The Synergy Centre at IT Tallaght hosted 13 Entrepreneurs who have just completed the New Frontiers Phase 2 Programme delivered at the Synergy Centre. New Frontiers is Ireland’s National Entrepreneur development programme, funded by Enterprise Ireland and facilitated in South Dublin by the Synergy Centre.
Over the six months of the programme, the participants received training in various aspects of business including market research, business models, product & business development and financial planning. This was accompanied by regular presentations and discussions with experienced entrepreneurs and mentors to guide them as they actively developed their idea into a business reality.
The showcase day is the culmination of six months full-time focus on developing their idea to the point where they have an investor-ready business plan, and many have also launched their businesses in this time. In addition to celebrating their achievement of completing the programme, the showcase day provides an opportunity to demonstrate their business to an invited audience of entrepreneurs, industry professionals and investors.
The day started early with each of the participants delivering a short business pitch to a judging panel to decide the destination of two prizes totalling €12,000; sponsored by Philip Lee and AIB. The standard of pitch was high with Julian Seymour of HBAN who chaired the judging panel commenting: “The participants in ITT’s New Frontiers Phase 2 programme have really applied themselves to building their investor ready propositions. The level of preparation and practice for the end of programme final pitches was evident in the both the quality and clarity of the pitches”. He added that he hoped to see some of them in the HBAN pipeline to pitch to angel investors in the coming months.
Paula Carroll of Enterprise Ireland, who is the National Manager of New Frontiers, informed the audience that almost 4,000 people have undertaken New Frontiers programmes nationally since the programme start in 2012. She also emphasised the importance of building their personal and business networks in her address to the participants. Ollie Hynes, 2014 New Frontiers graduate and the founder of Hub Controls which recently secured investment of €2.5 million, shared his insights into the struggles and successes of being a start-up. He also underlined the importance of leveraging the start-up eco-system through incubators such as the Synergy Centre and the New Frontiers network.
The formalities concluded with the much anticipated announcement of the two prize winners. Mark Baldwin of Globopod was the winner of the AIB “Supporting Start-ups” award which was presented by Shelly O’Brien, Manager of AIB Tallaght. Globopod is a software company that creates virtual reality educational content to post-primary schools. Eoghan Doyle, Partner at Philip Lee presented their “Invest Start” award to Oisin Hurley of Talk2MeMore, whose platform provides early years educators the ability to conduct assessments of a child’s language development without the need for a speech & language therapist present.
The showcase then continued with networking at the various business displays. Jenny McGrath of The Present Box was doing a brisk trade with her product which helps parents ditch digital distraction and reconnect with their children though play. Aoife Hanna of BeNutritionWise tempted guests with ‘Stool’ cakes to highlight their dietician led programmes for people with gastrointestinal diseases while Zizhou Liu of Telecam Labs demonstrated his deep learning software which diagnoses eye diseases such a diabetic retinopathy. For sports enthusiasts Brendan O’Neill of Leeg explained how his software removes the burden of sports league administration and provides immediate access to results on your portable device while Shane O’Sullivan of OS Big Picture Promotions demonstrated how their technology could display more relevant advertising to shoppers.
Rob Walsh of GroupLocal is developing a service for local restaurants to promote their special offers while for DIY chefs, Lorcan McNeela of Eastro provides gourmet meal kits to your door. Underlining the diverse range of innovative technologies and industry sectors reflected in this year’s programme John Byrne of CyberPlus Solutions explained his comprehensive risk management solution for SMEs; Rakhi Gupta of Viztronics demonstrated their advanced 3D Imaging solution for high tech manufacturing while Mark Kirwan of HaraData provides a contextual business information search engine. Magda Rzepkowska of Beta Inventions will revolutionise portable sanitation on construction sites and events with their new product launching in March 2019.
Reflecting on the last six months, the Synergy Centre New Frontiers Programme Manager, David McDonnell paid tribute to the significant progress that the participants had made over the six months of the phase two programme; noting that nine of the participants had earlier completed the part time phase 1 programme which helped them to validate if they had a scalable business idea before deciding to commit themselves to the full-time programme. “The completion of the phase 2 programme is not the end of their journey, but another step towards building their vision”.