Carole Brenan, EI, and Minister John Perry Launching the Fund
Do you know someone who wants to set up a new business in Donegal, Sligo or Leitrim? If you do, we would be grateful if you could please advise them of the following:
Enterprise Ireland has launched a new feasibility fund to help entrepreneurs research their business ideas. Funding of up to €25,000 per project will be considered on a competitive basis (up to 50% of eligible expenditure).
But…..please hurry as the closing date is this Friday, the 22nd of June .
This fund is open to applications from the ICT, Industrial and Food sectors including the following sub-sectors: Internet, Games SaaS, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Software, Telecoms, Lifesciences, Cleantech and Industrial Products. Full details of the fund including the application form can be found at http://www.enterprise-ireland.com/nwf
If you are a software company seeking funding, legal advice and mentoring, then you should be applying for this year’s ISA Software Investor Forum. This forum, organised by the Irish Software Association, the Irish Venture Capital Association and HBAN is both a ‘pitching competition’ and a workshop for all scaling companies looking to grow their business.
Companies will be given a platform to pitch their product or service to a panel of established investors. This is a great opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to connect with venture capitalists and business angels on the look out for new business opportunities. All participants will receive constructive feedback from the panel. For some it could result in investment in their company.
The forum will be attended by a number of accomplished serial entrepreneurs including Iona co-founder Sean Baker, Helix Health CEO Howard Beggs and Holignment CEO Declan Kavanagh, who will answer your questions and offer advice on a range of business issues. If you are having difficulties navigating legal issues like shareholding and IP protection, Thérèse Rochford from WhitneyMoore will also be on hand to answer your questions.
The closing date for applications is the 13th April 2012 and the event will be taking place in the Guinness Enterprise Centre on 10th of May 2012
If you think your company has the potential to be the ISA Software Investor Forum Company of 2012 apply now!
If you are an active investor or an early stage company seeking funding, then you will know that there is a lot of chatter and activity around angel investment at the moment.
Not surprisingly in these tough economic times there is a lot more activity around the start-up scene, as many people find themselves looking to generate employment and as always, investors look for new business opportunities.
Yet for all the successes and supports available at the moment to the start-up, Angel investment as an investment type, on the island of Ireland, it is still pretty fair to say that we are in the early stages when you compare us to the US, but also to many of our European neighbours, not least Scotland or even France. It’s clear that we need to keep educating, sharing knowledge and building our own expertise in Ireland.
And Angels don’t come in one shape or form. Forget the TV stereotypes or the Silicon Valley expectation when you think of the Angel. There is no Golden Pages listing, and for once Googling doesn’t seem to work either. But the appetite for Angel investment is out there, and I’d say greater than ever before. We just need to tap into it and bring together the start-ups with the angels, creating dialogue and deals.
One unique form of angel investment is that of the syndicated group, a category that entails bringing together a group of individual investors to act as one. One such group in Ireland are Bloom Equity who have recently closed a number of investments with Irish start-ups. Like most angel investors, this group is made up of people who not only bring cash to the table, but also critically experience and insight into growing companies ready for international expansion.
Xcell Partners will be hosting Angel Meetup2012 in Dublin, an event, targeting both Angel Investors and Entrepreneurs. We have gathered a group of speakers from north and south of the island, plus a truly unique international line-up. The event is headlined by internationally renowned angel investor Bill Payne. Alongside Bill on the panel of speakers are Gavin Duffy, Entrepreneur & Irish Dragon’s Den Presenter; Bill Liao, Entrepreneur & Micro Angel; Danny Moore of Loughshore Investments based in Belfast; Nelson Gray an experienced Scottish investor; and accomplished business leader Leslie Buckley.
The event is calling all entrepreneurs with a pitching competition where 4 budding start-ups will get the chance to receive some one-to-one mentoring from Bill Payne. In addition, we will be hosting a master class workshop for budding angel investors in the afternoon.
The event will be taking place at Startupbootcamp located in Barrow Street, Dublin, a recent initiative which is taking 10 early stage companies through an intensive development programme. To find out more about the event head to http://www.angelmeetup2012.com
EI are delighted to say that we have two complimentary tickets to attend Angel Meetup 2012 for readers of BestComnected. To be in with a chance to win these tickets, just leave a comment below – don’t forget to include a valid email address so we can contact you if you win! We’ll pick two names randomly and announce the winners here on the blog on Friday the 16th of March.
