First Fridays by Dogpatch Labs goes all-island with Belfast start-up event

The First Fridays programme by Dogpatch Labs will be hosted in Belfast’s Ormeau Baths for the first time to give Northern Irish start-ups a boost.

First Fridays, the monthly start-up mentoring programme hosted by Dogpatch Labs, is expanding to Northern Ireland with an event in Belfast this Friday (7 October).

Originally started in Dublin and resumed this February after a break, First Fridays for Startups is a Dogpatch Labs programme that gives ambitious entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn from founders and mentors through curated workshops, advisory panels and fireside chats.

The event, held on the first Friday of every month, is now headed to Northern Ireland for the first time.

As well as talks from entrepreneurs, it will connect founders with more than 1,000 mentors from tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, HubSpot and Salesforce.

The event will be held in Belfast co-working space Ormeau Baths. Speakers include Dr Chris Armstrong, CEO of Overwatch Research, and Cathy Craig, professor of experimental psychology and CEO of Incisiv.

Ormeau Baths general manager Claire Dowds said that the First Fridays event will give founders “the best chance of succeeding north and south of the border” and encouraged all start-up founders to take part.

“Central to the event is its mentoring programme, which sees entrepreneurs get one-on-one mentoring sessions with employees and leaders from some of the world’s top technology companies,” she said.

“In another first, the event will expand to a second day to bring together founders, start-up hubs, politicians and investors to discuss the current environment for start-ups as well as opportunities for increased collaboration across the entire island of Ireland.”

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Connecting the whole of Ireland

Earlier this year, Dogpatch Labs expanded First Fridays from Dublin to other parts of Ireland, rotating across Galway, Kerry, Cork and Skibbereen.

In an interview with, First Fridays director DC Cahalane said that one of the charms of the relaunched programme is its focus on “decentralising” innovation in Ireland.

“Now, we can take all these multinational companies based primarily in Dublin and ‘unlock’ them such that it is completely irrelevant whether you’re in Belfast, Connemara or Waterford,” he said.

The Belfast event makes the programme an all-island initiative for the first time.

Some other speakers at the event include Dynamo Ventures managing partner Jon Bradford, head of regional engagement at the Royal Academy of Engineering Gillian Gregg, Techstart Ventures partner Jamie Andrews and investment specialist at Technation Gary Davidson.

Speaking of Friday’s event, Ian Browne, MD of the NDRC accelerator run by Dogpatch Labs, said that the move is part of a commitment to ensure there’s a broader effort to help and support founders in Northern Ireland.

“Entrepreneurship is a tough and challenging game. The right ecosystem supports can be the difference between success and failure. Geographically small ecosystems like Ireland should connect up the pieces to be part of a larger effort to help founders succeed,” he said.

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