Invest4Success – Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon

Major jobs and investment exhibition for Croke Park on November 3, 2016.
The Upper Shannon-Erne Project partners of Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon Local Authorities, Bord Na Mona and the ESB are hosting a jobs and investment exhibition at Croke Park Conference Centre on November 3, 2016. 
The opportunities the Upper Shannon-Erne region has to offer businesses that want to set up – and the partnership approach that is active there – will be key topics at the event, which will host many interesting businesses and speakers. 
The Center Parcs project
For example, Raj Singh-Dehal, HR and commercial services director of Center Parcs, will outline his company’s vision for developing a forest resort – the biggest tourism investment [ever to be made] in the region.
Ciaran Corcoran, site director of Abbott Diagnostics, will share his experience of growing a medical device company in Longford. 
And Sharon Lavin, Waterways Ireland, will discuss how the Blueway project has transformed the inland waterways for recreational use.
Download the full invest4success-programme for details of all the keynote speakers and exhibitors. 
Pictured is Lough Key, Boyle, Co. Roscommon.

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API economy has ‘real opportunities’

The API sector is currently one of “the most exciting and dynamic” sectors in the Irish software industry.
At a recent Irish Software Association event, sponsored by Bank of Ireland, the speakers and the attendees discussed the API sector and its potential [positive] impact on the tech economy. 
What’s an API?
There are over 12,000 APIs offered by firms today. An API is best thought of as “a contract provided by one piece of computer software to another”.
The Harvard Business Review reports that generates 50% of its revenue through APIs, generates 90%, and eBay generates 60%.
“APIs are the means by which to execute a strategy, not a substitute for it,” says Adrian Mullet, head of technology at Bank of Ireland and organiser of the event.
“The Irish software companies that are using APIs to expand the reach of their products are seeing big wins for the partners within their API ecosystem.”
Great growth opportunities
Paul Sweetman, director of Irish Software Association, said the success of Irish software and technology companies is “built on an ecosystem of collaboration”.
“The API economy and the acceleration of API use represent a tremendous growth opportunity for Irish technology companies,” adds Mullett. “Companies across a diverse range of sectors such as finance, media, hospitality and travel are using APIs as a critical component of their business model.”

Speakers at the technology sector insights event, which took place at IBEC’s offices in Dublin, included (left to right) Alan Foy, group CEO, Blueface; Adrian Mullett, head of technology sector, Bank of Ireland; Paolo Malinverno, research vice president at Gartner; Dr Helen McBreen, investment director, Atlantic Bridge; and Maurice Buckley, CEO, TheHireLab.

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UPRISE has enjoyable Irish debut at the RDS

The startup ‘festival’ UPRISE made its first appearance in Dublin and with some success.
The winner of the first UPRISE to take part in Ireland was ‘adult sweet maker’ Smith & Sinclair, thanks to the pitch battle skills and vibrant personality of founder Melanie Goldsmith.
Unlike other pitch competitions – that nearly all seem to employ the predictable and dull ‘Dragon’s Den’ format – UPRISE relies on the (rather ruthless) audience to vote for the winners and losers. 
Six international teams: KinoSol, Fibregel Apparel, Timeular, Smith & Sinclair, My GiveBox; and six teams from Ireland: AddGoals, Parkpnp, Dashcabs, Wellnice Pops, StayPal, Cyc-lok and CyberSmarties, took part in the various two-minute pitch battles that [eventually] left one battle hardened startup standing victorious. 

Melanie Goldsmith (pictured centre stage) emerged as the deserved winner. Not because her company idea or product were the best in the room, but because she was the best at pitching her idea and her positive, can-do, never fail attitude won over the jubilant Dublin audience. 
As for the UPRISE event, there were also some very interesting startups exhibiting and ‘break out’ educational workshops thanks to the likes of a key sponsor, Google.
Dublin City Council and Bank of Ireland were the other two key supporters of the event. UPRISE will return to Dublin in November 2017. Founder, Limerick native Paul O’Connell, should take a bow. UPRISE is a welcome addition to the startup event and competition space in Ireland. Its enjoyable ‘personality’ shines through. 

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Herd and heritage – a castle with a pedigree

Wilton Castle played host to one of the last duels fought in Ireland. Today it has been transformed back to its former glory and into a thriving business by farmer Sean Windsor.
Following a decade of conservation and restoration, dairy farmer Sean Windsor has opened up Wilton Castle as a hospitality venue, ideal for holidays, weddings and special occasions. Situated on his land at Bree, near Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, the south wing of the Castle has been lovingly restored and is now attracting an increasing number of overseas visitors.                  
What inspired you to restore Wilton Castle? 
I grew up living and farming within a stone’s throw of the Castle, and I suppose at the back of my mind, I always had a desire to try and return the Castle to its former glory. I grew up with stories such as the architectural link between Wilton Castle, Johnstown Castle and Powerscourt and also that one of the last duels in Ireland was fought here in 1807, with tragic outcomes for both combatants.
However, from 1923 until 2004 it was in complete ruin, and it was going to require an enormous effort to restore it. To succeed, I knew I would have to do a lot of the work myself while still managing the farm and milking the cows in our herd on a daily basis.
What’s your family connection with the Castle?
The history of the Castle can be traced back to the mid-13th century when a family by the name of De Dene was recorded living here in 1247. The Alcock family were the longest in residence from 1695 until the Castle was burned down in 1923. My grandfather happened to be the estate steward or manager at this time. During the blaze and just before the roof collapsing, he helped rescue some of the furniture

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Small business loans now come with mentors

Small businesses need more than financial support. With this in mind, Microfinance Ireland (MFI) has launched a new mentoring service.  
The mentoring service will accompany the small loans MFI lends to businesses, whether they are starting or growing. The businesses must have 10 or fewer employees, however.
“While businesses constantly tell me that getting funding support for their business is very important, I believe our mentoring assistance is more critical to many new businesses,” says Garrett Stokes, CEO of Microfinance Ireland.
“Many business people are experts in their own sector, but they are weak in other areas such as finance, marketing and planning. Mentoring is another valuable aid to helping small businesses succeed.”
Go to your LEO for advice
The Microfinance Ireland mentoring service is delivered through the Local Enterprise Offices. 
Microfinance Ireland, set up four years ago as a government funded, not-for-profit lender to help get more people starting businesses, has so far helped to create over 2,300 jobs.
Microfinance Ireland works in partnership with the network of Local Enterprise Offices and the Local Development Companies, to offer business loans to small businesses. Further information about the mentoring service is available on                                                                                  

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UPRISE is coming to Dublin

Startup festival UPRISE is coming to Dublin. The event involves Irish firms in ‘pitch battle’ with international startups. Who will win?
Dublin will play host to Europe’s biggest tech festival when UPRISE comes to the RDS.
Taking place from 9 am – 6.30 pm on Thursday, October 20, the festival will cater for over 2,000 attendees and boasts a variety of attractions. 
People first
What distinguishes UPRISE from similar tech gatherings is how it puts people at the centre of the event. Networking and conversation between startups come first while the technology comes second, with buskers, DJs, games and other entertainment, as well as practical workshops and interactive panels. 
150 startups will attend the event, while panellists will include people from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Salesforce and more. 

Pitch Battle
A centrepiece of the day will be the Pitch Battle, which will pit six Irish startups against six international startups, with the live audience choosing the winner. 
The Dublin City Local Enterprise Office has put up a prize of €5,000 for the company that most impresses people on the day.  
“We are supporting the UPRISE Festival 2016. The move will no doubt showcase the success of Dublin as a hotbed of activity and support for emerging businesses. The doors of the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Dublin City are always open to those thinking of starting their own business or to those already in business but in need of extra support,” says Dublin City Council’s Greg Swift. 
READ MORE: Did you know there are over 80 different Government supports for Irish startups and small businesses, including grant money?  

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New food business incubator in Cork

A new food incubator in Cork aims to position the region as a national player in Ireland’s agri-economy.
Food businesses in Cork have a new ‘incubation’ facility available to them courtesy of the Cork County Council.
Cork Incubator Kitchens offers food startups and existing food businesses access to a fully equipped kitchen on a pay-as-you-go basis of just €15 per hour. 
The CIK is aimed at food entrepreneurs looking to develop and market-test their food products before investing in their own kitchen equipment.
Brand new and fully equipped
The incubation space was opened this week by Mayor of Cork, County Cllr Seamus McGrath. He says, “Cork is a vibrant and leading player in the national food and drinks sector. With facilities like the Cork Incubator Kitchens and the support infrastructure in the region, Cork is ideally positioned to be a leader in Ireland’s agri-economy.”
Located in Carrigaline Industrial Estate, the bakery and kitchens are designed to meet the highest health and food safety regulations and boast a broad range of equipment including refrigerators, blast chillers, fogging machines, tilting bratt pan, vacuum packers, sealing machines and Zanolli deck ovens.
Networking opportunities
As well as offering food entrepreneurs kitchen facilities, the incubator will also provide networking and support provided by the Food Safety Company, who will manage the day-to-day running of the space.
The kitchen has already attracted some clients, including A Touch of Magic which is using it to help expand its cake and confectionary business, and Athula Fusion Foods which is developing a range of sauces.

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The business end of Budget 2017

What were the main business related results of Budget 2017? How did this budget affect SMEs and farmers?
The eleven key takeaways, for SMEs and farmers, are:
1: There was a continued strong commitment was made to the 12.5% corporation tax rate.
2: The ‘Start Your Own Business Relief’ was extended for a further two years to the end of 2018.
3: Foreign Travellers Relief – ‘SARP’ and ‘FED’ extended to 2020 and the minimum number of travel days is reduced to 30.
4: A new SME-focused share based remuneration scheme to be introduced in Budget 2018.
5: Farmers being able to opt out of income averaging for the 2016 tax year was announced.
6: Farm Restructuring Relief was extended to the end of 2019.
7: The flat-rate addition for farmers is being increased from 5.2% to 5.4% from 1 January 2017.
8: The Minister confirmed that an independent review of the Corporate Tax code is to take place. The report and recommendations are due by the end of Q2 2017.
9: The 9% VAT rate for the hospitality and tourism sector is retained.
10: Savings – a 2% DIRT reduction from January 1, 2017 followed by three further 2% reductions out to 2020.
11: For startups and SMEs, the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rate was cut from 20% to 10% up to just one million euros.
For full details visit Budget 2017.

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The 12 finalists of Spark of Genius

Some of Ireland’s brightest tech startups are in with the chance of winning €25,000 at this year’s Web Summit in Lisbon. 
The prize is part of the ESB’s Spark of Genius competition, which has currently narrowed the finalists to a field of 12. Only three, however, will be selected to go to Lisbon and compete for the cash prize.
Narrowing the field 
The 12 semi-finalists will be judged on their businesses’ originally, development so far, and growth prospects. 
“It’s a great opportunity for startups, and it shows how thriving the Irish tech scene is,” Web Summit founder and CEO Paddy Cosgrave. 
The ideas
BikeLook: Tackling bike theft with Bluetooth sensors. 
Buymie: Personal shopping service through your smartphone. 
EnergyElephant: Helps businesses be more energy efficient through data analysis. 
Fillit: Connected those with unused space with those who need it for events etc. 
HouseMyDog: Links dog-owners with dog sitters. 
iKydz: Helps parents control their kid’s internet access through a ‘plug and play’ system.
Kollect: On demand, choose-your-own-bin-day collection service. 
OpenBack:  “Creating a new standard in mobile notifications to drive engagement while putting users first”.
Parkpnp: Online parking marketplace; links people with unused spaces with those who need them.
Responder: “A product aimed at supporting independent living, health and well-being through the use of mobile and wearable technologies”.
WeSavvy: An app which allows users to get rewarded on their life insurance policy for keeping active, tracking how often they walk, run or cycle. 
Wia: “Provide developers with a real-time platform for building Internet of Things applications”. 

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Highway1 accelerator offers $100,000

Does your startup want $100,000 and an office space in San Francisco?
San Francisco-based accelerator programme Highway1 is accepting new applications for its eighth class from October 25, 2016. 
The programme is open to international applicants. Irish startups Drop and Ayda participated in the past. 

What is an accelerator? 
Accelerator programmes are for existing businesses that have the potential to grow. Accelerators typically offer shared office spaces, networking and mentoring opportunities and seed capital in exchange for a share of the business.
What’s on offer with this accelerator?
Successful applicants to Highway1 will avail of:
●        Up to $100,000 for 8% equity or $50,000 for 5%.
●        Onsite support from electrical, mechanical, firmware and manufacturing engineers.
●        Office space in San Francisco.
●        24/7 access to state-of-the-art prototyping labs.
●        Introductions to the best industrial design studios.
●        A trip to Shenzhen, China and an introduction to local resources.
●        A network of alumni, mentors and partners.
●        Introductions to key investors.
Applications close on November 1, 2016. For more information, visit Highway1.  
READ: A ‘gym for Irish food startups’.

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