The Start-up Island

By 2nd quarter of 2017, there were already 36 incubators and accelerators dedicated to supporting start-up activity in Ireland, with another six due to come online by year-end. Enterprise Ireland a government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets has comfortably exceeded its three-year target of supporting 550 start-ups by the end of 2016 with the final number at 629. Where before the common thinking in Ireland is that start-ups can only be founded in big tech hubs like San Francisco and London, these days start-ups have become a very important part of Ireland’s innovation scene.

Ireland’s new start-up vigor is very evident at the grass roots with data indicating a considerable percentage of young graduates going into opening their own businesses post-graduation. The downturn in the economic cycle in 2008 to 2010 had also a positive effect as it produced a large crop of entrepreneurs who are now front-runners in Ireland’s start-up scene.

A Favorable Funding Environment

A positive funding environment has also helped. The funds supported by Enterprise Ireland have helped more than €1.5 billion in investments in Irish companies over the past 20 years with the private-sector seed, venture and private equity firms also playing a significant role. Although majority of the start-ups still rely on immediate network of family and friends for support, this is starting to change with the emergence of funds and channels that are more organized and sophisticated.

The current crop of start-ups to watch come from a whole gamut of technology including wearables, internet of things (IoT), mobility, robotics, e-commerce, cleantech, apps, hardware and data management. This includes UrbanVolt, an energy-saving LED lighting firm which received a sizable €30M in first-round funding from SUSI Energy Efficiency Fund and WeSavvy an insurance digital platform that enables insurers, bancassurers, agents to engage more effectively with policyholders