Update: Winners chosen (randomly selected using the draw sequencer at random.org), congratulations to Gerard O’Brien of recipebook.ieand Kevin Lowe of payByMobile - enjoy the conference gents!
This is a guest post from James Lawn, CEO of Polecat, a client of Enterprise Ireland. Polecat Founders James Lawn and Bronwyn Kunhardt established the business in 2008 and are both former executive board members of Microsoft UK.
For those that haven’t met us yet, Polecat is a software and services company that transforms digital content into strategic insights for executive level decision-making. Polecat’s software platform, called MeaningMine™, is the world’s first Virtual Analyst software solution that joins advanced search, text analytics and learning-based algorithms with innovative visualisations to deliver real time insights into any topic. Though I say it myself, it’s very clever, and I’m glad to say the AIB Seed Capital Fund (co-managed by Enterprise Equity), Enterprise Ireland and our existing private investors agree: Polecat has just completed a funding round of €850,000 to accelerate expansion of our operations. But it is not just our friends in Enterprise Equity and Enterprise Ireland I want to call out here, the support and enthusiasm we have experienced from the Irish academic world cannot go un-mentioned, including: our long-standing advisor Professor Pádraig Cunningham at the UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics, and Dr. Conor Hayes at DERI’s Information Mining and Retrieval Unit in Galway. Two great exemplars of how collaboration between the Irish business and academic worlds can support the development of a market-leading product.
This latest investment is a true vote of confidence in Polecat’s business strategy and technology development over the past 2 years. Having been declared “Best Emerging Technology Company” by Larry Ellison (CEO, Oracle Corp) in 2009, Polecat is now a fast growing company, currently with 22 full time employees, based in Ireland, the UK, the USA and the Netherlands. Polecat counts as customers the world’s largest companies, government organizations and consulting firms, including Shell, BP, HSBC, Silicon Valley Bank, Sony, Microsoft, Ernst & Young, McKinsey and EU, UK & Irish Government. Polecat already has significant revenues and is profitable. As well as accelerating sales of its virtual analyst software platform in the UK and Europe, this significant investment will allow Polecat to expand its global presence. The investment is expected to lead to the creation of 30 jobs in Ireland over the next three years and, if you are an experienced Java Developer, we’re hiring now!
Ireland has long been destination of choice for the biggest and the most ambitious companies in Information Technology and Software to set up major subsidiaries. Ireland has quietly made significant improvements in the startup environment and supports for its own growing number of locally originating high tech start ups. It now has some of the best soft supports along with probably the greatest amount of early stage funding, per capita, in Europe and one of the best in the world.
We in Ireland are now working to attract entrepreneurs with software and other innovative start ups to relocate here to benefit from the start up supports that have been put in place- the same advantages that have attracted the big companies. This new visa scheme is yet another building block in making Irealnd Europe’s go to location of choice for innovative start ups.
I am delighted that the Department of Justice has introduced this new visa programme. It shows the full commitment there is right across the different parts of government to making Ireland a destination of choice for innovative entrepreneurs.
The main criteria are:
Have access to funding of €75k through business angels, venture capital providers or a financial institution regulated by the Financial Regulator. Personal funding transferred to the State or a grant from a relevant State agency would also be acceptable.
The business must have a strong innovation component. Projects will be evaluated by an Evaluation Committee based on those who demonstrate a good idea or the potential to be a winner.
You’ll have to be quick about this one, as it takes place tomorrow (Tuesday, October 4), but we reckon that it’ll be worth your time and attention. As part of it@cork’s very popular monthly Tech Tuesday forums, Declan O’Mahoney, CEO of Maywentee, will be giving a talk about how the Firecomms startup emerged from Tyndall Technology in 2004, and the process by which it was recently acquired by a Chinese corporation.
Providing insight and knowledge in relation to the various levels of intricacy experienced in transferring technology from Tyndall to build what proved to be a business success story, Declan’s talk will be followed by a casual networking period with complimentary wine and cheese (sponsored by Reilly & Co, Solicitors, Commercial and Technology Law).
