Start Planet NI accelerator kicks off with nine global start-ups

25 Nov 2015

Bill Liao, SOSventures European Venture Partner is joined by Start Planet Programme Manager, Wayne Murphy (both seated centre) with the participant teams in the Start Planet NI Accelerator programme

Nine knowledge-based start-ups have begun an intensive three-month accelerator as part of Northern Ireland’s only equity-backed start-up accelerator programme, Start Planet NI.

For the last three months, the team at Start Planet NI, a partnership between Xcell Partners and Start Planet, has been attracting start-up teams from across the world that were competing to join the programme.

Following a highly-competitive application process where more than 300 companies from across Northern Ireland and 44 international countries vied for the places, the successful participants will now use the programme to fast-track their technology-based ideas for global markets.

Successful teams in the first intake have come from Brazil, Russia, Scotland and Republic of Ireland and they are joined by five Northern Ireland teams.

All of the companies will now be based in 112 Donegall Street, a new purpose-designed accelerator and co-working space in the heart of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.

Making Belfast the business start-up hub of Europe

This space is now part of a global network of SOSV Revolution co-working spaces from San Francisco and Schenzen, to Cork and New York.

The five-year seed accelerator programme is being backed by private sector investment through a bespoke Northern Ireland Startup Fund due to be launched in early December by Colman Equity, angel investor specialists. It will use an Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) as the vehicle to allow successful entrepreneurs and investors to invest in the Start Planet NI start-ups.

‘Globally, accelerator programmes are known to be a crucial ingredient in successful start-up communities and without such a programme Belfast was at risk of falling further behind other regions’

Led by start-up mentor and founder Bill Liao, SOSV European Venture Partner (also co-founder of CoderDojo and founder of, he is joined by Diane Roberts from Xcell Partners,  who is running the programme, and Wayne Murphy, Accelerator Manager from Start Planet.

“Globally, accelerator programmes are known to be a crucial ingredient in successful start-up communities and without such a programme Belfast was at risk of falling further behind other regions,” Liao explained.

“We believe that the introduction of Start Planet NI now represents the final part of the local start-up ecosystem here and we are delighted that so many international and local companies have viewed Belfast as their start-up location of choice.

“With this type of programme we can now help make Belfast the business start-up hub of Europe and build an entrepreneurial ecosystem, which can deliver long-term positive economic impact for Northern Ireland.”

The nine start-ups entering the programme are listed below.

NextInvest (Scotland)

Revolutionising banking, NextInvest aims to give you control over your financial decisions like never before. Leveraging the growing peer-to-peer lending market, NextInvest will offer a platform where the everyday person can deposit funds across multiple, transparent investment opportunities. Accounts will be connected to a debit card, giving consumers that much-needed liquidity and instant access to their money, whilst the money grows at reasonable rates.

Chill (Russia)

Chill is a textless and voiceless communication app that finally makes sense for wearable devices. Getting text messages and having to reply over your wearable screen is an awful experience and a real problem. Chill is a messaging language to optimise the use of wearable technology. Instead of texting, Chill will enable users to use a new icon language in a certain context to communicate with one another in a safe, quick and easy way, thus changing the way we connect.

UkkoBox (Brazil)

This start-up’s clever technology safely encrypts and spreads user files and data to existing cloud providers worldwide. Because each provider only stores parts of the files, everything is secured and accessible even if some of these providers suffer an outage or are hacked. UkkoBox limits the exposure to an impending hack attack and maximises the integrity and safety of customer’s data.

Clinishare (Northern Ireland)

Clinishare is a company designed to ensure your data can be shared with the stakeholders you intend it to reach, in a safe, secure and anonymous manner. Clinishare maintains an open source philosophy with its clients and facilitates internal IT practitioners in modifying the solution, offering flexibility of deployment and access to value-adding resources that can be applied to existing solutions within healthcare organisations.

Pavanu (Republic of Ireland)

Increasing numbers of people with mobility-related difficulties means we are approaching a critical issue we cannot ignore: accessibility and safety of the built environment, in particular, the millions of kilometres of footpaths and pedestrian areas in our world. Pavanu maps the pavement via a robotic device and mobile application that surveys the pedestrian built environment and quickly produces a comprehensive map of the area and seriousness of each problem and location.

Monea (Northern Ireland)

Monea has developed a new breed of software for the engine room of business, and for the people behind the scenes who keep the books balanced. It is a multi-platform web-based approach that allow clients to access and utilise software across a wide range of devices. Crafting a client-driven approach, it is designed to disrupt the tedious working patterns attached to using market alternatives, handing the reigns of creativity back to the user and into business.

AllforUs (Northern Ireland)

Charities spend massive amounts of their donors’ money on direct mail that is just not read.  At the same time, the public is saturated with marketing messages, bamboozled by choice, and has a healthy mistrust of where their money is spent. AllforUS has created a digital platform that is helping the public engage with trusted charities in a way that’s personalised to them and helping charities slash their marketing spend. The end result is millions of pounds more reaching the people who need it most.

Glistrr (Northern Ireland)

Glistrr helps event organisers to maximise revenues by leveraging data. Streamlining marketing and guest management processes with a suite of tools for ticketing and data analysis, Glistrr’s software helps organisers to better understand their customers. Having processed over 800,000 guests, Glistrr has gained significant traction and continues to expand into new markets, with customers in London, New York and Florida already using the platform.

Freelance Student (Northern Ireland)

Freelance Student is a digital platform enabling employers to hire student and graduate freelancers for digital projects in a simple effective way. Finding, hiring and paying a student or graduate can be a slow and difficult process for employers everywhere. With Freelance Student, you simply say what you need done, submit payment and receive the completed work from one its freelancers.

Disclosure: SOSV is an investor in Silicon Republic

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years