Happy New Year to all our website visitors and programme alumni! I thought I would take this opportunity to look back at 2015, and to outline a few of the changes that will be coming to the programme in 2016.
2015: our best year yet!
2015 was a great year for the Enterprise Ireland team that oversees the New Frontiers programme. It was the fourth year the programme has been delivered across Ireland. So, not only were we able to discover the exciting new startups being created, but we also witnessed the amazing progress made by the entrepreneurs we have supported in previous years.
During the course of 2015, 1,121 people expressed an interest in the programme via this website. We had around 900 completed applications to Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 of the programme, with 150 entrepreneurs accepted to the 14 Institutes of Technology that deliver the programme on our behalf.
More anecdotally, we have noticed an increased awareness of the programme, with even some enquiries from overseas.
Our participants and alumni have been going from strength to strength. It was certainly a busy year for awards, with many participants finalists or regional heat winners in awards such as:
Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Finalists: Declan Bourke (YourWeddingPlanner) Enda Mahon (Mahon Solutions), Mark Bannon (VT Networks), James McElroy (HouseMyDog), Gail Condon (Writing for Tiny), and Shane Hassett (Wazp).
Google – Adopt A Startup Awards
Finalist: James McElroy (HouseMyDog).
BOI Startup Awards
Finalists: Hannah Wrixon (Last Minute Minders), Tara van Zyl (FeelsRight), Mike Morrissey (MyDealDoc), Sharon Kavanagh (Luminosity), Ryan Scott (DropChef), David Craig (Dublin Design Studios), and Conor Nolan (WattSpot).
I must point out that this is only a representative sample of the many and varied awards that our participants and alumni received. We know that many more of them were placed or winners in a range of business and industry awards, and we congratulate them all on their successes.
New Frontiers is proud of its role as a springboard for great startups. In 2015, 12 New Frontiers companies were awarded HPSU (High Potential Startup) status by Enterprise Ireland, and 29 were awarded a CSF (Competitive Start Fund) investment of €50,000 by the agency. These are substantial achievements, as only the most promising businesses are selected.
The New Frontiers national networking event was held on 5th November at the Northwood Crowne Plaza in Dublin, attracting around 180 current programme participants. The chance to network with other participants from around the country is always greatly appreciated by attendees. This year, we decided to facilitate this even more, with a highly successful ‘speed networking’ session. We also had a keynote speech from Raomal Perera (Adjunct Professor at UCD and INSEAD, and serial entrepreneur), and an afternoon of proactive round table discussions.
This year saw the first regional training days for Phase 2 participants. Training is provided by and held in the local Institute of Technology, but we wanted to open some of these up to Phase 2 participants from other locations, to offer more chances of networking and getting to know participants from elsewhere in the country. We held an event in Dublin, at Enterprise Ireland’s East Point headquarters, and another in Cork, at the River Lee Hotel. Facilitated by Alan Costello, these events focused on sales pipelines and finding customers, with valuable insights from speakers and plenty of opportunities for participants to ask questions relating to their own businesses.
In 2015, we also surveyed our past participants in order to gain more insights into their entrepreneurial journey and businesses. We had over 400 responses, spanning the four years the programme has been running. Respondents reported a total of 1,300 jobs created and a total annual turnover of €41 Million.
What’s to come in 2016
Our commitment to the programme remains strong. We have secured Enterprise Ireland board approval for the New Frontiers programme up to 2020, which has allowed us to plan for the future and to restructure the programme slightly – continuing to provide the proven format, but with some improvements.
In order to provide longer-term support to participants, and to keep our relationship with entrepreneurs going beyond Phase 2, we’re restructuring the way the programme will work in the future.
We have shortened the core phase of the programme (Phase 2) from six to five months, in order to provide a more focused, business-like environment. There will be a greater focus on follow-on support, including a total financial support package of €20,000 to successful participants. We have increased the programme intake, from 150 to 175 participants nationwide. We will also be implementing a consistent lean startup methodology across the programme.
As part of our ongoing commitment to New Frontiers, we have started to offer professional development for our Programme Managers across the country, which includes a two-day training course.
We will, of course, hold a national networking event again in 2016, and we will be expanding the number the number of regional training events.
All the best to our participants and alumni
Don’t forget, we’re here to support our alumni, no matter when you left the programme. Join us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and don’t forget to share your company news with us so that we can spread the word. And if you’d like to write for the blog, do please get in touch.