The event takes place tomorrow (Tuesday, October 4) at 5.30pm at Maryborough Hotel & Spa, Douglas, Co Cork. Attendance is free and is open to both it@cork members and non-members – the maximum number of places is 100.
Advance registration, however, is required. To register, click here. For further details on the event, contact it@cork’s Events and Marketing Executive Marie Fitzpatrick at 021-2307011, or email her firstname.lastname@example.org
After the huge success of Founders last year we were left wondering what was next from the Dublin Web Summit guys. This guest post from Daire Hickey, answers that question. While you’re at it, you may want to signup for the next Dublin Web Summit , which we in EI are sponsoring.
Cash strapped startups take note. Together with ESB Electric Ireland the Dublin Web Summit have put together a €40k prize funds for Ireland’s top startup. This is the second year of the Summit’s Spark of Genius competition. Former winners of the competition have gone on to great success. Datahug came to international attention after judges described the company as “LinkedIn on steroids”. Data Hug co-founder, Connor Murphy said,
“Winning the Spark of Genius Award changed everything for DataHug.
The award gave us a dream platform to introduce Datahug to a global audience of potential customers, media and technology investors. Within a few weeks we had hundreds of registered companies, coverage on TechCruch, and several meetings with leading international venture capital firms’
We cannot thank the organisers, judges and sponsors enough”
The existence of this enterprising competition indicates there is endless talent and innovation growing within the industry and we hope to highlight this further and encourage start ups to come forward and be part of something very special.
The purpose of this competition as part of the Dublin Web Summit is to highlight Ireland’s up and coming tech start-ups as well as offering our winner a support package of over 40K in cash and services. This is a fantastic opportunity to promote your start up and be seen by many of those in the tech industry. Whether your start up is in its infancy or you have developed a strong following within a short space of time, by entering ESB Electric Ireland Spark of Genius competition you will have an experience with your peers of great innovation and creation that will be immensely rewarding.
During this process, entrants will pitch their business to a number of tech leaders in a Dragon’s Den like scenario in advance of the October summit. Five finalists will then present in front of 1,000 people at the summit itself. The judges include Brian Caulfield of internationally renowned venture capital firm DFJ Espirit, Shay Garvey of Delta Partners, Mark Roden of Ezetop and TechCrunch Europe Editor Mike Butcher.
This is ESB Electric Ireland’s first year with the competition. Ken McKervey from ESB Electric Ireland says
“At ESB Electric Ireland we are committed to embracing innovation and new technology to offer value and choice to our customers. We are delighted to be able to sponsor this inspiring initiative at a time when the technology sector can play a leading role in our economic recovery”.
To enter your start up should be less than 2 years old and have less than 2 million invested in the business. You will have a purchased ticket for the October Web Summit and should you be chosen to be in our final 25 start ups you will get a second complimentary ticket from the Dublin Web Summit. Interested? Signup over on DublinWebSummit.com.
The application process for one of the top 8, DCU Ryan Academy’s Propeller Venture Accelerator, has just opened. This award-winning accelerator has a tremendous amount on offer for smart, winning entrepreneurs: €30K investment, over 60 mentors (including serial entrepreneurs and product/business specialists), office space and a demo-day.
The snag? There isn’t one – you get all this for a 6.5% equity stake, which is surely the bargain of the century.
The primary aim of Propeller is to boost early stage technology start-up companies with an emphasis on software, Web 2.0, informatics, clean-tech and applications.
Paul Healy, CEO Fantom and a noted serial entrepreneur, is full of praise for the venture:
Winning a place on the inaugural Propeller Venture Accelerator was like being plucked off the bus and placed on the bullet train for our business. We were given access to the most senior Irish business talent and an inside track to the Irish and international investment community.
Interest in the application process has come from far and wide, with expressions of interest outside Ireland from USA, UK, France, Israel and Portugal. The closing date for applications is November 2nd, although applicants are advised to apply early. The accelerator starts with the companies moving to Citywest, Co Dublin, on January 2nd next year. For more information visit the Propeller Website and get the Propeller PDF brochure.
Many startups owe their origins to their founders’ previous jobs where they spot a opportunity in the market and see the germ of a new business. That was the case with Dundalk based company Brandt; the company’s founders –Dermot Hannan and Beate Brandt – are veterans of the software localisation and translation industry.
The concept for Brandt’s flagship product, Shadow, comes from the management and engineering teams’ own experience where localisation and testing typically required a lot of manpower and was not always a very efficient process. Focused primarily on multimedia, e-learning, localisation and agile software testing, Shadow is an automation technology that saves software developers time and money in testing and translating their products – a sales pitch that seldom fails to get an enthusiastic hearing from customers.
“That was where the idea originated – it was to facilitate not just throwing people at a project but building our own proprietary system that takes a lot of the pain out of development and testing of software,” Brandt states. The company can either use Shadow itself on a project, or license it to a customer for translation, engineering or quality assurance tasks. Shadow is patented and has the potential to be a disruptive technology in the sector, Hannan believes.
Click to view the 2 minute Shadow Product Demo
Brandt acknowledges Enterprise Ireland’s help in the company’s early days. At start-up phase the company benefited from CORD funding and when international markets were experiencing pressures on budgets the Employment Subsidy Scheme proved to be a valuable support. Brandt has also taken part in the agency’s International Selling Programme which was found to be “excellent”. The company is currently applying for R&D grant funding which will help expedite Shadow’s launch in the global marketplace.
The company started in 2002 with four employees and now has 22 staff based in Ireland with a further 24 in Dalian, China. “Our hope would be to strengthen and broaden our software development team this year, hopefully bringing total numbers in Ireland to 30 by 2012,” says Hannan.
The company’s story goes against the standard narrative that lower-cost locations threaten jobs at home. “We’re keeping jobs in Ireland as a result of growth in China,” Hannan states. Staff based in the Dundalk office are in senior software engineering and project management roles. Balancing their experience with colleagues in the Chinese office is key in allowing Brandt to price competitively on customer projects.
As an example, Hannan cites a recent project to provide testing services for software that being translated into 25 languages across 22 different operating systems. Brandt successfully won business from competitors in India, which is widely recognised as the home of global software development. “The project was a four-month cycle and we brought it in early,” states Hannan.
While acknowledging business is “challenging” at the moment, the company is fortunate in working with some of the major names in international software publishing and hardware manufacture., The business is about 10-15 per cent ahead of target this year, and Hannan believes there is enough scope within the current workforce to grow turnover by another 25 per cent next year.
Like many Irish software start-ups, Brandt leaned heavily on services work in the early days to generate cashflow, but the goal was always to create additional value through product development. “We’ve reinvested profits back into the business. We always had the strategy of building the Shadow technology as an enablement tool,” says Hannan.
The company chose Dundalk as its headquarters because it is strategically close to the M1 motorway. In addition, Dundalk IT has one of the strongest software engineering courses in Ireland. Brandt has forged strong links with the college and has recruited half of its team from its graduate pool, and also offers work placements to undergraduates. “DKIT, the Regional Development Centre and the University of Ulster in Coleraine have made significant contributions to the company’s research and development efforts and will continue to play an important role as Brandt builds its international profile,” says Hannan.
This is a guest post from Michael O’Brien, Head of Marketing at EI client Celtrino.
What I love most about working in Celtrino, and the software sector in general, is that nothing stands still. We’re only back from exhibiting at Microsoft’s World Partner Conference in LA, and already we’re announcing our next step; an investment of close to €1million to develop our next generation of Smart Admin eInvoicing services on Microsoft’s Azure platform.
Our development, supported by Enterprise Ireland, is driven in part by the natural evolution of the technology as Celtrino has been a provider of SaaS based solutions in the cloud since the turn of 2000, but this announcement also heralds our overseas expansion and will enable a broader international customer base to access services such as e-invoicing and e-payments at a fraction of the cost in the today’s market.
This pure software-as-a-service play will position Celtrino for rapid global growth and is key to our overseas plan; it will enable a broader international customer base to reduce their trading costs by leveraging Celtrino’s supply chain information management and business process automation expertise.
I warmly recognise the role Enterprise Ireland have played in assisting Celtrino transition through the various stages of planning to executing an overseas marketing and sales strategy. Enterprise Ireland’s marketing intelligence and unique personal and industry relationships are invaluable in forging strong relationships with potential customers.