By @SimonCocking

When and where is it on?

The Bridge to MassChallenge Cork application process is currently open to early stage start-ups and ambitious entrepreneurs across Ireland and will close on December 22nd 2017. Local and international expert judges will evaluate online applications to determine which 20 startups looking to scale internationally, will advance to a startup boot camp and an in-person pitch competition in Cork in February 2018. The semi-final competition in February will select the top 10 teams who will participate in an all-expenses paid startup boot camp in Boston in April 2018.

How many years has it been going?

Bridge to MassChallenge has been running since 2012. However, this is the first ever Bridge to MassChallenge partnership in Ireland, entitled Bridge to MassChallenge Cork or B2MCCork and it is run by Cork County Council and endorsed by Enterprise Ireland and Health Innovation Hub Ireland.

What was the inspiration to start it?

Cork County Council first approached MassChallenge to set up a partnership between Boston and Cork in that they could share in and expand on their existing ecosystems in the Life Sciences, Digital Health and Medical Technology Sectors. Cork County Council saw how important these sectors were in Cork and Ireland and believed these ambitious entrepreneurs and early stage start-ups should be helped and accelerated to scale internationally. MassChallenge were so impressed with Cork County Council, the Cork region and the sectors, that they decided to initiate the Bridge to MassChallenge Cork Accelerator Programme.

Bridge to MassChallenge was developed to strengthen innovation ecosystems and drive the creation of high-quality jobs by supporting entrepreneurs and connecting them to the MassChallenge global network. Using their tested model for driving economic development, MassChallenge bring world-leading expertise, experience, and connections to help their partners build ecosystems around the world and drive high-quality job creation. To date, they have collaborated with nine markets, further strengthening innovation ecosystems in Australia, Colombia, France, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Poland, Russia, and Spain.

What exciting things can people look forward to?

An all-expenses paid trip to the Boston bootcamp, international mentoring and a global support network and the opportunity to win a large prize fund. Even if applicants don’t make it all the way through the process, the feedback from applying will be very valuable, and if they go through the Cork or Boston bootcamps, no matter how far they go, they will gain from a huge part of the overall benefits and significant networking opportunities.

What opportunities are on offer for those attending?

Bridge to MassChallenge is the world’s largest, most start-up-friendly accelerator competition. It is a no equity, not-for-profit programme, that will help entrepreneurs across the Life Sciences, Medical Technology and/or Digital Health Sector to scale internationally.

This is achieved through their Assess, Build, Connect model:

· Assess: Map the applicants ecosystem, needs assessment and diagnostic

· Build: Build local skills and expertise through train-the-trainer and capacity-building programs for entrepreneurs and ecosystem actors

· Connect: Access the MassChallenge network and global markets

Following a national application process, successful startups will participate in intensive, multi-day boot camps in both Cork and Boston where they will receive:

· Tailored training and workshops

· One-on-one mentorship from top international experts

· Networking opportunities

· Unique access to the cities’ business ecosystems

Who will be speaking?

Bridge to MassChallenge have mentors and speakers based locally and all over the world. Their partners include Pfizer, Nestle, Microsoft, and DEL EMC to name a few.

What tips would you give to people attending to get the most out of it?

Apply now! Ireland was known as the Isle of Saints and Scholars, and you know, there is a reason for that – Ireland is an island filled with ideas, imagination, and the drive and passion to grow those ideas into fully-fledged, sustainable businesses. Bridge to MassChallenge Cork will offer the supports you need, just take the leap and apply.

How can people apply?

Applications for this ground-breaking Bridge to MassChallenge Cork programme close on Friday 22nd December. For further information see or contact Elaine Walsh, Bridge to MassChallenge Cork Programme Manager, on [email protected]<mailto:[email protected]>. To follow the conversation online see Bridge to MassChallenge Cork or #B2MCCork on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

Bridge to MassChallenge Cork (B2MCCork), Cork County Council’s ground-breaking start-up programme with Boston based MassChallenge, is endorsed by Enterprise Ireland and Health Innovation Hub Ireland.

MassChallenge will also reward the highest-impact start-ups through an international competition to win a portion of several million dollars in equity-free cash awards. Through their global network of accelerators, which have previously taken place in Boston, the UK, Israel, Switzerland, Mexico, Texas and now Ireland’s Bridge to MassChallenge Cork, MassChallenge have made a massive impact to the start-up community internationally. They have been driving growth and creating value the world over and to date, 1,211 MassChallenge alumni have raised over $2 billion in funding, generated approximately $900 million in revenue, and created over 65,000 total jobs.

Mentor for Bridge to MassChallenge Cork Paul Sturrock of Slingshot Venture offered some advice to interested entrepreneurs, “Entrepreneurs across Ireland need to apply now! This is a unique and once in a lifetime opportunity, one that many of us wish we had when we were starting out in the industry, and is not to be missed. Dedicate time and effort to your application, show us your drive and passion as well as your knowledge. Most of all, be sure to apply.”

To be eligible for the program:

Applicants must be based in the Republic of Ireland

Applicants must be in the Life Sciences, Medical Technology, or Digital Health sectors

Applicants must be proficient in English. The official language of the application and boot camp program is in English

Applicants must be an early-stage startup with less than $500K USD in dilutive funding or less than $1M USD in annual revenues

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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