Tag: innovation

Drone Consultants Ireland wins European Satellite Navigation Competition

Drone Consultants Ireland wins European Satellite Navigation Competition

Drone Consultants Ireland wins European Satellite Navigation Competition

Bruce Hannah, (Irish National Space Centre), Ian Kiely, Peter Downey and Keith Tracey (Drone Consultants Ireland) at the Galileo Masters

A huge congratulations to New Frontiers participant, Ian Kiely, and his team at Drone Consultants Ireland on being announced as the winner of the 2018 European Satellite Navigation Competition (aka the ‘Space Oscars’).

A Media Cube (IADT) company, Drone Consultants Ireland offers a range of aerial solutions and develops UAV ideas for companies looking to improve efficiency and safety. The company also runs Drone & Tech Expo in the RDS.

The European finals of the competition took place in Marseille as part of European Space Week. Drone Consultants Ireland’s entry, Jack in the Box,  is used for UAV Persistent Surveillance. Self-contained, tethered, and aircraft-deployable, the system provides real-time visual data and pinpoints locations to assist emergency services and disaster relief in remote or inaccessible areas. It monitors up to 300 square kilometres from a fixed position, with flight times up to 500 hours. It can also operate in adverse environments without risking lives.
Jack in the Box can provide reliable positioning data to support emergency services, environmental protection, government bodies, civil defence, and border control on land, at sea, and in remote locations. It offers benefits such as reliable real-time data, extended flight times, re-usable hardware, the ability to network multiple devices, variable payload options, and cost-efficiency compared to standard aircraft.

Drone Consultants Ireland New Frontiers company wins European Satellite Navigation Competition

Peter Downey, Ian Kiely, Keith Tracey (Drone Consultants Ireland) with Bruce Hannah, (Irish National Space Centre)

Congratulating Ian Kiely on winning the European Finals, Dr. Annie Doona, President of the Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dún Laoghaire praised the winning submission:

“We were delighted when Ian Kiely, a New Frontiers DIT/IADT graduate company from the Media Cube, won the recent Ireland Regional Competition of the 2018 ESNC Awards. To win the overall European Award is a remarkable achievement. I would like to congratulate Ian Kiely and his team and thank him for his engagement with the staff and students at IADT.”

Jessica Fuller, Head of the Directorate of Creativity, Innovation & Research at IADT commented:

“It is uplifting when a New Frontiers graduate flourishes on the programme and Ian’s success is well deserved. “The real value comes from the mentoring and financial supports available through the Media Cube. We are always looking to support entrepreneurs and innovators with a thirst for international success. It’s wonderful to see innovators like Drone Consultants Ireland being acknowledged and awarded for the risks they take. A considerable amount of effort and research made the Jack in the Box vision a reality. We look forward to working with Ian and Drone Consultants Ireland on future projects’.

The Media Cube works in partnership with Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Office in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Council and beyond. It provides state-of-the-art facilities including office space, meeting rooms, boardroom and canteen facilities, serviced reception areas and of course the best sea views from its rooftop terrace!

Ann Marie Phelan, Enterprise & Innovation Manager at the Media Cube and New Frontiers Programme Manager in partnership with DIT Hothouse, works closely with client ventures to help them formulate and refine their proposition and navigate the investment options available to support the growth of their start-up. She is delighted with how well the company is doing:

The success of Drone Consultants Ireland centres on the fact that they started from the premise of building their technology around the problems faced by the emergency services in dealing with natural disaster events. The technology was specifically tailored to address the problems of trying to properly survey inaccessible locations, the need to speedily determine whether there were injuries or fatalities and the need to identify the most efficient rescue route out of the disaster area. A classic example of responding to the pain points of those they wished to serve.

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Merrill

Scarlet Merrill is Editor of the New Frontiers website and founder of her own startup, Engage Content Marketing. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Immersive VR Education builds on startup success with a strong team

Startup events to help you end 2019 on an entrepreneurial high

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

Drone Consultants Ireland (DCI), were announced by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar as winners of the Ireland Regional Competition of the 2018 ESNC (European Satellite Navigation Competition) awards.

Drone Consultants Ireland (DCI) wins regional competition of ESNC 2018

Drone Consultants Ireland (DCI), were announced by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar as winners of the Ireland Regional Competition of the 2018 ESNC (European Satellite Navigation Competition) awards.

Drone Consultants Ireland (DCI) was announced by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, as the winner of the Ireland Regional Competition of the 2018 European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) awards.

DCI won the regional competition with its Jack-In-The-Box concept and will represent Ireland as they proceed to the European Finals which take place in Marseille at the ‘Space Oscars’ during European Space Week on the 4th December 2018.

Jack-In-The-Box is a self-sustaining, aircraft-deployable drone system that can be parachuted to remote and inaccessible locations, enabling it to gather critical data where natural disasters occur. This technology has the potential to assist rescue services in saving lives and calculating the safe and efficient deployment of resources.

DCI is based at the Media Cube in Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology (IADT). The company was founded in 2016 by Ian Kiely and Peter Downey to provide consultancy and support to a variety of emergency response services, government entities and private clients as well as organising and hosting the Drone & Tech Expo Ireland. Ian Kiely is a recent alumnus of Phase 2 of the New Frontiers programme at IADT.

Receiving the award, DCI’s COO Ian Kiely said,

“We are really excited to receive this award and are also looking forward to attending Space Week in Marseille in December to compete for the top awards. We believe this product has significant potential and we are working to bring it to market. DCI is a growing company and we are looking at partnerships and preparing for funding in the immediate future to launch a successful commercial product. We are grateful to the New Frontiers programme and for the ongoing support from Enterprise Ireland and The Media Cube at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) in Dún Laoghaire where we are currently based.”

Bruce Hannah, CTO of the National Space Centre and head of the Irish judging panel said,

“The Jack-In-The-Box entry from DCI demonstrates the potential which satellite navigation data holds to deliver life-saving new technologies to the world stage. The DCI entry leverages existing technology alongside innovation with exponential potential. We wish Ian and his team every success in Marseille.”

Annie Doona, President of IADT, praised DCI for their commitment to research and development,

“Innovative companies like DCI make more than a commercial impact – their technology has the potential to save lives in the aftermath of a vast array of natural disasters. Through their risk-taking and tenacity, we all stand to benefit and we wish them every success in the finals of the ESNC competition.”

For further information, contact Ann Marie Phelan, Enterprise & Innovation manager at the Media Cube, IADT: annmarie.phelan @ iadt.ie / 086 701 5922.

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Merrill

Scarlet Merrill is Editor of the New Frontiers website and founder of her own startup, Engage Content Marketing. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Immersive VR Education builds on startup success with a strong team

Startup events to help you end 2019 on an entrepreneurial high

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

Lean Startup using customer-focused development processes

Lean Startup: using customer-focused development processes

Lean Startup using customer-focused development processes

Originally published in 2011, The Lean Startup by Eric Reiss was an important moment in the history of startups. The book sets out a clear approach to developing new products and services that has established itself as the standard framework that startups now use to turn ideas into companies.

At its core, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses proposes that startups use a build, measure, learn framework in an iterative product development cycle that places the customer at the heart of the process. With each iteration, the lean startup method brings the company closer to achieving product-market fit by developing a product that serves a real customer need.

Get out of the building

The Lean Startup How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful BusinessesThe customer-focused development process which was originally developed by Steve Blank is at the heart of the lean startup. The answers about which features to build and which markets to target are to be found out in the field talking to customers, not at the whiteboard. The only way an idea can be turned into a successful business is through a process of validated learning and the lean startup lays out key steps to achieve this:

  • Identify your key “leap of faith” assumptions about your product and customer
  • Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to test these assumptions as quickly and cheaply as possible
  • Measure your customer reactions
  • Learn from the data collected during the customer development process
  • Change direction if your hypotheses are disproven (pivot or persevere)
  • Iterate on your original idea based on the feedback

Building a Minimum Viable Product – perfection is the enemy

The goal with an MVP is to push it out rapidly with a minimum of time, development effort and expense. If your team is in a position to develop a software product in-house it is easy to become obsessed with the quality of your offering and spend too much time building features and refining the user experience.

The unfortunate fact is that quality is irrelevant if nobody wants what you are building. Rather than building out out a fully realised product and then starting to look for feedback, in the lean startup approach, the idea is to build the most basic demo possible and iterate on it early and often with customer input. If your potential customers complain about missing features this can be used to drive product development in the next iteration.

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder

IMVU – a harsh lesson in customer validation

In The Lean Startup, Eric Reiss details how his startup IMVU spent months coding a complex backend system that would allow interoperability of various instant messaging clients. Once it was ready to ship they found that no one would even download their new 3D messaging client it in the first place, so the entire development effort went to waste. They had failed to test some of the most basic assumptions about their customers before committing to a development effort. The author comes to the crushing realisation that they could have learned just as much about their customers by creating a simple sign up page where they could have gauged early interest without committing to a costly development process.

Dropbox – a highly effective MVP

As a counterpoint to IMVU’s failure to validate with customers, the author describes how the founder of Dropbox used a cleverly edited video to show how Dropbox would work in practice, long before any actual software had been developed that would allow it to work in real life. Overnight, this video allowed them to sign up over 70,000 people who wanted to use the service, proving they were meeting a real market need.

Customer development over product development

Most startups that don’t make it have usually failed due to a lack of customers rather than a lack of product development. Placing the customer at the heart of the development process, as outlined in the lean startup, is crucial for a successful outcome.

Lean Startup methodology, along with Steve Blank’s customer-focused development process and Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas, provides an excellent framework that any startup can use to test its hypotheses with the market and develop products that serve real customer needs.

About the author

Dara Burke ShowhouseVR New Frontiers ProgrammeDara Burke

Dara Burke is a past participant of the New Frontiers programme in the north-west and the founder of ShowhouseVR, a virtual reality startup that enables users to visit spaces before they are built… [Read Dara’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Immersive VR Education builds on startup success with a strong team

Startup events to help you end 2019 on an entrepreneurial high

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

Innovation: give your SME a competitive edge with SBIR

Innovation: give your SME a competitive edge with SBIR

Innovation: give your SME a competitive edge with SBIR

Young companies tend to be perfect micro-cultures for the development of novel approaches to common problems. Enterprise Ireland manages a national pre-commercial procurement programme, Small Business Innovation Research Ireland (SBIR), designed to tap into this well of innovation.

Does your start-up have the drive and vision to come up with a workable prototype to overcome a societal problem? If yes, keep reading to find out what is involved in this great public-private partnership!

Public-private partnership through SBIR

SBIR is a global innovative pre-commercial procurement initiative. It aims to address public sector needs and more generally benefit citizens, through engagement with the private sector. The public sector body (or challenge owner) in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, identifies an unmet need or unresolved problem. The idea is for small businesses to present innovative solutions to government agencies and public sector bodies to resolve societal problems. Each problem statement is tested through a competitive challenge.

Each challenge is divided into two phases. Phase 1 is a technical feasibility study, and enables the company to really understand the scale of the problem. At the end of this phase, the companies present their findings and recommendations for Phase 2. A smaller number of companies are selected for Phase 2. Successful companies develop working prototypes that are tested in the field. Illegal dumping, flooding, and increasing the number of cyclists on city roads are just some of the challenges local councils have put to market through SBIR.

SBIR Smart Dublin announcement

(l-r) Therese Langan, Transformation Project Manager, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Marguerite Bourke, Manager, SBIR Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Nicola Graham, Smart Dublin Regional Data Coordinator.


SBIR Smart Dublin announcement

(l-r) Maeve McGonnell, LexIcon Library, Tony Lawlor, Challenge Champion (Bathing Water Quality) Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Therese Langan, Transformation Project Manager, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Marguerite Bourke, Manager, SBIR Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Ronan Herron, Digital Strategy Officer, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Mary Hegarty, Challenge Champion (Internet of Things) Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

SBIR Advantages for SMEs

SBIR is a unique and practical approach with benefits for both the public and private sectors. Public procurers can drive innovation in a direction that meets their needs. Young businesses are given the opportunity to put their prototypes to the test, giving them that all-important competitive edge upon entry to the market. An SBIR award is not a grant, rather it is a 100% funded development contract, where the company get to work hand in hand with the specifiers to address the problem at hand. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!

SBIR also provides opportunities for businesses to collaborate with other key stakeholders. After demonstrating success through a public procurement process, many products will go on to provide other real-world applications. Companies retain intellectual property rights over their product with certain rights of use retained by the contracting department. This enables the company to replicate the SBIR success in other public and private markets globally.

Thinking outside the box

Local authorities face a variety of challenges when managing cities and counties. Traditionally, when going out to procurement, authorities specify the type of solutions they were seeking. These pre-conceived specifications often made it difficult for companies to come back with novel approaches.

The beauty of SBIR is that it allows innovators from outside the local authority to look at a problem with fresh eyes, providing much more innovative solutions. Now, authorities can access and test new technologies that they might not otherwise have considered.

“For many years there hasn’t been the fast pace of technology, while searching for municipal solutions councils would have spent a lot of time developing what programs to put in place and what kind of infrastructure they might have. SBIR means that things move much faster and it’s much easier to go to the market and say ‘here’s our problem’.”

Philomena Poole, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County council

SBIR’s impact on Irish SMEs

By providing a budget for product development and feedback from reference customers, SBIR helps start-ups overcome obstacles to the commercialisation of their prototypes.

Take Sparrowatch as an example. This SME produces smart, low-cost security cameras. Company founder and CEO, David Tunney, had been developing and experimenting with different security camera ideas for a while and, through the SBIR Challenge, his security cameras became the solution to illegal dumping that local councils needed. Before he got in contact with SBIR, the business was not yet trading!

The growth and expansion of Sparrowatch is a typical example of how an unmet need in the public sector was addressed by the technological development of a small business. David Tunney is certain that the benefits of the SBIR programme were invaluable for his business and “unique, in that you can actually talk directly to your customers and get validation on your concepts”.

Sparrowatch is now working with all four Dublin local authorities in partnership with Enterprise Ireland in a bid to tackle illegal dumping and fly-tipping.

Case Study: Liberty Bell Project – safer cycling in Dublin

Conor Cahill and Síle Ginnane run a development company called FluidEdge Innovation. Conor has a keen interest in cycling and as well as volunteering with Dublin Cycling Campaign, he had worked on a wearable medical device and was keen to work on more Internet of Things projects. By chance, he attended an event where Sarah Scannell, the Walking and Cycling Promotion Officer for Dublin City Council, introduced the Smart Cycling Challenge, which aimed to increase cyclists in Dublin City. It felt like fate to Conor, and although there was less than a month until the deadline, he decided to submit a proposal.

The solution put forward by FluidEdge was deceptively simple. The only touchpoint for participants was a bell on their bike which they used to record actual or perceived obstacles to safe cycling, as well as positive experiences. But plenty was happening behind the scenes: the Bluetooth-connected device was generating data about hotspots, which were highlighted in real time so that authorities could be alerted to poor road conditions or poor behaviour by other road users. Unlike the numerous audit solutions already available, FluidEdge’s solution collected qualitative, as well as quantitative, data about the cycling experience.

SBIR Cycling challenge

(l-r) Mark Bennett of BikeLook, Conrad Christensen, Philip McAlesse, Conor Cahill (FluidEdge, creators of Liberty Bell)

Liberty Bell successfully completed Phases 1 and 2 of the scheme, with feedback from the various stakeholders being continually fed back into the project. Apart from the funding that supported the development of the Liberty Bell project, having Dublin City Council as the first customer was a huge benefit for Conor and Síle, and opened many doors for them. They have since gone on to win the international Bicycle and Pedestrian Challenge run by the Colorado Department of Transport (CDOT) and are looking for new cities to run the project in. You can find out more at libertybell.io.

Thinking of throwing your hat into the ring?

Niall Doolin of Cara Ireland had the following tips for small businesses thinking about participating in Enterprise Ireland’s SBIR programme:

  1. Be attentive to the needs of the client – remember the SBIR process is demand-driven.
  2. Keep it as simple as possible – good ideas are not always complicated (as demonstrated by the Liberty Bell solution)!
  3. Don’t lose sight of future expansions and add-ons – the potential for commercialisation is a major advantage of participating in the SBIR process.

Enterprise Ireland’s SBIR programme provides fertile ground for small or young businesses to put their innovative ideas to the test. The programme has a dedicated fund to co-support innovative and competitive challenges. The experience provides a route to market for products that may, unknown to their creators, be the solution to an ongoing public service challenge.

Next steps

SBIR Ireland is managed by Marguerite Bourke. You can get in touch with the SBIR office at sbirireland @ enterprise-ireland . com or by calling 01 727 2178. You can also follow them on Twitter.

You can check out what SBIR projects are currently open for offers by logging into your eTenders account, or you can see a preview by visiting the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) section of the Enterprise Ireland website.

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Merrill

Scarlet Merrill is Editor of the New Frontiers website and founder of her own startup, Engage Content Marketing. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Immersive VR Education builds on startup success with a strong team

Startup events to help you end 2019 on an entrepreneurial high

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

scriba - dublin design studio/david craig new frontiers alumnus

Featured startup: Dublin Design Studio (Scriba)

scriba - dublin design studio/david craig new frontiers alumnus

David Craig is the founder of Dublin Design Studio and inventor of Scriba, a new generation of stylus for mobile devices. David wrote an article for New Frontiers over two years ago, recalling his journey through the early-stage development of Scriba, up to its highly successful Kickstarter campaign in August 2015.

We thought it would be a good idea to catch up with David, as he prepares to send out the first batch of Scribas to his Kickstarter backers. It’s been a longer production period than expected, but the product has undergone a few significant improvements, which David hopes will make it worth the wait.

Let’s get back to summer 2015. The team had already experienced the trials and tribulations of hardware development and had fully working prototypes. The discussion moved on to materials, manufacturing, logistics, and the other elements involved in delivering a quality, shop-ready product. David was clear he wanted to manufacture in Ireland, instead of going the somewhat obvious route of finding a plant in China.

David was introduced to the business development manager from Hasbro – the famous toy manufacturer – who was able to offer a partnership with Cartamundi, their Waterford-based manufacturing arm. With a strong manufacturing support, this meant the team could move into the design for manufacturability (DFM) phase. A whole new language had to be learnt at this point, as David worked with engineers and the Hasbro/Cartamundi team to perfect the design, assembly and materials. There were plenty of challenges and even the bespoke packaging that suspended the product to show off its unusual form was a complex design challenge that needed to be solved.

(click to enlarge the images)

Through an Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher, Dublin Design Studio worked closely with Athlone Institute of Technology’s CISD to develop the design of the 3D model that would be used to create the very expensive tool required by injection moulding. Getting the geometry correct from both a manufacturability perspective, in addition to the look and feel of the product, required many iterations; even though the electronics of the product were well-established, the form and feel of the product would have a huge impact on the user experience.

By Christmas that year, David assumed they were ready to go into production. However, a suggestion of an alternative tool design that would yield noticeably better quality results and an associated quote from the tool makers that was double the anticipated cost meant David had to make a difficult commercial decision.

“I felt strongly that anything that might let down the perceived quality of the overall product must be sorted out, and with competition from the likes of Wacom, Adonit and even Apple, it was important that Scriba was as perfect as humanly possible.”

With support from volunteers and numerous interns – David thinks his team may have involved a total of 50 people – all contributing their own expertise and insights to the product, Scriba has evolved into more than just a stylus. David has grown a network of mentors, advisors and friends who have also been instrumental to the realisation of this product. With such a complex project, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details or be consumed by the technical difficulties, so his strategy has been to celebrate the small wins whenever they happen.

“What I probably didn’t appreciate as much at the outset is that as a startup, developing hardware encompassed so many other fields. For instance, we’ve not only developed a hardware product, we’ve also created an ecommerce site, developed an SDK for software developers and produced six apps to go with it!”

The manufacture process itself threw up a number of technical hurdles, each one seemingly insurmountable. David credits the openness of the wider network he had at that point with his ability to overcome each one… companies went above and beyond what would have been commercially expected, and generously gave any insights and expertise they had. In addition to Cartamundi, of particular note were IPC Polymers in Kilbeggan who opened their doors to David to develop and test composite plastics to meet the product’s particular technical requirements. Scriba really is a testament to the Irish business ecosystem.

In parallel with the hardware and materials, the team moved onto software – developing apps and adding functionality (for instance, Scriba can trigger your iPhone camera and you can use it to control presentation slides or annotate PDFs).

“I wanted to change people’s perception of what a stylus could be. Every day I would ask myself: what value can we add for our end users? Sure, people will use the stylus for sketching and drawing; but that’s not all they do during the day so how can we fit into their lifestyle even more?”

A selection of artwork created with Scriba

(click to enlarge the images)

David, an architect by training, says he doesn’t get to spend long days ideating and being immersed in design. As a startup founder, his time is mostly taken up with other, more pressing issues: marketing, logistics, HR, management, finance and business development.

To keep the lights on during the development of Scriba, Dublin Design Studio has taken on a variety of architectural projects, and collected a few awards for these over the past couple of years, including Best Housing in last year’s RIAI Awards. Scriba itself has won a shelfful of accolades – the Irish Times Innovation Awards, UK Design Week Awards, Bank of Ireland Startup Awards and the IDI Awards to name just a few.

Fast forward to October 2017, and the very first batch of Scriba styluses has been manufactured, packaged, and is currently heading out to those first Kickstarter investors, who pledged over two years ago. David has been careful to keep these backers up to date along the way and has sent them regular updates and progress reports.

“I’m pretty hands on and to understand the process, I spent the day at the plant in Waterford working with the operators on the assembly line. That incredible moment of having the very first one, boxed, in my hands, was just amazing. It’s been such a long road and thanks to everyone’s perseverance and hard work it’s now a reality.”

General sales of Scriba are about to go live, initially via their own website – getscriba.com – and also on Amazon. Scriba has been accepted onto the Amazon Launchpad programme, which showcases innovative new products from startups. This will be crucial to the firm’s success, as they have identified Amazon as the key channel for their target market.

David is keen to point out that Scriba is only the first product the studio plans on creating. The collective knowledge the team has acquired since David’s very first prototype will be no doubt be channelled into other exciting projects. It certainly sounds like David is itching to get back to design, so I don’t think we’ll have a long wait!

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Merrill

Scarlet Merrill is Editor of the New Frontiers website and founder of her own startup, Engage Content Marketing. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Immersive VR Education builds on startup success with a strong team

Startup events to help you end 2019 on an entrepreneurial high

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

New Frontiers -Enterprise Ireland - Competitive Start Fund CSF

Calling New Frontiers alumni! Competitive Start Fund now open

New Frontiers -Enterprise Ireland - Competitive Start Fund CSF

If you’re a New Frontiers startup in manufacturing or internationally traded services including internet, games, apps, mobile, SaaS, cloud computing, enterprise software, lifesciences, food, cleantech and industrial products, then the latest call for Competitive Start Fund applications could be the funding opportunity you were looking for!

What is on offer?

A total of €1.5 million in startup funding will be available from Enterprise Ireland when two Competitive Start Funds (CSF) open for applications on Wednesday 21 June 2017.

Up to 30 successful applicants will receive high-level business development support and an investment of up to €50,000 each through the Regional Entrepreneurship and Fintech CSFs.

Startups located outside of County Dublin are invited to apply to the €1m Regional Entrepreneurship CSF – this fund is also open to participants of the New Frontiers Phase 2 programme nationwide. Applications to the €500k Fintech CSF will be accepted from early-stage companies offering a Financial Technology (Fintech) product or service.

What can CSF do for you?

Enterprise Ireland’s CSF is designed to accelerate the growth of startups and enable companies to reach key commercial and technical milestones. The goal of CSF is to provide support for companies that have the capability to become High Potential StartUps (HPSUs). What defines an HPSU? The potential to develop an innovative product or service for sale on international markets and the potential to create 10 jobs and €1 million in sales within 3 to 4 years of starting up.

At the time of the call’s launch, the then Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, said:

“The launch of Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Entrepreneurship and Fintech CSFs, amounting to a total of €1.5 million in funding, will provide valuable financial and business support to early-stage companies who have global ambition for their businesses. Companies based outside of Dublin who successfully apply for the Regional Entrepreneurship CSF will avail of critical early-stage funding and support for their businesses, while the Fintech CSF aims to stimulate start-up activity in the Fintech sector as part of the IFS2020 Strategy.”

The funds are open to companies active in manufacturing and internationally traded services including internet, games, apps, mobile, SaaS, cloud computing, enterprise software, lifesciences, food, cleantech and industrial products.

Joe Healy, Divisional Manager – High Potential Start-Ups, Enterprise Ireland said:

“Ireland is a hub for Fintech innovation and a key focus of Enterprise Ireland is to encourage and support more entrepreneurs through the Fintech CSF in the areas of Payments, Banking, RegTech, Security, and InsurTech as well as Fintech solutions that leverage Blockchain, IoT, AI and Data Intelligence technologies. Up to 10 companies will receive up to €50k each through this fund and we are also delighted to announce that this year’s Fintech CSF will be accompanied by a programme of tailored business development supports and incubation space in partnership with Bank of Ireland’s innovation team.”

What is new this time around?

Good news for applicants outside of County Dublin

Joe Healy continued,  “For the first time, up to 20 companies outside of County Dublin may be approved up to €50k each through Enterprise Ireland’s largest ever Regional Entrepreneurship CSF, valued at up to €1 million. It’s also the first time that we are specifically targeting participants of the New Frontiers Phase 2 programme.”

This call is open to anyone who has participated in Phase 2 of the New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme at some point in the past 3 years.

Access to a new incubation startlab at Bank of Ireland

David Tighe, Head of Innovation at Bank of Ireland says:

“Bank of Ireland are delighted to provide incubation space to this year’s Enterprise Ireland Fintech CSF, our new startlab based in Camden Street will incubate these high potential startups and alongside desk space also provide access to a full range of tailored business supports including mentorship and support from our dedicated Innovation and Enterprise team. We look forward to welcoming the Fintech CSF companies to Camden Street as we continue to support the innovative and thriving fintech and start-up community today in Ireland.”

How to apply

Applications open on Wednesday 21 June 2017. In addition to written online applications, companies will be asked to prepare an online video pitch. Companies must meet certain eligibility criteria and applicants may apply for either the Regional Entrepreneurship or Fintech CSF, but not both.

Both competitions will close at 3pm on Wednesday 5 July 2017. If you’re interested in applying, take a look at our previous article, Making a successful Competitive Start Fund (CSF) application, which explains the marking system and has a variety of additional tips and resources.

The Enterprise Ireland website also has some great CSF case studies and videos with entrepreneurs who have previously received funding.

About the author


Scarlet Merrill

Scarlet Merrill is Editor of the New Frontiers website and founder of her own startup, Engage Content Marketing. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Immersive VR Education builds on startup success with a strong team

Startup events to help you end 2019 on an entrepreneurial high

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

Participant Aisling Byrne Think outside the box to stay inside the circle New Frontiers

Economy: think outside the box to stay inside the circle

Participant Aisling Byrne Think outside the box to stay inside the circle New Frontiers

As the global economy continues to expand, the challenge of meeting the increasing demand for products and services means that most businesses have adopted growth strategies that are not sustainable long-term. But there is an alternative to the traditional open-ended economy, and many startups are adopting these business models to build profitable companies with a lower environmental impact.

The circular economy

Over the past number of years, the circular economy has grown in popularity. In some cases this is out of necessity, in others it stems from the realisation that as a society we have created unsustainable practices – and within this problem lie significant business opportunities for those who wish to provide sustainable solutions to ensure the stability of business in the future. In the natural world, there is no landfill. Plants and animals are born, they grow, eat each other, die and their nutrients return to the soil where the cycle begins again. Nature, being the most complex system known to man, operates using a seamless cycle, with each element integrating itself into a synergised system devoid of waste. It is a purely circular ecosystem.

The linear system

In contrast, for the past 250 years, humans have been favouring the alternative linear system – take, make, and dispose – fueled by the availability of plentiful and inexpensive natural resources. To date, this system has been attractive and successful for both business owners and consumers reaping the short-term rewards. When environmental and social impact is not a concern, businesses can take any necessary means to become more efficient, reach more customers, and sell more of their product. However, we are rapidly reaching the point of no return and the global economy is increasingly using finite resources at a rate which the planet is unable to replenish the raw materials.

Over the last century, we have watched prices decline as consumers demand cheaper and cheaper goods, yet we have never been in a situation where the price of resources has been so volatile. Renewable resources such as trees are being cut down faster than they can grow, clean water is being polluted and non-renewables, such as metals and fossil fuels, are fast depleting in an effort to keep up with global demand. The danger is that if we continue to operate using liner systems that the planet cannot sustain, our businesses, much like our finite resources, will cease to exist. After all – when all the trees have been cut down and all the rivers have dried up, we cannot eat money. Where will your business be then?

The future of business

Prof. William McDonough at Stanford remarked to the World Economic Forum:

“The ‘problem’ we find ourselves in is also the largest business opportunity ever seen by our species. The leaders of the economic future will be those that understand that by design we can create perpetual assets and optimise them to create businesses that thrive and are enjoyed by people everywhere, all the time, forever. Why would we want to miss that?”

Every traditional industry using a linear system has all the hallmarks of an industry ready to be disrupted. The long-term problem is unworkable, unavoidable, urgent, and underserved. This is an exciting time to be an entrepreneur, as here lies the opportunity to be part of global business solutions that fundamentally reinvent our economic model and build businesses that will shape the future of our planet.

So, what is the alternative? The circular economy! The circular economy is not reliant on the use of scarce resources to achieve economic growth, instead it uses disruptive technology and business models to profit from product longevity, renewability, reuse, repair, upgrade, refurbishment, capacity sharing, and dematerialization. Circular models do not focus on driving volume and squeezing lower costs through ‘efficiency’ measures in their supply chain. Instead, they design products to be ‘future-proof’, to fit within the limitations of our planet’s resources. There are five circular business models:

  • circular supplies
  • resource recovery
  • product life extension
  • sharing platforms
  • product as a service

Case study: The Nu Wardrobe

I will delve into a circular solution through the lens of my own company, Nu. Our startup has developed a platform that lets you bring your wardrobe online so you can share and swap your clothes with friends and other Nu. members. Our solution combines the thriving fashion industry and the rapidly growing sharing economy. The fashion industry is the world’s second most polluting industry, after oil. 25% of the world’s chemicals are used for textile production and the industry contributes 10% of the world’s global carbon emissions. The textile industry uses more water than any other industry, apart from agriculture. The rate at which apparel is created and consumed is unsustainable and the fashion industry is becoming ever more scrutinised for its lack of progress towards sustainable practices.

After conducting market validation, we found that although the fashion industry’s supply chain is highly efficient, this model is completely inefficient for the consumer. People invest in outfits that they may never wear or rarely wear. In cases like this, it would be far more efficient for people to borrow or rent clothes, rather than buy. This ties into the product life extension model, and sharing platforms which are part of the circular economy. In short, people have a lot of clothes and have made a huge investment in their wardrobe.

People want a constantly changing wardrobe, but the current model insists that consumers must make a purchase each time they want something different to wear. By providing a sharing platform, people can leverage the value already in their wardrobe to borrow clothes from other members. This cuts down on textile waste and extends the life-cycle of products already in circulation. Nu. profits by providing a service that connects users with people they can share or swap clothes with.

Changes like this can be seen disrupting industries the world over – prime examples being Airbnb, Lyft, and Guest to Guest. The sharing economy is set to boom over the next decade, estimated to be worth upwards of $335 billion by 2025. It is actually profitable, when setting out on a new business venture, to consider the future and how the business will thrive with it.

About the author


Aisling ByrneAisling Byrne Nu New Frontiers

Aisling is a New Frontiers participant and the co-founder founder of Nu. – a platform which lets individuals take their wardrobe online so they can share and swap clothes with friends and other Nu. members with a circular economy ethos… [Read Aisling’s profile]

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New Frontiers Innovation Vouchers Technology Gateways Enterprise Ireland

Extend your R&D capability with an Innovation Voucher

New Frontiers Innovation Vouchers Technology Gateways Enterprise Ireland

Are you an Irish SME looking for help with research and innovation? Have you a product or service that requires expertise currently outside of your existing R&D capacity? The Technology Gateway Network, in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland Innovation Vouchers, can help!

Technology Gateways

The Technology Gateway Network is composed of 15 specialist gateways, situated within 11 Institutes of Technology around Ireland. We focus on key technology areas which are aligned to industry needs in areas such as polymers, photonics, mobile, coatings, industrial design, mechatronics, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, wireless technologies and precision engineering. Each centre works in conjunction with industry to aid the research and development of innovative products and services through a dedicated team of specialised engineers.

Technology Gateway Clusters

To boost the power and knowledge of the Gateways, three unique gateway clusters have been developed to enhance the delivery of research and innovation for Irish SMEs. These clusters are in the areas of Applied Internet of Things (A-IoT), Engineering, Materials and Design (EMD Ireland), and Food and Beverages. Each cluster consists of relevant specialised gateways and a dedicated support office, which can assist you with any questions you may have about the Technology Gateway Network or the upcoming Innovation Voucher call.

What is an Innovation Voucher call?

The Innovation Voucher scheme is run by Enterprise Ireland and opens approximately three/four times a year. Small and medium-sized companies can apply for a €5,000 voucher for the purpose of gaining academic support in research or innovation from a listed knowledge provider. Vouchers are valid for 12 months from the date of issue and can be used throughout the Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway network. However, you must apply for a voucher during one of the open calls. The latest call for Innovation Vouchers opens today (26th April 2017) and closes on Wednesday 10th May. For more information about the vouchers, you can see the FAQs on the Enterprise Ireland site, or contact either the A-IoT or EMD Ireland support offices.

How can Technology Gateways and an Innovation Voucher help your company?

We strive to have a close connection with industry and this shows in our results. Since 2013, we have provided support to over 500 Innovation Voucher projects throughout the network. Last year alone we supported over 210 projects. We view each project as unique and as a result the assistance we provide is tailored to its specific needs. Our specialist gateway teams ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget, and provide a wide variety of support and assistance ranging from prototype production, business model development, process optimisation, customer interface, technical specification, new service development and technology audits. We can even help with the voucher application process itself.

But don’t just take our word for it! Irish companies such as Incereb, Bustard Heating and Kilkenny Cooling Systems have all collaborated with various gateways through the Innovation Vouchers scheme and experienced the benefits of the network.

Case studies

Incereb has developed a novel EEG electrode scaffold, known as the butterfly device. This device will enable technicians to apply in minutes the internationally recognised montage for optimal neonatal EEG brain monitoring and seizure detection. Incereb collaborated with the MiCRA Gateway through a series of Enterprise Ireland Innovation Vouchers, as well as 100% Incereb funded, projects to co-develop the electrode which will be incorporated into the butterfly device scaffold. The prototype arising from this investigation is a fully functional device suitable to be scaled up for production.

We have prototypes which work, and are very close to what we think will be the final product. The documentation and final report on the project was top class, and slotted immediately into our technical and design history file. We have absolutely no hesitation in recommending MiCRA to any interested party.

Jim Roche – CEO, Incereb

Bustard Heating is an SME based in Donegal that provides a range of heating and plumbing services to the domestic and commercial building markets. As an ancillary to their core heating and plumbing business, the company instalsl a range of renewable energy and heat saving products. One such product is their Mobile Heat Switch, used to autonomously control heating and hot water systems by SMS phone text activation. Through an Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher, the PEM Gateway in IT Sligo undertook an investigation to optimise the existing mobile heat switch device by re-designing the control box interface so that a manual time-clock activation device could be integrated, offering the end user both remote and manual setting functions. This included a 3D printed component to realise the design modifications and to test compatibility with the existing heat switch device.

Operating in a progressive and fast changing building services market it is important that we act on end user feedback to optimise our products. The R&D input supported by the Innovation Voucher initiative was invaluable in helping us realise necessary and further potential for our heat switch device.

Trevor Bustard – Bustard Heating

Kilkenny Cooling Systems is a leading manufacturer of refrigerated storage equipment for the dairy, brewing and food processing sectors. A sector where Kilkenny Cooling Systems is particularly prominent is the beverage cooling industry. Through an Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher and Partnership Feasibility study, the TEC Gateway undertook a performance assessment of the company’s Kilkenny VS prototype beer cooler and bench-marked it against competitor cooling systems such as a conventional ice bank system and a full glycol system. The Kilkenny VS Beer Cooling System went on to be shortlisted for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland Award for Innovation in 2015 and the 2016 IBEC Environment Award for best new product; winning the latter.

The Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher scheme played a key role in the progress of our VS Beer Cooler R&D project. I would strongly encourage any business considering undertaking their own R&D to avail of an Innovation Voucher. Having expertise on hand such as that provided by Nimbus was extremely helpful and definitely contributed to this project’s successful outcome.

John Smee – Kilkenny Cooling Systems

Next steps

If you think the Technology Gateways can help your company, get in touch through the Technology Gateways website, or contact the A-IoT or EMD Ireland support offices.

Various Innovation Voucher clinics are also being held in regional centres to provide information and assistance with Innovation Voucher applications. Check out how they can help and register online.

Coming up

27th April – WiSAR Gateway Industry Open Day Colab (LyIT Campus)Register your interest in attending this open day.

28th April – MET/PEM Gateway Innovation Voucher Clinic (GMIT Castlebar)Register your interest in attending this clinic.

This post was published in collaboration with the Technology Gateway Network

About the author

Grainne Foley EMD Ireland Technology Gateway NetworkGráinne Foley

Gráinne is the Marketing Executive of EMD Ireland, a cluster group of six Technology Gateways operating within the engineering, materials and design sector. The cluster strives to provide companies nationwide with access to the wide range of expertise within the Gateway structure, who can support and aid the development of research and innovation in industry… [Find out more]

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Technology-enabled innovation pathways to success - New Frontiers

Technology-enabled innovation: pathways to success

Technology-enabled innovation pathways to success - New Frontiers

Any new technologies can face a certain degree of hype. Gartner, a US-based IT research firm, developed the hype cycle – a graphical representation of the maturity, adoption and application of specific technologies. Such hype cycles can drive both venture capital and media attention towards the great potential, or lack thereof, of new technologies. Attention is also given to ‘experts’ predicting that a given technology is the future, or the contrary.

In actual fact, it takes many years of testing technologies and evaluating them for different use cases before they’re ready for mainstream use. Standards must also be proposed or adopted in real time, before technology can achieve mainstream adoption to enterprise or consumer level.

Driverless cars and a mushroom analogy

Consider the shape of a mushroom. The stalk represents growth of a technology for two to six to ten years, followed by an explosion of adoption of that technology into different use cases. The technology then resonates with users to the extent that customers can’t imagine what life was like before said explosion (i.e. the iPhone is only ten years old, Hailo only five). Basically, we see apprehension first, a growing buzz about a technology and, at the right time, mainstream adoption follows.

An example of this behaviour is evident in the case of the future technology in driverless cars.  Initially, people will be very cautious; we will hear cases of fatal traffic accidents and instances when the car couldn’t differentiate a bike lane from a car lane, 3.5 million truck drivers in the US being laid off, and so on.

However, it’s clear that some consider driverless cars to be the latest ‘mushroom explosion’ in the making, as 2016 saw the online transportation network, Uber, purchasing a driverless truck company for approximately $680 million. Warren Buffet is quoted as saying the biggest risk to banking and insurance conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway is driverless cars, because their widespread use will mean fewer car accidents, and therefore less need for car insurance.

When the cars are ready for mass consumer adoption, infrastructure providers will catch up, and dedicated lanes, electronic signage and municipal vehicles will all play their role in facilitating this emergent technology. Exact timing can’t be predicted, but eventual productivity gains will ensure that technology will facilitate for driverless cars and societal acceptance will follow.

Other emergent technologies

Using this mushroom imagery to explore the stage of development of other new technologies, we would see emergent technologies on the ‘stalk’ as being:

  • Augmented/virtual reality technologies
  • The mainstreaming of data mining and data analytics at consumer level, as platforms such as Facebook and Google fully monetise their data
  • Enterprise-level data analytics insights from equivalent platforms such as Microsoft and SAP

The key issue around innovation, and especially some of the technology-enabled innovation today, is the time it takes to get to the stage of mainstream adoption and how that timeline applies to you or your company. Are you going to invest early and lead, while facing an uncertain length of time along the stalk, or are you going to trail early leaders and join the mushrooming market, but as a follower? The length of the testing phase is hard to predict (ask Blackberry or Nokia), but the outcomes are immense (ask Google or Uber).

I wonder if this mushroom-shape of adoption can be also applied to commentary outside of technology innovation; a long phase of emergent thinking before action – Brexit or Trump anyone?

About the author

Alan Costello New FrontiersAlan Costello

Alan is a business development consultant, and a mentor and trainer for Enterprise Ireland and the New Frontiers programme. Alan’s company, Ruby Consulting, specialises in services such as strategy & innovation, marketing & key sales support, investment finance, social enterprise and community development… [Read Alan’s profile]

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Immersive VR Education builds on startup success with a strong team

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4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

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