Dogpatch Labs Dublin and its regional partners – Portershed Galway, Republic of Work Cork, and RDI Hub Kerry – have won the €17m contract to manage the NDRC (National Digital Research Centre).
The network of innovation hubs will deliver “mentorship-driven accelerator and pre-accelerator programmes, and pre-seed funding to entrepreneurs across Ireland”. Investors will back globally-focused, ‘high impact’ startups, to create “world-class internationally scalable Irish companies”.
Dogpatch Labs, which led the tender, is located in the CHQ Building at the heart of Dublin’s Digital Docklands. It has become a hub for the Dublin tech community in recent years hosting mentorship sessions with the likes of Intercom’s Des Traynor, Nuritas’ Nora Khaldi, Pointy’s Mark Cummins, and Voxpro’s Linda Kiely.
“As we start the next decade, our vision is to drive a new era for entrepreneurship in Ireland in collaboration with the entire ecosystem,” said Patrick Walsh, CEO of Dogpatch Labs. “To achieve this, locally embedded innovation hubs will ensure that startup supports are delivered across the country.”
Notable ‘alumni’ from the various hubs include Evervault (the first Irish company to be backed by Sequoia Capital) and Teckro (who raised $25m from Peter Thiel’s Founder’s Fund) at Dogpatch Labs, Altocloud (acquired by Genesys) at Portershed, and Taxamo (a strategic partner of Deloitte) at RDI Hub. Republic of Work also counts Dan Kiely (who sold Cork-headquartered Voxpro for an estimated €150m) as its director.
Hub and spoke method
The partners will deliver the NDRC programmes via “a hub and spoke model”, which sees each hub interacting with other emerging hubs, universities and incubators in its region to catalyse entrepreneurial support across every county in Ireland.
Google for Startups, as part of its partnership with Dogpatch Labs, will also open its global programmes and ‘passporting’ benefits to the NDRC participants to accelerate international expansion.
VC firms also in on the act
In addition to its regional partners, five of Ireland’s top venture capital firms Act, Atlantic Bridge, Delta Partners, Frontline, and Polaris Partners supported the bid and have committed to providing expert support and best practices.
Ignite also runs the Northern Ireland startup accelerator and will share best practices with NDRC startups. “We wanted to be part of this vision to encourage cross-border innovation and create a collaborative environment for entrepreneurs in a post-Brexit world,” says Jon Bradford, co-founder of Ignite.
The new NDRC programmes will take place in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Kerry, with applications opening in Q1 2021.
The newly designed national accelerator programme will be open to globally ambitious early ventures and national and international entrepreneurs. Successful startups will receive €100,000 investment with founder-friendly terms, workspace in Dublin’s Digital Docklands, and a mentor-led programme delivered by international and national industry experts. New features include global trips, access to an international VC and corporate network, and a unique three-month programme to accelerate the growth, scaling and fundraising for startups after the accelerator.
Startups have faced a challenging year, with COVID-19 impacting funding levels significantly. In response, Dogpatch Labs continued to deliver mentorship programmes virtually, with initiatives including Patch (an accelerator for talented young people), First Fridays (mentorship for startups in Ireland), and a number of accelerator programs with ESB and Ulster Bank running throughout the year.
Further successful regional virtual programmes include RDI Hub’s ‘The Founder’s Circle’ (a space for founders to learn from each other), Portershed’s Validator (pre-accelerator for early-stage startups), and Republic of Work’s lunch and learn (weekly knowledge-sharing).
The Irish Tech Hub Network
The contract win coincides with the launch of the Irish Tech Hub Network, made up of Dogpatch Labs, Portershed, Republic of Work, and RDI Hub, with other best-in-class innovation hubs Ludgate Hub Cork and Ormeau Baths Belfast. The network will collaborate to share knowledge and resources to drive innovation across the island of Ireland.
More information – NDRC.ie.
Pictured above are Claire Dowds, general manager and Jenna Parker, community manager, Ormeau Baths, members of the new Irish Tech Hub Network.