Five high potential business who make it on to the second Ignite NI Accelerator will get the chance to spend three months in San Francisco building their startup after the intensive 12-week programme in Northern Ireland.

The IgniteNI Accelerator is run by Ignite, who have invested in more than 150 companies across the UK since 2011 and backed by Invest NI. They are looking for ten high potential technology startups to take to the next stage of development, each of whom will receive £15,000 of investment and a further £5,000 if they are relocating from outside Northern Ireland.

Each company receives nine months’ free office space in the Ormeau Baths, mentoring from world class startup founders and workshops with industry experts to help develop skills needed to start scaling.

Between March and May 2019 the teams will also meet top tier venture capitalists and business angels to raise investment for their plans, and be taken on trips to San Francisco, London and Dublin to develop their networks of founders, investors and advisers.

As an added bonus this year, Ignite has announced that five of the teams will also get the chance to spend an additional three months in San Francisco, the global hub of the technology world, and have their office space, travel and accommodation costs covered.

Tristan Watson, CEO of Ignite, said: “In our experience raising investment from US investors or launching in the US market can be transformational for European startups, but it’s also incredibly difficult to get your foot in the door and decide whether it’s a viable option.

“With the support of Invest NI, we’ve developed an extension to the IgniteNI accelerator programme that we’re calling the US Landing Pad. The idea is that we can give founders a helping hand to explore the possibility of raising from US investors and what would be required to launch in the US.”

The support is designed to help one founder from up to five companies selected by Ignite to travel to the US for the purpose of research and meetings. They’ll get a desk in a dedicated office in San Francisco, a £5,000 grant towards travel and living costs and further introductions to key people in the city and Silicon Valley.

Teams applying for the Ignite programme are expected to already have a product built and/or some early traction with potential customers, as well as ambitions to raise between £250,000 and £1m in the next year.

Paul McKeever, from Continually, was one of the ten founders to take part in the first IgniteNI Accelerator in 2018.

He said: “Our business is growing much faster as a result of taking part in the 2018 IgniteNI accelerator.

Even though I’ve previously built and sold a business, the accelerator really helped with so many of the challenges and opportunities in a startup. I got to learn from the mentors, the other founders on the programme and a whole range of experts. It has given me a lot of confidence in what we’re doing at Continually.”

Applications for the second IgniteNI Accelerator in Belfast are now open at https://www.f6s.com/igniteniacceleratormar-jun2019/ .

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