NearForm raises first major investment to fund growth

16 Feb 2021

The Covid Tracker Ireland app. Image: Luke Maxwell/

US firm Columbia Capital has invested an undisclosed amount in the Waterford company, which develops contact-tracing apps.

NearForm, the start-up that developed Ireland’s contact-tracing app, has raised a new funding round.

The investment comes from US investment firm Columbia Capital and marks the Waterford company’s first major funding from an outside backer, though no figures were disclosed.

The capital injection arrives after a busy 12 months for the start-up. It was enlisted by the HSE and the Department of Health to build Ireland’s Covid Tracker app to assist with contact tracing. The company has since developed similar apps for authorities in Northern Ireland, Scotland and several US states.

Elsewhere, NearForm develops enterprise software for corporate clients using open-source technology. It counts Walmart and IBM among its customers.

Chief executive Cian Ó Maidín said the new funds will be used to grow the company’s staff across several departments including sales, marketing and engineering in both Europe and North America. It currently has 160 staff, mostly in Tramore, and plans to add around 40 people this year.

“The unprecedented events of 2020 have shown that both public and private sector companies must react quickly to meet the challenges of today’s world,” Ó Maidín said. “NearForm was founded on the belief that open-source technology has become best practice for delivering cost-effective, scalable and secure digital platforms at speed for the most challenging projects.”

Investor Columbia Capital usually backs enterprise IT and mobility companies and typically invests a minimum of $15m in a company. It recently participated in the $120m Series E round for geolocation company NextNav.

“As digital becomes the default form of interface for both commercial and civic organisations, creating software stacks that emphasise agility can unlock attractive options for even those with the most complex enterprise architectures,” Jason Booma, partner at Columbia Capital, said.

“NearForm has an expert engineering-led culture that reliably translates to achieving positive and cost-effective customer outcomes. We look forward to working with the company as it scales and expands globally.”

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin