Techstars is coming to Dublin. The organisation that runs accelerators and provides funding and mentoring to start-ups across the world is to run a new blockchain-focused programme in the city.
The accelerator will commence in March 2022 and will work with entrepreneurs building blockchain technology and tokenisation protocols. It is to be run in collaboration with Alphabit Fund, a regulated cryptocurrency and digital asset investment fund, and Launchpool, a regulatory-compliant investment platform.
The programme was originally intended to run in London but a decision was taken recently to relocate it to Dublin. This was in part due to Dubliner Shane McQuillan, vice-president of strategy at Alphabit, who lobbied hard for it to be held here.
The Launchpool Web3 Techstars accelerator intends to work with 10 start-ups each year over an intensive, three-month period, where the companies will receive funding, hands-on mentorship and access to workshops and resources.
"The strong growth of the Irish start-up ecosystem in recent years alongside the long-standing presence of the leading global tech firms in Ireland make Dublin an attractive talent hub for Techstars," its chief executive, Maëlle Gavet, said.
The accelerator has invested close to $16 billion globally in 2,600 companies, who between them have gone on to raise more than $50 billion. Among those who have taken part in its various programmes are 15 tech unicorns, including Zipline and Remitly, which was last week valued at $8.5 billion after going public.
Techstars is increasingly focused on Europe with plans to invest in about 100 companies there next year. Founded in Boulder, Colorado, in 2006 , Techstars runs accelerator programmes globally.
The organisation has close connections to Ireland with Eamonn Carey now managing the London chapter of the organisation, and Connor Murphy, who previously founded Datahug and who now leads Bridge, having formally run a Berlin-based accelerator.
However, while it has previously teamed up with Dublin City Council to run a start-up week locally and been involved in initiatives such as Launchpad, it has never run a full accelerator here.
Real or virtual
"Initially, when the idea came of holding the accelerator I think we all assumed it would be in London partly because Techstars has been running a programme with Barclays there for some time. But the more we thought about it, we realised it made sense to locate it in Dublin as there are huge investments being made in the space locally," said Laura Walsh, chief operating officer at Launchpool.
Mr McQuillan said applications are also invited from companies based outside of the State. He added that currently it was unclear whether the programme would be held in-person or remotely.
"Some may think that what we're doing is a little niche but that simply isn't so. It's fintech. The days of crypto and blockchain being niche products are well gone. Massive financial institutions like Fidelity and BNY Mellon are focused on the space, as well as some great early-stage companies. We want to find the best of these and help them become global successes," he said.