Applications are now open for NDRC’s new accelerator

4 Mar 2021

Image: © Drobot Dean/

As part of the new programme, successful start-ups will receive €100,000 investment and access to €1m in additional perks.

Last month, the new NDRC launched a series of supports across its four hubs, including one-to-one mentoring and a pre-accelerator programme.

Now, applications are open for the national start-up accelerator’s first accelerator programme, in which successful start-ups will receive a €100,000 investment.

NDRC will be one of the first European accelerators to adopt a ‘founder friendly’ €100,000 investment using a SAFE (simple agreement for future equity) instrument with an uncapped valuation with a 20pc discount.

Patrick Walsh, CEO of Dublin’s Dogpatch Labs and NDRC, told that a SAFE agreement is founder friendly because it removes complexity, making it easier for both founders and follow-on investors to understand.

“With a SAFE there are essentially only two terms to negotiate – the valuation cap and discount – and we’re being highly flexible with respect to these elements,” he said.

SAFE was originally developed by Y Combinator and aims to provide simple and transparent terms, reduced paperwork and lower legal costs and friction for founders. Walsh said it has been used by almost all Y Combinator start-ups and several other start-ups as the main instrument for early-stage funding in the US.

“Adopting this approach brings us in line with US best practice. We believe that adopting a SAFE also demonstrates NDRC’s desire to set a positive example for early-stage investment in the Irish ecosystem.”

This will be the NDRC’s sole accelerator in 2021 and 10 companies will be chosen to participate. From 2022 onwards, an average of 13 start-ups will be selected and split across two accelerators each year.

Each start-up will be coached by dedicated entrepreneurs-in-residence who have achieved international regard in the start-up ecosystem.

More than 40 entrepreneurial mentors will also participate in the accelerator. These include Mark Cummins, who sold his start-up Pointy to Google for more than $100m last year; Bobby Healy, co-founder of Cartrawler and drone delivery company Manna; and Áine Kerr, who led Storyful through an €18m acquisition before co-founding media venture Kinzen.

NDRC said successful start-ups will also gain access to €1m in perks, including 12 months of free office space, UX prototyping support, design experts, professional pitch deck designers and delivery coaches.

The cohort will also be able to access an extended mentor network consisting of more than 1,000 mentors from companies such as Google, Intercom and Unilever.

Who can apply?

Walsh told that NDRC is looking for entrepreneurs who are “building global solutions to global problems” in any sector.

We’re industry agnostic and open to founders from a diverse set of backgrounds, sectors and skillsets. The common characteristic is that they must be innovation-driven, internationally scalable Ireland-based tech start-ups,” he said.

The kind of start-ups we’re looking for will typically be at the pre-seed level, be developing or testing a minimum viable product or early product, have some early proof points with customers, and have a founding team that is working full time.”

Walsh encouraged curious start-ups and founders to get in touch if they’re thinking about applying. “We’ve designed things to make it easy to engage with us early. Every Friday, there is an opportunity to book into our ‘Office Hours’ across all the four hubs across the country,” he said.

The accelerator is supported by venture capital firms such as Frontline, Atlantic Bridge, ACT and Delta Partners, with each committing to mentor participating start-ups.

The accelerator has two phases over a six-month period, beginning on Monday 21 June and ending with a demo day held in September. Applications are open until Sunday 2 May.

Updated, 10.25am, 4 March 2021: An earlier version of the article stated that applications for the accelerator close on 7 May. This has been changed to the correct date of 2 May.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic