It is today announced that the contract to manage the NDRC (National Digital Research Centre) has been awarded to members of a new network of innovation hubs throughout the country by the Government.
Dogpatch Labs Dublin, Portershed Galway, Republic of Work Cork, and RDI Hub Kerry, which today launched the Irish Tech Hub Network alongside Ormeau Baths Belfast and Ludgate Hub Cork, will deliver mentorship-driven accelerator and pre-accelerator programmes and pre-seed funding to entrepreneurs across Ireland.
Over the five year contract the network will invest in globally-focused, ‘high impact’ startups, to create world-class internationally scalable Irish companies.
Ignite, which is the UK’s most active regional accelerator, also supported the bid and will provide international support and knowledge sharing with the network.
Dogpatch Labs, which led the tender, is located in the CHQ Building at the centre of Dublin’s Digital Docklands. It has become the heart of the Dublin tech community in recent years hosting mentorship sessions with the likes of Intercom’s Des Traynor, Nuritas’ Nora Khaldi, Pointy’s Mark Cummins, Voxpro’s Linda Kiely, serial entrepreneur Pat Phelan and many others. Speaking to Business Cork Republic of Work director Dan Kiely says, “This network will bridge and empower entrepreneurs across regions in ways that have not been possible before,” said Dan Kiely (who sold Cork-headquartered Voxpro for an estimated €150M), representing Republic of Work. “Strong networks have always played a major role in the success of businesses that I’ve been involved with, and our vision here is to increase and cement Ireland’s presence on the global stage of entrepreneurship, continuing our heritage of consistently punching above our weight.”
Notable startup alumni from the Irish Tech Hub Network include Evervault (the first Irish company to be backed by Sequoia Capital) and Teckro (who raised $25M from Peter Thiel’s Founder’s Fund) at Dogpatch Labs, Altocloud (acquired by Genesys) at Portershed, and Taxamo (a strategic partner of Deloitte) at RDI Hub. Republic of Work counts Dan Kiely (who sold Cork-headquartered Voxpro for an estimated €150M) as its Director.
“The next phase of the NDRC connects ecosystems across the country, with each regional hub representing a local centre of entrepreneurial excellence to support people in getting their ideas off the ground,” said Eamon Ryan TD, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications. “Being well connected throughout our regions as well as internationally means that we can share knowledge and grow together as a country. The digital revolution is all about trying, failing and innovating, and I’m pleased that Dogpatch Labs and its regional partners will collaborate to help the next generation of entrepreneurs get started.”
The network will deliver the NDRC programmes via “a hub and spoke model”, which sees each hub interacting with other emerging hubs, universities and incubators in its region to catalyse entrepreneurial support across every county in Ireland. Additionally, Google for Startups – a partner of Dogpatch Labs who supported the bid – will open its own global network partner programmes to the NDRC participants to encourage international growth.
“As we start the next decade, our vision is to drive a new era for entrepreneurship in Ireland in collaboration with the entire ecosystem,” said Patrick Walsh, CEO of Dogpatch Labs. “To achieve this, locally embedded innovation hubs will ensure that startup supports are delivered across the country. And with international experts as advisors and mentors, we’ll be globally connected to help ambitious startups scale internationally.”
Dogpatch Labs will manage the current and future NDRC portfolio going forward, and already counts many of those companies as members of its community in the CHQ Building. A key focus will be on maximising the portfolio’s success through new supports including networking opportunities, investor access, and preparation for building, scaling and securing follow-on funding.
Dogpatch Labs brings an entrepreneur-led approach, with an international mentorship network that will allow startups the best international advice to compete in a global marketplace. In addition to its regional partners, five of Ireland’s top venture capital firms ACT, Atlantic Bridge, Delta Partners, Frontline and Polaris Partners also supported the bid and have committed to providing expert support and best practices.
Startups have faced a challenging year, with COVID-19 impacting funding levels significantly. In response Dogpatch Labs have continued to deliver impactful mentorship programmes virtually, with initiatives including Patch (an accelerator for talented young people), First Fridays (mentorship for startups in Ireland), and a number of accelerator programs with ESB and Ulster Bank running successfully throughout the year.
Additional virtual programmes from the Irish Tech Hub Network include RDI Hub’s The Founder’s Circle (a space for founders to learn from each other), Portershed’s Validator (pre-accelerator for early-stage startups), and Republic of Work’s Lunch & Learn (weekly knowledge-sharing).
Ignite also runs the Northern Ireland startup accelerator and will share best practices with NDRC startups. “We wanted to be part of this vision to encourage cross-border innovation and create a collaborative environment for entrepreneurs in a post-Brexit world,” said Jon Bradford, co-founder of Ignite. “Innovation needs more bridges with like-minded entrepreneurs and we look forward to working with our colleagues across the border.”
The new programmes will take place in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Kerry, with applications opening in Q1 2021.