Sunday 25 September 2016

Atlantic Bridge closes funding round in boost for Irish start-up scene

The deal is believed to be in the region of €100m, says Gavin McLoughlin

Published 28/02/2016 | 02:30

Atlantic Bridge is led in Ireland by Elaine Coughlan and senior figures involved include text messaging pioneer Larry Quinn, and Iona Technologies co-founder Chris Horn (pictured).
Atlantic Bridge is led in Ireland by Elaine Coughlan and senior figures involved include text messaging pioneer Larry Quinn, and Iona Technologies co-founder Chris Horn (pictured).

Irish venture-capital firm Atlantic Bridge has closed a funding round that will boost the money available to Irish start-ups, the Sunday Independent understands.

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The round is believed to be in the region of €100m and is a significant fillip for the start-up scene. Atlantic Bridge declined to comment.

Atlantic Bridge is led in Ireland by Elaine Coughlan and senior figures involved include text messaging pioneer Larry Quinn, and Iona Technologies co-founder Chris Horn.

Software company Iona went public in the late Nineties in what was then the fifth-largest Nasdaq float, raising around $140m.

Companies in Atlantic Bridge's portfolio include Quixey, which makes a search engine for apps; Swrve, whose product aims to help app owners increase monetisation rates; drone technology company 3D Robotics; and Openmind, which makes a cloud-based voice and text service for devices such as smartphones and tablets.

It has also invested in Movidius, whose chips will power a new virtual reality headset being developed by Google.

Atlantic Bridge has offices and staff in Dublin, London, Silicon Valley, Beijing and Hong Kong.

Coughlan made headlines last year for trenchant criticism of the business environment for start-ups in Ireland, attacking the 33pc rate of capital gains tax. A reduced rate of 20pc was later introduced by Finance Minister Michael Noonan in Budget 2016, but only applied to net chargeable gains up to €1m. It applies over the lifetime of the entrepreneur in question.

Prior to the Budget, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton had asked the Department of Finance for a review of the headline rate with a view to "a significant reduction".

Coughlan told this newspaper prior to Budget 2016 that Ireland was "no longer competitive for US guys… for the first time in my career, in 20 years, it's actually better for them to be in the States. It was never that way before. Uncle Sam knows how to tax.

"The up-case scenario is that an entrepreneur does very well and he sells the business, and in that scenario he hands over a third of his business to the State. Is that a fair allocation?

"The 12.5pc benefit is not a benefit to growth-companies or indigenous guys, because they're starting off and they're loss-making for the first five or 10 years.

"So what we actually do is we reward very, very big - massive - successful corporates, instead of the guys that have their roots here... and will in all likelihood stick here for 20 or 30 years."

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