New accelerator aims to make Ireland a hub for health-tech start-ups

20 Sep 2012

Johnny Walker, founder, Global Diagnostics; Martin Kelly, partner, IBM Venture Capital Group; and Jim Joyce, CEO, Point of Care, at the launch of HealthXL in Dublin

HealthXL is a new start-up accelerator that is on a mission to seek out the best start-ups that are using technology to disrupt the health and well-being space and bring them to Dublin to engage in a three-month programme, starting from early next year.

HealthXL is a collaboration between Startupbootcamp Dublin and is backed by companies such as IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, Reckitt Benckiser and Personal Health Solutions as well as a global network of mentors who will be giving advice on everything from marketing to accessing venture capital.

The 10 start-ups that qualify for the programme will be based out of the Trinity College Enterprise Centre in Dublin.

The aim of HealthXL will be to help such start-ups to scale, as well as giving them access to the expertise of pharmaceutical and medical device companies that are already based in Ireland.

In return for a small equity stake, each of the start-ups will get €15,000 in micro investment, as well as access to more than €160,000 in products and services from sponsors and partners during the three-month programme.

Martin Kelly, a partner at IBM Venture Capital Group, will be one of the mentors at HealthXL. Last night he spoke at the launch of the accelerator at Science Gallery in Dublin where he pointed to how technology is only scratching the surface of healthcare.

Describing HealthXL, he said the aim will be to “build a community of people who are interested in using technology to solve healthcare problems.”

Kelly spoke about how the genesis of HealthXL came about from both the Startupbootcamp accelerator and IBM’s SmartCamp programme, which now operates in 22 cities around the world.

Another one of the mentors on HealthXL will be Jim Joyce, a former country manager of Schering Plough in Ireland (now MSD), who set up the Dublin-based healthcare company Point of Care in 2007.

He said that HealthXL will be trying to capitalise on the intimacy of the Irish marketplace to leverage the expertise that is already here, such as pharmaceutical companies and indigenous companies that are operating in the healthcare space and to help start-ups on the programme get to market faster.

Enterprise Ireland is also supporting the programme. Naghmeh Reilly, a senior marketing executive from the agency’s overseas entrepreneurship division, spoke about how Enterprise Ireland wanted HealthXL to happen in Ireland.

“Med tech is a sector we are really interested in, especially for the US market. We will use our network of 30 overseas offices to promote this programme and we will introduce the start-ups to venture capitalists,” she said.

The next step for HealthXL will be a global awareness campaign about the accelerator in various cities. However, start-ups can now register their interest to enter the programme. is hosting Med Tech Focus, an initiative which over coming months will cover news, reports, interviews and videos, documenting Ireland’s leading role in one of the hottest sectors in technology.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic