A consortium led by Dogpatch Labs has been confirmed as the winner of a €17 million five-year contract to manage start-up accelerator programmes on behalf of the State.
A network of innovations hubs led by Dogpatch and also including regional partners Portershed Galway, Republic of Work Cork and RDI Hub Kerry, will manage the NDRC (National Digital Research Centre), a Government initiative to invest in young digital enterprises and start-ups.
NDRC provides training, mentorship and investment to early-stage companies, primarily through its accelerator programmes. Dogpatch was one of three parties recently shortlisted in the tender process for the new contract, along with Sean O’Sullivan’s SOSV, and the former incumbent, which had run NDRC since it was established in 2007.
Dogpatch managing director Patrick Walsh stressed that under the new regime, dedicated programmes would be run in all the regions, rather than just focusing on Dublin.
“There will be money going down to the regions and we’ll be hiring programme managers to run programmes specific to the needs of entrepreneurs there. We’re focused on building competencies in the regions, rather than just running remote programmes,” he said.
Mr Walsh said that as well as regional offerings, NDRC would continue to run a national accelerator for about 15 start-ups each year.
“It is likely that we’ll actually have more start-ups coming through the accelerator as we’re minimising overheads while maximising support for entrepreneurs, including through the writing of bigger cheques for them,” he said.
Ignite, one of the UK’s most active regional accelerators, supported the winning bid and will provide international support and knowledge sharing with the network. In addition, five of the country’s top venture capital firms – Frontline, Delta Partners, Polaris Partners, ACT, and Atlantic Bridge – also put their weight behind the bid.
Portershed Galway chief executive Mary Rodgers said the consortium essentially represented a “national ecosystem for Irish start-ups”.
“We are committed to ensuring that companies coming out of the accelerators are globally focused no matter where they start out,” she said.
The previous management team of NDRC invested in more than 300 start-ups, with alumni including highly respected companies such as Boxever, Nuritas, Newswhip, Drop and SilverCloud Health. Dogpatch will now manage the current and future NDRC portfolio of companies, some of which are now based at its Dublin hub.
Notable start-up alumni to emerge from Dogpatch and its partners in recent years include Evervault, Teckro, Altocloud and Taxamo.
In addition to being the base for a number of well-known companies, Dogpatch is also home to the Alltech agtech accelerator established by the late Pearse Lyons, and of the Google for Start-Ups initiative, which is to be opened up to all NDRC participants.
“The digital revolution is all about trying, failing and innovating, and I’m pleased that Dogpatch Labs and its regional partners will collaborate to help the next generation of entrepreneurs get started,” said Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan.
The new NDRC programmes will take place in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Kerry, with applications opening in the first quarter of 2021.