3 award-winning start-ups making moves from Ireland’s mid-west

1 Apr 2022

Patrick Dight, Sparwatch. Image: Morning Star Photography

The New Frontiers programme at TUS seeks businesses from the mid-west region with strong employment and growth potential.

11 business leaders showcased their start-up ideas in the New Frontiers 2022 programme hosted by the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS).

A sports-tech company focused on fencing, a cloud computing provider supporting charity fundraising managers, and a publishing platform for the creator economy were the big winners at the final event on 29 March.

The New Frontiers programme funded by Enterprise Ireland aims to accelerate sustainable new businesses with strong employment, growth and international potential, which would contribute to job creation and economic activity.

TUS, which officially opened last year with the merger of Athlone IT and Limerick IT, is one of many institutions around the country to run a New Frontiers programme.

“So many people have great ideas, identify compelling problems to solve and market-growth opportunities, but not everyone becomes an entrepreneur,” TUS president Prof Vincent Cunnan said.

“TUS are committed to fostering creative and entrepreneurial activities, in all their forms, in collaboration with our stakeholders to help support entrepreneurs and innovators and shape the future of our region,” Cunnan added.

Among this year’s TUS New Frontiers graduates is NeuroAssist Solutions, which is creating aided communication technologies. The start-up, founded by Joanna Perkowska, aims to empower people with speech and language difficulties and limited mobility to communicate more effectively with carers.

Other interesting ideas graduating from the programme include sports team management app Soogroo, mobile dance floor creator Mitchell Dance Platform, and slow fashion brand and educational hub Talú.

“This was a particularly strong group, showcasing the entrepreneurial talent of the mid-west,” Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme manager, Paula Carroll, said. “I look forward to seeing all participants further develop their companies.”

The Hartnett Enterprise Accelerator Centre at TUS is now accepting applications for the next New Frontiers programme. Phase one is set to commence of 27 April this year.

Here are the three start-ups that took home prizes at the TUS ceremony this week.

Start-Up of the Year: Sparwatch

Tipperary fencer Patrick Dight founded Sparwatch last year to “change how people fence”. The start-up’s technology captures data to provide insight for sports training.

Coaches can use the platform to gamify training sessions, while Sparwatch’s learning tools help athletes analyse their technique to maximise performance.

Business Innovation Award: Finedeeds

Finedeeds provides a common interface for non-profits and volunteers to engage with each other. Its CEO is Tipperary native Pauline Kwasniak.

The start-up said its platform can help resource-constrained charity fundraising managers by giving them tools to meet and exceed their fundraising goals, without expensive digital expertise.

One to Watch: Lexe

Lexe is the creator-economy digital publishing platform where writers and readers can connect. It was founded by Louise Mc Cormack from Limerick.

The start-up aims to help readers find the content they enjoy while supporting writers by using a shared advertising revenue model. Lexe’s current focus is working with journalists and writers in the environmental and sustainability sectors.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic