By Hugh Quigley see more by Hugh here.

Enterprise Ireland in conjunction with IADT’s Media Cube and DIT’s Hothouse Incubator Centre held their annual showcase event last week at the superb offices of William Fry Solicitors, highlighting the work of some of the current participants on the New Frontiers programme.

The aim of this nationwide programme is to support entrepreneurs along the challenging journey towards success.  The programme targets early stage start-ups that have potential to trade overseas and create local employment.  It is a 3 phase programme, providing a range of supports over the initial growth period, helping prepare entrepreneurs for potential external investment or independent sustainability.

After an introduction by the chairman of William Fry Solicitors, John Larkin, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. spoke of the importance of the start-up eco-system in Ireland.

It is always fascinating to discover the range of wildly-different ideas that entrepreneurs imagine, sometimes to solve a really specialist problem and sometimes to address a simple issue that everyone can identify with.  As an introduction to problems being tackled the event featured a short video of some of the current New Frontiers entrepreneurs explaining their unique product or service innovation.

Padraig Hyland, in the role of MC, hosted a question and answer session with a panel drawn from the 2016 New Frontiers participants.  Each panel member spoke about of their path into starting their business and of the trials, challenge and a few pivots along the way.  All spoke highly of the support system provided by Enterprise Ireland and how the expert advice provided had really helped make positive impacts to their businesses. Peter Devlin of LOCAL got a warm round of applause on telling of how, just the previous day, he had managed to secure a major deal with a supplier having made a connection via one of the Enterprise Ireland mentors.  Another panellist Jacob Claflin of CAMBRIST spoke with refreshing honesty of how he and his co-founders had assumed, given their combined huge knowledge of banking and payment technologies, they would have little to learn from the Enterprise Ireland team. However as they developed their business they were shocked to discover how much they had yet to learn.

Following the panel discussion the audience were entertained with the real life story from one of the first of Ireland’s great technology entrepreneurs, Dr. Chris Horn, formerly co-founder and CEO of Iona Technologies.  Chris spoke eloquently of how significant a factor in his success mentors had been, citing how much he had gained from listening to Kevin Melia, and learning from Kevin’s experiences working inside Digital Equipment Corp. and later, Sun Microsystems.

The main event was rounded off by a short speech by Orla Battersby, Head of Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start Up team.  She left the audience on a high note, explaining that the latest EI Competitive Start fund had just opened and welcoming entrepreneurs to apply for a potential equity injection of up to €50,000.

Find out more about EI’s supports at www.newfrontiers.ie or www.enterprise-ireland.com

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