Thursday 19 January 2017

Ten Irish start-ups powering Irish future

Published 18/10/2016 | 18:06

Movidius founders David Moloney and Sean Mitchell
Movidius founders David Moloney and Sean Mitchell

Irish entrepreneurial success is massive right now. Home-grown start-ups based all over the country are achieving global ambition while still being based in Ireland.

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From food to technology, DNA to offshore energy, here are ten Irish start-ups competing on the world stage and powering Irish future right now:

1.  Going Global in Tramore

Choosing Tramore as its headquarters instead of Silicon Valley, global company nearForm is bucking the trend.  Attracting engineers from across the globe to the Co. Waterford seaside town the company is doing things its own way and creating a ‘vision to transform the way that software is built’. Established by Cian Ó Maidín and Richard Rodger the company which specialises in bringing cloud computing to large companies, is now attracting big enterprise customers and are now in to multimillion euro turnover.

2.  Bringing Space Technology Down to Earth

Unmanned spacecraft landings, drone guidance systems, airport radar and driverless cars, next generation 5G telecommunications. Limerick has for years pitched itself as a hub of digital innovation, and futuristic IT firm Arralis has found its natural home there.

Its revolutionary new communications and radar system for commercial use has just won the Irish Times Innovation of the Year 2016 award. The company is now rapidly scaling and wants to ‘build the future of radar, wireless communications and geo-location’.

3.  100% Growth and 550,000 Hotels Worldwide

A massive 550,000 hotels across the world now plug in to the Roomex booking platform to save them time and money. The business travel software company, founded by Jack Donaghy CEO and Karl Glennon CTO has just raised €3.5m in funding and plans to hire 20 people in the coming months. The company recently won the Best Internationally Scaling Irish Business at the Dot IE Net Visionary Awards 2016.

4. Wicked Wholefood from the West

The food industry is on a major trajectory across Ireland right now.  Championed by the Food Academy start-up programme, Wicked Wholefoods is a new Irish-owned company established in 2015 based in Killaloe, Co. Clare/Tipperary. Founder Tara-Lee Byrne is now at the forefront of a movement to educate and empower people in Ireland and across the world to ‘make conscious, informed and sustainable food and lifestyle choices’. Her first two products, authentic 100% free-from granolas are already available across Ireland and the company has also started successfully exporting to the UK.

5.  Inspirational Innovation from Beats Medical 

Beats Medical CEO and founder Ciara Clancy was named the Cartier Laureate for Europe and received $20,000 in funding for her company.  Google are also recognising her ground-breaking work and awarded her and her company in their Adopt a Start-up programme.  Her smartphone app is a huge innovation for sufferers of Parkinson’s and it offers them soundwave treatment to help them gain mobility and help with their self management and quality of life.

6.  Ocean Survivor for the Off-Shore Oil Industry

The Nexus Innovation Centre in the University of Limerick has been the starting point for many hugely successful ventures.  Ocean Survivor is one of the latest.  Founder Kieran Normoyle from Limerick recently won €100,000 in the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn competition and was also a global finalist in the James Dyson Awards.  The personal protective safety equipment his company manufactures is aimed at the off-shore energy industry and anyone working over hostile cold seas to lessen the effects of hypothermia, promoting comfort and mental well-being in cold water survival situations. 

7.  DNA Technology from GenCell

Still in his thirties Limerick-based Kieran Curran sold his medical technology company, GenCell Biosystems after just 3 years for €117 million.   He has stayed on with the company, which develops state-of-the-art sequencing technology that allows labs to analyse DNA more quickly and cheaply than its competitors products.  The company is set to continue to have a massive impact on the future of healthcare, as it grows its genetics business.

8.  An Artificial Intelligence Hub for the World

Movidius, founded by Sean Mitchell and David Moloney, aims high and wants Dublin to become “an artificial intelligence hub for the world”. The company has been named ‘one of the 50 smartest companies in tech for 2016’ by the MIT Technology Review. The list includes giants such as Amazon and the company are continuing to develop their augmented reality and virtual reality devices with Movidius technology.  The acquision of the Irish chipmaker by Intel last month made headlines around the world.

9.  Hostelworld

Founded by Ray Nolan, Hostelworld is another of Ireland’s big start-up success stories.  The online booking system for hostels has had a tough year with bookings slowing in the aftermath of the Paris and Brussels attacks, but despite the fall in revenue the hostel-booking site has said it is still on-track to meet expectations for the full year. The company floated on the stock exchange late last year raising €180m in the process.

10.  Stripe – The Biggest Start—Up Success

Patrick and John Collison
Patrick and John Collison

Limerick brothers John and Patrick Collison were only 19 and 22 when they set up Stripe.  It’s one of the biggest Irish start-up success stories and is valued at $5b.  Operating out of Silicon Valley, the company enables websites to accept debit and credit card payments easily. The payments firm continues to expand and this month officially launched in Japan with a new investor on board.   “Every business in Japan can now sign up for Stripe”, they say.  Stripe now supports credit card payments in more than 130 different currencies, bank transfers, bitcoin and Alipay.

Whether Irish-based or Irish-created, these 10 Irish start-ups are powering Irish future today.

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