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IADT UCD Partnership Offers New Opportunities In The South Dublin North Wicklow Area

Back in June, we announced that a new location would be delivering the New Frontiers programme. A contract between Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) and University College Dublin (UCD) will see NovaUCD delivering New Frontiers in partnership with IADT Media Cube. As we welcome NovaUCD to the New Frontiers family, we decided to see what this new partnership means for the New Frontiers programme locally.

IADT Media Cube was previously partnered with TU Dublin Hothouse (formerly DIT Grangegorman) to deliver the programme. The new partnership with UCD will provide funding for the IADT Media Cube and NovaUCD to provide the New Frontiers programme for the next five years, enabling up to 55 entrepreneurs each year to develop their innovative business ideas. It’s a welcome development for Ann Marie Phelan, Enterprise and Innovation Manager at IADT Media Cube:

“We had a contract with TU Dublin since 2013 and it was a really positive experience. Over that time, the startups emerging in the south Dublin, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, and north Wicklow area began to grow. We realised that there was an unmet demand from the startup community in this catchment area. This was one of the factors that led to us forming the new partnership with NovaUCD.” – Ann Marie

When you join the New Frontiers programme at a dual-location programme like this one, you get a fantastic value-added experience, with the ability to access expertise and supports that might not otherwise be available. In this instance, the two centres are approximately four kilometres apart and connected by a direct bus route which stops right outside both incubators, making it easy to go back and forth between the two.

“The partnership with NovaUCD is very much about targeting new founders who feel they have the skills to become entrepreneurs but are not 100% sure. It’s such an obvious alliance. By bringing together these two strands, we are reaching a far greater pool of entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs than we would have been able to on our own. NovaUCD runs a number of startup programmes, but none of them are for the very early-stage business owner. That’s what this partnership addresses – it’s a strategic move to consolidate the offer geographically.” – Ann Marie

New Frontiers doesn’t operate in a bubble, of course. A brilliant feature of the programme is that participants have a direct link with the third-level institution where their incubation centre is based, allowing them to tap into expertise and specialisations. At IADT, this means areas such as design, user experience (UX) and user interfaces (UI), data visualisation, film and animation, and cyberpsychology. At UCD, this means areas such as deep tech – nanotechnologies, medicine, and medical devices. The research collaboration is complementary and invaluable for early-stage entrepreneurs.

“Ultimately, I see this partnership being a huge benefit to entrepreneurs, providing a much more seamless access to networks, resources, and supports – helping them to grow their businesses. Both institutions have their own established relationships with funding agencies, VCs, and the angel community. Again, this is being consolidated.” – Ann Marie

The joint Phase 1 intake is in October and there has already been huge interest shown. Phase 2 will be starting in early March 2022 (check back to see when their application deadline is), with 13 places available. All participants will get full access to the facilities and opportunities on offer from both locations. They will be able to site themselves at whichever campus is the best fit for them. Mentoring and training will be delivered equally across both campuses, allowing the entrepreneurs to access the strength of two institutions.

“Anyone starting a business knows that the next door that opens to them could be one that adds significant value to the business. We want to ensure that there are as many doors as possible open to the entrepreneurs on our programme.” – Ann Marie

The IADT programme has had its fair share of highlights and successes. Alumni include Daniel Nugent of Ambr Eyewear, which blazed a trail in the blue light glasses market (they now sell into 68 countries); Paul McCarthy of Snapfix, a management system that has scaled significantly in the last years and recently secured over €1 million in funding; Keith Curley of GladCloud, a location marketing platform for global brands; and Cian O’Flaherty of SafeCility, an IoT system for monitoring lighting in large buildings.

“We’ve had so many success stories over the years. What I can’t stress enough to potential participants is that the skills our alumni learned, the help they received, are all centred around ensuring that they were building something that the market needed and understanding their route to market. Most entrepreneurs don’t start off with large reserves of cash and they are by nature more likely to adopt the bootstrapping approach. If that is how your thought processes work, New Frontiers is definitely the road to take. It allows entrepreneurs to fully validate the viability of their business idea without having to give away equity. You get the highest quality mentoring and training, plus you get income support. Alumni will often remark to us that if they hadn’t had this unique combination, they would have wasted a lot of time and money going down the wrong road with their business.” – Ann Marie

New Frontiers has been an extremely important first step for hundreds of early-stage businesses. Maybe it’s the ideal first step for you as an entrepreneur? If you have an idea, now could be the time to turn dreaming into doing. Get in touch today to register your interest. Registering your interest isn’t the same as an application; it gives you the opportunity to have a conversation with a Programme Manager and see if you meet the qualifying criteria and if the programme is a good fit for you.

About the author

scarlet-merrillScarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman is a content consultant, commissioned by Enterprise Ireland to fulfil the role of Editor of the New Frontiers website. She is an expert in designing and executing ethical marketing strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence.