark Crowdfunding in late January, the company raised more than €1m within one week and closed its campaign with €1.2m from more than 300 investors.


This Cork-based start-up uses sensors and machine learning to monitor the health of honeybee colonies. ApisProtect collects temperature, humidity, CO2, sound and movement data from a single sensor unit installed inside a hive.

In November 2018, it closed a seed round of €1.5m led by Finistere Ventures, Atlantic Bridge Capital, Radicle Growth, The Yield Lab and Enterprise Ireland. The company was listed by Siliconrepublic.com as one of 25 European IoT and hardware start-ups to watch in 2019.

ApisProtect was founded in 2017 by Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy, Dr Pádraig Whelan and Andrew Wood.


CattleEye is a Belfast-based tech start-up that develops AI-powered video analytics to help livestock farmers better manage their business. The company says its technology can increase animal welfare and reduce carbon emission intensity by remotely monitoring cattle.

Founded in early 2019 by CEO Terry Canning and CTO Adam Askew, CattleEye announced earlier this week that it raised $2.5m in seed funding to commercially launch its AI-powered cattle-monitoring system in the market later this year.

Big UK retail players Tesco and Marks & Spencer are already using the tech, while the US-based Council of Dairy Cattle Breeding is trialling the start-up’s product to see if its data can be used to improve cow health through genomic selection.


Galway-based transport technology start-up CitySwift uses big data, AI and machine learning to collect and analyse data about bus routes to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs. It signed a deal in June with UK bus operator the National Express West Midlands to manage route planning for its 1,300 buses and optimise its services for passengers.

The former Siliconrepublic.com Start-up of the Week was founded in 2016 by former Citibank analyst Brian O’Rourke and bus industry veteran Alan Farrelly.

Last year, it raised €2m in a funding round led by Irelandia Investments, Act Venture Capital and former CarTrawler CEO Mike McGearty – all existing investors from a previous funding round in March 2019. The start-up said it would use this funding to launch its AI platform in the market and make additional hires.


Dataships is a Dublin-based start-up backed by Enterprise Ireland that is working to automate data privacy compliance. It aims to make complex issues such as privacy policies, cookie consent tools, GDPR and CCPA simple for SMEs.

Described by its founders as a “one-stop shop for data privacy”, Dataships closed a €500,000 seed round last year.

After participating in Acceleprise, a SaaS start-up accelerator based in Silicon Valley, founders Ryan McErlane and Michael Storan redesigned and relaunched Dataships in June 2020. By the end of that year, the company had landed around 40 contracts, with clients including Thérapie, Optilase and Icon Accounting.


This University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out is a deep-tech start-up developing a type of silicon-based quantum computer using new semiconductor technology. In May, Equal1 announced that it had made a “major breakthrough” by demonstrating a fully integrated quantum processing unit operating at 3.7 Kelvin.

Founded by Dirk Leipold, Mike Asker and Prof R Bogdan Staszewski, Equal1 is split between Dublin and California. The company was named NovaUCD’s spin-out of the year in March. Its research is supported by funding from Atlantic Bridge, Enterprise Ireland and 808 Ventures.


ID-Pal is a Dublin-based SaaS verification start-up that creates software for client companies to verify the identity of their customers securely in real time with “minimal technical effort”. Customers range from SMEs to large multinational businesses, including AIB, Elavon, Fexco, Mercer, One4All and Salesforce.

It was founded in 2016 by CEO Colum Lyons, previously a stockbroker for Cantor Fitzgerald and a high-frequency trader, and James O’Toole, who used to be a management consultant at Accenture.

Another former Start-up of the Week, ID-Pal raised €1m in a funding round last year led by Act Venture Capital and a number of private investors. The company said funds would be used to continue its expansion in Ireland and overseas.


Dublin-based Wrkit is looking to help create better working environments using an online suite of data-driven employee engagement and retention tools. It has created a development hub that supports users in getting recognised at work, while also helping them to further their skills.

Founded in 2016 by Peter and Mark Jenkinson and Tom O’Driscoll, Wrkit says its platform has more than 500,000 registered users across eight jurisdictions. Peter Jenkinson was one of 12 start-up founders to be nominated for Enterprise Ireland’s Founder of the Year award in June.

As well as its Dublin base, Wrkit has offices in London and Boston to serve its clients around the globe, including FedEx, Bank of Ireland, Hays, ESB and Vodafone.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic