Start-up teams Soosokan from Trinity College Dublin and Visit from Queen’s University Belfast have been crowned as winners of the cross-border upStart programme, which is now in its fourth year.
Soosokan impressed the judges with its nearby search app based on geographic location, while Visit demonstrated a smartphone app which it hopes will revolutionise tourism by providing information about your surroundings.
The upStart entrepreneurship programme is co-ordinated on an all island basis between Citi Belfast and the Citi Innovation Lab Dublin.
The programme runs over two semesters in partnership with the School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity and the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen’s.
Teams of students studying for master’s degrees devised start-up businesses based on a new tech product or service. Each business plan had to provide a real market prospect and teams competed with each other to win prizes from Microsoft, Neueda and Citi to help them advance their technology product or service.
The 10 competing teams presented their business plans to an audience of over 80 people and to a judges Andrew Macadam of Microsoft, Dublin’s commissioner for start-ups Niamh Bushnell, Aron Dutta of Cisco, and Michael O’Neill of Kx Systems.
During the programme, the students were mentored by business advisors from Citi Belfast and Citi Dublin.
“What stood out for me with the start-ups was not just the creativity around the ideas but the enthusiasm for each other as a team,” said Deepak Jain, head of operations and technology for Citi in EMEA and regional CIO.
“I also learnt a lot about the competitor landscape surrounding the problems they were solving and how fast moving that is from non-traditional competitors.”