What are the most important and interesting home-grown tech funding deals so far this year? Adrian Weckler picks 10 of the most notable ones, some of them previously unreported.
What it does: Energy efficiency software and consultancy
Leadership: Norman Crowley, founder and CEO
Funder: Tikehau Capital (France)
Cool Planet may be better known to people in the east of the country as an eco-education installation in Wicklow's Powerscourt Gardens. But its Crowley Carbon subsidiary sells software and consultancy services to some very big global companies, combining eco-friendly energy procurement with savings on energy bills.
Cool Planet says that it has seven of the world's eight largest pharmaceutical firms as clients, including MSD and Johnson & Johnson. Four of the eight largest food companies are also customers.
French investment group Tikehau Capital's €31m gets it a minority share in Cool Planet. Cork-born founder Norman Crowley has a storied entrepreneurial history, having floated his Inspired Gaming Group in 2006 and selling The Cloud to Rupert Murdoch in 2011 for €85m.
What it does: E-commerce analysis
Leadership: Bryan Wiener (new CEO); co-founders Vol Pigrukh, Dmitry Vysotski, Kanstantsin Chernysh
Funder: Scaleworks (US) and Conviction Capital (Ireland)
Dún Laoghaire-based Profitero says that its algorithms allow its customers to increase their sales on mega-platforms like Amazon by around 70pc.
The algorithms, Profitero claims, help to "optimise" things like product placement, promotions and pricing compared to direct rivals, which the technology also monitors.
It says it monitors more than 450 million products on a daily basis across 8,000 retailer websites and mobile apps, including giants such as Amazon, Argos, Tesco and Walmart. It counts Adidas, L'Oreal, Molson Coors and Panasonic as clients. This funding deal saw a significant change in the leadership of the company, with Dublin-based co-founder Vol Pigrukh handing over the CEO reins to an American ex-Comscore executive, Bryan Wiener.
What it does: Workplace communications tech
Leadership: John Goulding (CEO, co-founder) and Joe Lennon (co-founder)
Funder: Tiger Global (US)
Communications platforms are a booming sector right now. Workvivo, already used by a lively number of firms such as Morgan McKinley, Netgear and Telus International, lets you communicate from other platforms, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Drive or even Salesforce.
The Cork-based firm has some impressive backers, including Zoom founder Eric Yuan. It recently opened a Californian office to see whether it can sell to US organisations. Tiger Global is one of the more aggressive US investor hedge funds at present, currently betting big on Slack, PayPal and Google. It has also backed Coinbase, Xiaomi, Zynga, Eventbrite and Glassdoor.
What it does: Privacy technology
Leadership: Shane Curran (founder and CEO)
Funders: Index Ventures (US), Sequoia Capital (US), Kleiner Perkins (US) Frontline VC (Ireland)
Of all the Irish funding deals so far in 2020, this one is arguably the most interesting.
Shane Curran is only 20 but persuaded Silicon Valley venture capital giants Index Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins to take a punt on a privacy tech startup 10,000km away. (The involvement of locally-based Frontline is sure to have helped.) The parallels with Stripe's Collison brothers may be superficial and glib, but they're still irresistible: a former BT Young Scientist winner who gets funding from the biggest giants to tackle one of the biggest functional issues of the current tech era. Evervault creates privacy 'cages', in which developers can deploy their new applications. "We're aiming to distil what GDPR did in 99 Articles down to a line of code," is how Curran describes it. "Think location data, banking data, payments data, kids' data, health data and more."
What it does: Mental health platform
Leadership: Ken Cahill (founder, CEO)
Funders: MemorialCare Innovation Fund, LRV Health, OSF Ventures, Unity Point Health Ventures
SilverCloud's latest substantial funding round was done before the Covid-19 lockdown, but it must now look like a very timely investment.
All over the world, health organisations are scrambling to provide safe, validated services online. SilverCloud's mental health programs are used by more than 300 organisations around the world, including over 70pc of Britain's NHS mental health services. The Dublin-based firm has now raised over $30m (€26.7m).
The funding round, timed to help with a US expansion, was led by a number of US venture capital firms with participation also from existing Irish investor ACT Venture Capital. This may become a trend in weeks and months to follow: I understand that OralEye's Toothpic tele-dental service (with Mark Moore as CEO) has just closed an additional multi-million funding round with Philips for a similar additional push into the US market.
What it does: Connectivity technology
Leadership: Barry Napier (CEO)
Funder: ACT VC (Ireland)
Cubic Telecom ultimately wants to connect as many things to its mobile data networks as it can - from cars and laptops to drones and tractors.
Its biggest statement so far has come through inclusion in big car marques like Audi, where its technology controls access to entertainment services or software updates.
But it keeps looking for deals with other major industrial 'verticals', from computer manufacturers to farm machinery vendors.
It bases a lot of its technology via dozens of 'virtual' mobile network deals it has around the world, giving it access to mobile data services in most major industrial countries.
From Dublin, it has then developed a lot of proprietary software and technology that sits on the sim card, or between the connected devices and the network, to manage everything more easily for the client company.
Dublin-based ACT, one of the most active venture firms by announced deals in Ireland this year, was the main agent behind Cubic's latest €11m cash injection.
Cubic has raised about €100m before this from investors that include the chip technology firm Qualcomm, Audi and the State-backed Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.
What it does: Voice recognition technology
Leadership: Patricia Scanlon
Funder: Elkstone Capital (Ireland), Asia (US)
It's been a long, steady march for Dubliner Patricia Scanlon, who has been developing children's speech recognition technology for over a decade. Much of this has been a painstakingly manual process, including the use of Android games and learning programs as testing tools.
Gathering such data can be trickier than adult voice samples because of additional regulatory and legal sensitivities around children's interaction online. But it looks like Scanlon's work is paying off, with important deals recently struck that mark her dataset out as occupying a valuable niche.
A regular guest on the Irish Independent's Big Tech Show podcast, Scanlon has also frequently pointed out her independence from the voice tech ecosystem giants, as well as the lack of any ad revenue focus. Even so, Soapbox stands out as a logical acquisition target for Amazon, Google or Apple, which have shown that they are noticing Irish startups more in recent years.
What it does: Gym software
Leadership: Conor O'Loughlin (CEO)
Funder: Octopus (UK)
Glofox described this €9m chunk of cash as a rounding off of its Series A funding, totalling some €18m. The company's software is aimed at gyms and boutique fitness businesses, giving them much more flexibility in running their own businesses.
It has reacted to the lockdown by launching a new element that lets gyms livestream to members stuck at home. In an era when Peleton, Fitbit Premium and the Apple Watch all show strong upsides in healthtech, a solid step on the rung in this business looks like a savvy bet for Octopus. It's also worth noting that Ireland now has a steady stream of former athletes and professional coaches who pivot into tech firms, with O'Loughlin being a former Connaught rugby player.
What it does: Online business travel booking
Leadership: Garry Moroney (CEO)
Funder: Draper Esprit
For some years, Roomex looked like it was poised to become something of a regional Booking.com. It had the aspiration and its timing was perfect.
But after struggling to hit the kind of user numbers that would see it going head to head with the global giants, it pivoted to being much more focused on business-specific travel. The idea is to target companies with features such as consolidated invoicing and better visibility of expenses.
Draper Esprit, which backed the company in its last €8m Series A raise in 2018, is betting that this is a savvy move. According to trade figures, it placed at least another €5m into the firm in early spring with little fanfare.
That puts the firm's funding at around €17m today, with Frontline VC early investors in Roomex's previous €3.5m round, along with Manna Aero's Bobby Healy and serial Irish tech investor Paddy Holahan.
What it does: Anti-fraud software
Leadership: Alan O'Herlihy (founder and CEO)
Funders: Ray Coyle, Carl McCann
Cork-based Everseen shot to prominence recently when attention was focused on its use by Walmart.
The US retailing giant uses it in combination with CCTV cameras and other pieces of tech to try to prevent theft and fraud at physical points of sale in supermarkets, especially self-checkout machines.
If someone puts something in their bag without scanning it, Everseen's system can alert staff. Self-checkout systems are considered more vulnerable to shoplifting, a problem Everseen says it can help address.
The Blackpool, Cork-based company claims to have a number of other retailers signed up or in the pipeline.
It has raised over €15m from some well-known Irish business figures, including former Tayto boss Ray Coyle, Trintech founder Cyril McGuire and former Fyffes chief Carl McCann.
Founder Alan O'Herlihy is the son of a small retailer in Glenville, Cork.