€1.5m Waterford IT start-up programme open for applications

24 Aug 2016

The Waterford-based New Frontiers programme is accepting applications for its approved €1.5m fund, with dozens of companies expected to benefit from it.

With applications open until the end of the month, New Frontiers will be hosted at the new ArcLands innovation hub at Waterford Institute of Technology in September.

Targeting start-ups and entrepreneurs already advanced enough to be at the concept development stage of their journey, around 50 a year over the next five years will be welcomed into the fold.

New Frontiers

Of that annual 50, around 10 or so a year will make it through to direct funding rounds, with €15,000 available per company.

To get there, though, they must first attend what’s called ‘Phase 1’, which will see each successful applicant train for one evening per week, starting from 6 September, right through to December.

At this stage, the leading candidates will be chosen for Phase 2, which is when the funding kicks in. This phase will see training twice a week for six months, as well as the €15,000.

The full €1.5m raised to run this programme is spread out through funding into companies and costs to run the course.

In recent years, the programme has appealed to those in the medical devices and broad technology areas, with the call a fairly open one at the moment.

“Over the next five years, we hope to support another 250 entrepreneurs on Phase 1 of our programme, with about 20pc making it through to the second phase and access to EI funding every year,” said the programme’s project manager, Eugene Crehan.

Crehan noted that one of the trends he has noticed is that it’s less common to see applicants who are pursuing a new future following redundancy, rather it is a case of those looking to jump before they are pushed.

“People now have a choice of quality jobs open to them. Therefore, those applying to New Frontiers tend to be people who have significant domain experience and are considering leaving a job to pursue a business idea,” he said.

In July, it emerged that nine New Frontiers start-ups in Limerick were hoping to employ a combined 200 people by the end of the year. A Dublin variant of New Frontiers ran around six months ago, with over a dozen locations around the country running such programmes.

One of the most successful companies to come out of the programme was VT Networks, which has since raised €1.2m funding in its pursuit of creating Ireland’s first internet of things platform.

Earlier this year, Enterprise Ireland invested some €2.5m in ArcLabs, in a move that will double the capacity of the incubation hub.

Specifically, the investment will support a 1,000sqm extension to the WIT campus at Carriganore.

The expansion will significantly contribute to achieving the target of the 30pc increase in the number of start-ups in the south-east, it is hoped.

Main start-up image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic