Irish start-up news from this week you might have missed

It’s been a busy few months for start-ups in Ireland, with two members of the community, Flipdish and Wayflyer, joining the country’s growing unicorn club.

A TechIreland report earlier this week also found that 2021 was a “landmark year” for Irish tech start-ups across all sectors, with 292 companies raising more than €1.6bn in funding – a 60pc increase over 2020 and the highest ever raised.

Here, we round-up all the latest news from Ireland’s thriving tech start-up ecosystem, from funding and investments to opportunities and international recognitions.

All things funding

Less than two years since it raised $2m in seed funding, Irish-founded fintech Umba has raised a fresh $15m Series A to expand its digital banking platform to three new African markets. Co-founded by former Munster rugby professional Barry O’Mahony and Tiernan Kennedy, Umba started off as a company that facilitates micro-loans to emerging economies in Africa – primarily in the Nigerian market.

Operating out of Lagos, Nigeria, Umba is now planning to expand its financial and banking products to three new underserved markets: Egypt, Ghana and Kenya. And those backing the investment that will deliver the push, according to TechCrunch, include some Nubank execs, the co-founder of Monzo, as well as investor and former Stripe employee Lachy Groom.

While Umba may be well on its journey to distant new shores, another Irish start-up, Replan, just embarked on its first one this week. Based in Cork, automation software maker Replan was launched on Monday (11 April) after a £2m investment round led by Hoxton Ventures, with an aim to “redefine supply chain planning”.

“Wrapped inside a fast, intuitive UI, Replan delivers cutting-edge AI modelling and optimisation capabilities to transform and scale production planning, empowering supply chain planners to anticipate and respond to disruption with greater intelligence and agility,” founder Richie Barter wrote in a blog announcing the company.

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Following its Irish launch, Replan is now eyeing the UK market, where it already has an office in London, and the EU market, as well as long-term plans to break into North America like any good Irish start-up with high potential.

Speaking of potential, Bowsy.com, the platform that connects recent graduates with employers, has bagged a €250,000 from Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Startup (HPSU) programme, which helps Irish start-ups scale internationally. Launched in 2020, Bowsy is on a mission to make it easier for students to find remote work in their field of study.

“It also allows Irish businesses to connect with future talent through meaningful project work while providing an alternative to traditional part time work for third level students,” said Bowsy CEO John Brady of the platform’s social mission.

Now connected to most Irish third-level institutes in Ireland, Bowsy’s next stop for expansion is just across the Irish Sea.

Opportunities and recognition

Meanwhile, for those looking for funding and support to scale their business, a number of opportunities have sprung up over the last week.

InterTradeIreland announced a €300,000 Seedcorn fund for start-ups earlier this week to help young companies in Northern Ireland take their business to the next level. With a top prize pf €100,000, the investor readiness competition is looking for pitches from start-ups that want to be a part of investor networks and get their names heard in the industry.

“We are hosting a series of free information sharing sessions in the coming weeks to help companies with their entries, and I would encourage all innovative young businesses to embrace the opportunities that Seedcorn can provide,” said programme manager Connor Sweeney. As a bonus, a special €20,000 prize is up for grabs for green energy start-ups.

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Another Northern Irish organisation working to boost the island’s start-up ecosystem is Catalyst, which announced a partnership with female entrepreneurship community AwakenHub on Wednesday. The collaboration will help AwakenHub increase the number of female entrepreneurs across the island of Ireland and beyond.

There’s good news also for entrepreneurs in rural Ireland, especially those in the Irish-speaking communities of the Gaeltacht. Údarás na Gaeltachta is now involved in an EU study that will look to boost rural social entrepreneurship with a focus on young people and women across local communities in Ireland, Sweden, Norway and Scotland.

“We want to investigate what support and what conditions are required for social enterprises in rural areas to be able to develop and prosper,” said Yvonne von Friedrichs of Mid Sweden University, who is the lead partner of the survey-based study of Northern Europe.

And finally, a Cork renewable energy start-up has bagged a coveted position at a Harvard University incubator programme called Climate Entrepreneur’s Circle. MyGug is one of 28 global climate-focused start-ups that will join the incubator this year with access to one-on-one coaching, legal counsel and Harvard’s strong industry networks.

Founded by Kieran Coffey and backed by Enterprise Ireland, MyGug has developed a food waste treatment system that turns the waste into biogas and liquid fertiliser.

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