Belfast calling on international start-ups for StartPlanet NI accelerator

12 May 2016

Wayne Murphy, StartPlanet and Diane Roberts, Xcell Partners

StartPlanet NI, which stakes its claim as the only private equity-backed start-up accelerator programme in Northern Ireland, is seeking applicants from around the world to set up a base in Belfast.

StartPlanet NI has opened up applications for its second accelerator programme, with 10 places on offer. Half of these spots will be filled by companies from Northern Ireland, while the remaining five are open to candidates from further afield that could do with a Belfast-based launchpad.

Who should apply?

The programme is seeking tech-focused, high-growth-potential start-ups that, ideally, have been in operation for less than 24 months, and are looking for additional support for development and market potential. Applicants should consist of teams of two to four people and have a viable product developed.

Applications for StartPlanet NI are open until 27 May.

What’s involved?

In the first year of the StartPlanet NI programme, more than 300 companies from around the world applied and just eight were selected. This first cohort used the intensive three-month programme to fast-track their ideas for global markets, establishing Belfast as a go-to UK location for access to the European ecosystem along the way.

This year’s shortlisting process is expected to be just as competitive, and the selected 10 start-ups will begin a new three-month programme in September 2016.

Acceptance to the programme comes with private seed equity investment to the tune of £15,000, with the potential for further investment of up to £40,000 on completion. Start-ups will also receive mentoring, business support and co-working space amid a global start-up network.

All of this comes in exchange for 6pc equity stake in each business.

A compelling proposition

Xcell Partners’ Diane Roberts runs the programme along with accelerator manager Wayne Murphy and mentor, founder and investor Bill Liao.

In a statement announcing the call for applications, Liao, the accelerator programme lead mentor, noted that support for entrepreneurs to develop innovative start-ups is a critical part of Northern Ireland’s broader economic strategy, and, while accelerators play an important role in delivering healthy start-up communities, they are now competing with high-quality programmes from around the world.

“We have put together a compelling proposition which combines strong private-equity funding, innovative workspace, top-quality mentoring and business support along with global networks and reach,” said Liao of the StartPlanet NI offering.

“We know that, for many international start-ups, a UK foothold is important, as is access to the wider European market, so we believe StartPlanetNI is well placed to attract some of the hottest new businesses to Belfast, who will, in turn, help build a stronger local start-up scene.”

Start-ups can submit an application now via the StartPlanet NI website.

Disclosure: Bill Liao is a partner in SOSV, an investor in Silicon Republic

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.