Local start-ups join international counterparts to accelerate their growth
Northern Ireland’s only equity backed start-up accelerator programme, Start Planet NI , has had lift off with 9 knowledge based start-ups from Northern Ireland and international markets beginning a 3 month intensive workout to deliver successful high growth businesses.
For the last 3 months the team at Start Planet NI, a partnership between Xcell Partners and Start Planet, has been attracting start-up teams from across the world that were competing to join the programme. Following a highly competitive application process where over 300 companies from across Northern Ireland and 44 international countries vied for the places the successful participants will now use the programme to fast-track their technology based ideas for global markets. Successful teams in the first intake have come from Brazil, Russia, Scotland and Republic of Ireland and they are joined by five Northern Ireland teams.
All of the companies will now be based in 112 Donegall Street, a new purpose-designed accelerator and co-working space in the heart of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. This space is now part of a global network of SOSventures Revolution co-working spaces from San Francisco and Schenzen, to Cork and New York. As well as benefitting from access to the Global Accelerator Network and a programme of intensive mentoring and support during the first three months, companies will have the option to stay on in the space for a further six months free of charge.
Importantly, the five-year seed accelerator programme is being backed by private sector investment through a bespoke Northern Ireland Startup Fund due to be launched in early December by Colman Equity, angel investor specialists. It will use an Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) as the vehicle to allow successful entrepreneurs and investors to invest in the Start Planet NI start-ups.
The Start Planet NI Accelerator Programme is being delivered by an expert team with an international pedigree. Led by start-up stalwart, mentor and founder Bill Liao, SOSventures European Venture Partner (also co-founder of CoderDojo and founder of WeForest.org), he is joined by Diane Roberts from Xcell Partners who is running the programme and Wayne Murphy, Accelerator Manager from Start Planet.
Speaking about the importance of such accelerator programmes to the local startup scene, Bill Liao said; “Globally, accelerator programmes are known to be a crucial ingredient in successful start-up communities and without such a programme Belfast was at risk of falling further behind other regions. We believe that the introduction of Start Planet NI now represents the final part of the local startup eco system here and we are delighted that so many international and local companies have viewed Belfast as their start-up location of choice. With this type of programme we can now help make Belfast the business start-up hub of Europe and build an entrepreneurial ecosystem which can deliver long-term positive economic impact for Northern Ireland.”
Diane Roberts, from Xcell Partners and Colman Equity said: “We know that supporting ambitious entrepreneurs to develop innovative start-ups is a critical part of Northern Ireland’s broader economic strategy. We also know how difficult it is to attract the best start-ups, given the growing number of quality start-up accelerator programmes across the world. To compete, we have put together a compelling proposition which combines private equity funding, innovative workspace, top quality mentoring and business support along with global networks and reach, ensuring we are offering the best start possible for these local and international entrepreneurs. We are confident that this approach will help build a strong and vibrant start-up community within the wider NI Knowledge Economy and put Belfast firmly on the map as a Start-up hotspot.”
Explaining what attracted him to apply to Start Planet NI, Kirill Chekanov, CEO and Founder of Chill, a software app company said: “From previous experience, I was familiar with the quality and reputation of other SOSventures linked Accelerators, and what value a start up like ours could gain from joining one. When it came to choosing a programme for our company to participate in we spotted the opportunity to join Start Planet NI. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity and believed that Belfast was a great location ideally placed between US and Asian markets. We had also known that the city and Northern Ireland was very entrepreneur friendly and that was definitely another big plus.”
Invest Northern Ireland is funding the operational costs of running the accelerator over the next five years.
For full information visit www.startplanetni.com or follow @startplanetni on Twitter.