A new public database aimed at providing a detailed portrait of Ireland’s start-up scene is about to go live. The initiative aims to map, track and showcase innovation across the Republic to give a full overview of the Irish technology ecosystem.
TechIreland's primary focus is to promote Irish-born companies by developing detailed information on individual firms to a wide audience that includes investors, potential customers and the media.
Information to be collated includes key personnel, employee numbers, target markets, stages of development and amount of funds raised to date.
In addition to providing information on start-ups, the database will also include details about multinationals who have a local presence, venture capital and angel investors who have backed Irish firms, and the various tech hubs in operation.
TechIreland, which has been operating in beta version for the past year, is headed by former Dublin commissioner for start-ups Niamh Bushnell. Sponsors include the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, Google, Elkstone and Bank of Ireland.
The not-for-profit operation will seek to showcase key clusters and explore potential opportunities and trends in innovation across different sectors and regions. As part of this, TechIreland is seeking to build a team of advisers to represent 12 sectors with Prof Barry O'Sullivan (artificial intelligence), Ronan Furlong (internet of things) and Dave Anderson (fintech) among those already recruited.
Ms Bushnell, who stepped down as commissioner for start-ups in March, said TechIreland was urgently needed. "At the moment we don't know in what areas we are strong or why we're strong . . . We're not able to measure how many start-ups there are, where they are based, how much money they've raised and what those funds have been being spent on.
“While some of this information is available from various organisations, it is poorly structured and managed and not centralised,” she said.“TechIreland is a massively ambitious task. We’ll probably never have a complete record of Ireland’s technology ecosystem but we can get as near to it as possible.”
The idea for TechIreland came after Ms Bushnell spent time at Start-up Nation Central in Tel Aviv, whose chief technology officer Omri Baumer had started a similar service called Finder that listed Israeli start-ups.
“As commissioner I often had the frustration of never having the right data and looking a bit silly when I was pitching something and was not able to tell someone how many companies we had in a particular space and how much funding they had received,” said Ms Bushnell.
“It is shocking that we don’t already have such information to hand but many other countries are in a similar situation. We’re looking to reverse that situation so that everyone will know who’s who’s in the start-up space here,” she said.
Companies included on the TechIreland database can individually update their profile but are not required to do so as their progress will be tracked by the organisation.
D-Day for TechIreland is June 28th, when it will be releasing baseline data across all the sectors and key tech domains it is currently tracking.
As of Monday last, the organisation had more than 1,264 indigenous innovation-led start-ups listed on the database with information on about 200 companies being updated per week. It also lists more than 250 multinationals, 150 global investors in Irish firms and over 100 hubs.
While the data is not complete, what has been collated so far reveals that 29 per cent of all companies tracked have received funding to date. In addition, 64 per cent have released products.
Companies in the health/medtech sector have received the most funding followed by industrial technologies, green/cleantech, telecoms and safety/security.
“Without the data we can’t see if we’re getting value for money in areas where we can build real competitive advantage. With it, we can really build up a good picture of Ireland’s tech ecosystem,” said Ms Bushnell.