Scale Ireland to host a regional start-up summit in Cork

Scale Ireland, the independent, not-for-profit body that represents Irish innovation-driven enterprises, will host a regional start-up summit in Cork next year.

Scheduled for 28 January, the Scale Ireland summit supported by Microsoft will be launched by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD, with the aim of discussing the many issues faced by start-ups across Ireland.

It will feature major players in the Irish start-up scene, including client life cycle management software company Fenergo, which was recently acquired by two private equity firms, and HR software business Workhuman, which achieved unicorn status last year after reaching a $1.2bn valuation.

Scale Ireland is a relatively new organisation that was initiated by a group of Irish start-up leaders in 2019 to promote and represent the sector. It is chaired by serial investor and entrepreneur Brian Caulfield.

“We are at an important juncture in terms of Ireland’s economic future, and it is critical that we get the feedback of founders across the country and learn about the issues and opportunities they are facing,” said Caulfield at the announcement of the summit.

According to Scale Ireland, there are currently more than 2,000 indigenous tech start-up and scale-up companies employing more than 47,000 people in Ireland.

Key issues

One of the key points to be discussed at the summit will be the issue of low representation of women in the space. While Irish tech start-ups raised a record €932m in the first half of this year, funding for companies with women founders declined from 11pc of the total to just 6pc.

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Martina Fitzgerald, Scale Ireland’s chief executive, said earlier this year that the overall picture is “stark” in terms of the total number of women founders and the level of funding they are receiving. “This highlights the need for additional support and training for women to develop their own tech business,” she said.

Other issues to be raised at the Scale Ireland summit include sustainability and Government initiatives such R&D tax credits, the Employment Incentive Investment scheme and the Key Employee Engagement Programme.

“To ensure Ireland’s tech start-ups play a significant role in our economic future, we are bringing together leading founders, investors and academics who will look at the best possible conditions for start-ups to succeed nationwide,” Fitzgerald said at the launch of the summit.

Start-up survey

Anne Sheehan, the new general manager of Microsoft Ireland, said start-ups are the “cornerstone” of Ireland’s economy and a core driver of post-pandemic recovery, which is why a clear understanding of the challenges faced by start-ups is crucial.

Along with Microsoft, Scale Ireland’s summit is supported by Irish VC firm Atlantic Bridge, Irish recruitment firm Hadfield Green and Cork’s Republic of Work.

Scale Ireland has also launched a survey in association with Microsoft that will gather the views of Irish start-up founders on key issues that affect the regional industry, including availability of capital, staff recruitment and retention, and tax incentives.

“We look forward to studying the insights from the survey to investigate the right ecosystem and opportunities for start-ups to expand both in the domestic market and beyond Irish shores,” added Sheehan.

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