Three Dublin City University student start-ups head to Intel’s Silicon Valley accelerator

9 Oct 2013

University of California, Berkeley

In a welcome move for the already-thriving tech start-up scene in Ireland, three student-led ventures from Dublin City University (DCU) have been hand-picked to join an elite group of 21 global start-ups who are this week taking part in an Intel accelerator programme at University of California, Berkeley, in Silicon Valley.

The three DCU start-ups are Notehome, Cent for Change and Agile Payments.

Sniffing out high-potential start-up ideas

The Intel Technology to Market Acc3elerator@UC Berkeley programme is a partnership between the Intel Foundation and the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship at the Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley).

They were the only Irish start-ups that were chosen to join the pool of 21 student start-ups at the Intel accelerator. This is a programme that nurtures new start-up ventures spawned by students. Such digital ventures are picked by Intel as they are deemed as having the scope to commercialise their digital ideas, and fast.

Each of these 21 start-ups was whittled down from a field of 40 applications from around the globe.

Scaling up fast; and being upbeat about business

The aim of the accelerator is to teach the most cutting-edge Silicon Valley start-up skills to entrepreneurs from around the world.

Ultimately, it is about providing such nascent digital ventures with real-world, immersive learning so that they can figure out how to successfully transfer their ideas into tangible start-ups that will one day have a societal benefit.

At DCU, the three start-up enterprises have been developing their business ideas as part of DCU’s UStart initiative, which aims to embed entrepreneurialism amongst the DCU student body.  

According to a spokesperson from DCU, Intel was impressed by their use of innovative, disruptive and scalable computing technology in a high-impact area.

Agile Payments is on a mission to provide a cashless transaction service for users of its platform. The idea is to enhance user experience and provide a more streamlined system.

Cent for Change is a service that offers the online banking customer a new way to donate to charity. This service provides customers with a simple way to donate the spare cent from their bank balance to a charity of their choice – be it something like Focus Ireland or MS Ireland.

Notehome is an online and mobile communications and payments platform for primary schools and parents. The goal here is to digitise the area of schooling so that parents, guardians and schools themselves will have more accurate information in real-time.

DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith said DCU was committed to fostering creativity, innovative thinking and an entrepreneurial spirit within its student population.  

“Our students and graduates involved in Agile Payments, Cent for Change and Notehome have fully embraced this ethos,” he said, adding that they fully deserve this opportunity to take their business ideas to the next level.

MacCraith, incidentally, will be one of the panelists discussing the topic of open innovation at the Innovation Ireland Forum taking place in Dublin this Friday.

Pertaining to the Technology to Market programme, Brendan Cannon, who is director of corporate affairs at Intel Ireland, said the accelerator aims to give students a “truly immersive” experience of being an entrepreneur.

“It gives the students the chance to learn from the marketplace, to work as teams to overcome failures and embrace successes, and to encounter the realities of creating a start-up,” he said.

The students flew to the US this week. They are undergoing three days of on-site training in Silicon Valley, which will culminate with a Demo Day this week. This is when the students will be pitching their ideas directly to Silicon Valley business angels and venture capital investors.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic