New Founders talent accelerator aims to build next generation of start-ups

Programme run by Dogpatch Labs will match cofounders to help create innovative companies

A new programme aiming at bringing together potential co-founders to create start-ups has been launched by Dogpatch Labs.

Talent accelerator Founders is designed to match people from different backgrounds and skill sets with the goal of investing in people who will build new, innovative start-ups. The first of its kind in Ireland, it hopes to offer an opportunity for those hit by the recent lay-offs in the tech sector.

“I think everyone knows somebody, whether it’s a friend or a colleague, who has that entrepreneurial energy but they might not have had the idea or maybe met a co founder,” explained Dogpatch Labs chief executive Patrick Walsh. “This is a programme for people like that.”

The full-time programme, which is set to get under way in September, is seeking around 40 people to take part. Each will receive a monthly stipend, worth around €2,000 per person, to contribute to costs. That figure has been benchmarked against similar accelerators in Europe.


Participants will be split between those with an entrepreneurial or business background, or those with domain expertise, and those with technical backgrounds, such as software engineering, computer science, product building or PhDs in areas such as data science or AI.

The programme will also help to facilitate greater diversity and inclusivity, giving people access to talent outside their usual contacts, such as women entrepreneurs searching for technical co-founders in their network.

The regional hubs will also be involved in the talent search, with Portershed in Galway, RDI Hub in Kerry and Cork’s Republic of Work on board as ecosystem partners.

“It’s a first of its kind for Ireland, but we’ve seen examples of this around the world, these types of what they call talent accelerators, and we’ve seen how they become important building blocks of start-up ecosystems,” Mr Walsh said. “We actually saw a lot of Irish people leaving Ireland to go do these programmes, and we thought, why shouldn’t we have one in Ireland?”

The programme is being headed up by Jane Dillon, with the initial pilot phase funded by returns created by successful investments in Irish start-ups through the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC).

As part of the initiative, mentors such as Manna founder Bobby Healy and entrepreneur Áine Kerr will be on hand to provide advice and guidance. The programme will also have input from talent experts such as the director of the Immersive Software Engineering programme at University of Limerick, Stephen Kinsella.

At the end of the three-month programme, the start-ups will have the chance to pitch for €100,000 in equity investment, and a further three months in a follow-on accelerator that will help grow the company.

“This initiative marks a new pathway to entrepreneurship for many who may not have the network or funding to build a start-up otherwise,” said NDRC director, Jon Bradford “The programme adds a complementary building block to the existing start-up ecosystem”.

Applications are now open and will close on June 18th.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist