The best new inventions from Northern Ireland

The Invent Awards recognise the best new inventions emerging from Northern Ireland each year. 
The 2017 Invent Awards winners have been announced. Held at the Waterfront Conference Centre in Belfast, the annual awards recognise Northern Ireland’s latest breakthrough inventions.
The overall winner of Invent 2017 went to Phion Therapeutics developed by Dr. Helen McCarthy (pictured above centre). Dr. McCarthy won a prize package worth £13,000 and one of the sought after spaces on the NI Tech Mission to California in January 2018.
Phion Therapeutics aims to revolutionise how drugs are delivered to parts of the human body.
“Phion has been able to concentrate various anionic drugs into tumours while preventing delivery to normal or healthy tissue and cells. This is potentially revolutionary for the treatment of cancer,” says Professor Helen McCarthy from the School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast. “The list of potential applications is almost limitless.”
The other winners on the night
The five category winners, who received £3,000 and a place on the NI Tech Mission were:

KegoMatic, the brainchild of six electrical engineering students from Queen’s University Belfast – Connor McGurk, Connor Carville, Donovan Campbell, Patrick Devlin, Bryan Murphy and Aaron Rath – is an automated beer keg solution.
Evy, a smart tracking bag, was created by Queen’s University Belfast students Niamh Tohill, Andrew Cunningham, Vincent Kearney, Nathan Steenson and Matthew Whiteside.
Seatview, founded by Graham Little, Andrew Murray, and Stuart Ogg and provides customers with a 360-degree virtual reality view from their allocated seats.
Uleska, founded by experienced entrepreneur Gary Robinson builds cybersecurity into web applications while they are being built.
Hug, created by product designer Fiona Bennington, is a wearable heat pack.

For more information on Invent 2017 visit invent2017.co. The awards are sponsored by Bank of Ireland and Connect at Catalyst Inc. 

Related Resource

Ten Irish inventions that changed the world. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/new-inventions-from-northern-ireland/ on
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Six places for tech firms available in startlab Galway

Are you tech startup with the potential to scale? Are you interested in an incubation workspace and programme in Galway? startlab Galway is now open for applications. 
There are six places now available at startlab Galway, powered by Bank of Ireland.
There are a few things to consider about Galway. First, it is a great city for startups. Second, it was recently voted the ‘World’s friendliest city’. Third, the cost of living in Galway is 22% cheaper than Dublin.
It’s a great place and, startlab is based in a custom-designed building on Mainguard Street, literally in the heart of Galway city.
Successful applicants will benefit from a range of facilities, including desk space, high-speed wifi, conference rooms, as well as one-on-one sessions with essential coaches and mentors. Participants will also get introductions to investors and support from Bank of Ireland’s innovation team.

“The ongoing collaboration with expert mentors and access to the bank’s vast network helped us immensely when honing our offering, scaling the business globally, getting funding and attracting talent to work with us,” says Brian O’Rourke, CEO of City Swifter, a recent ‘graduate’ of startlab Galway. “Galway is a fantastic place to start a business. The startup community here is thriving.”
Applications are open until October 31, 2017. www.startlabhq.com.

Related Resource

100 tools to help your startup grow. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/startlab-galway/ on thinkbusiness

This is how Foreign Exchange works [Video]

Currency fluctuations can be good news or bad news for Irish businesses. These short videos explain what you need to know, especially in light of Brexit. Currency moves are not predictable so it’s important to plan ahead.  
 

Related Resource

Here’s a template to help you prepare for market changes in uncertain times and you can download this brief guide to creating an FX policy.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/how-foreign-exchange-works-video/ on
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Don’t sit back – prepare for Brexit

In this period of uncertainty, it is tempting to adopt a “wait and see” approach to Brexit. However, now is not the time to sit back. 
If your business is importing from, or exporting to the UK, you must consider the implications Brexit will have on your business, particularly when it comes to fluctuations between the Euro and the Pound.
Have you started planning? What’s your exposure? What level of currency risk can your business tolerate? Have you considered dual invoicing? What about ‘Forward Contracts’, are these the solution? Do you have a foreign currency account and should you have one? Have you spoken to someone who can advise you?
A six-step guide
Download this six-step Brexit guide that explains how your business can reduce currency risk as the repercussions around Brexit continue.
A good example of how currency risk can impact a business:
1. You are a manufacturer selling goods to the UK. The currency exchange rate is €1 =£0.90 (one Euro will purchase 90 pence Sterling.).
2. You purchase £10,000 worth of raw material from the UK at this exchange rate, so will have to pay €11,111.11 for the materials.
3. You sell the finished goods in the UK for €20,000, receiving payment in Euro.
4. Your profit in euro is €8,888.11. In Sterling your profit is €8,888.11 * (0.90) = £7,999.30.
If the Euro falls in value against sterling by 15%, which means that a Euro is now worth only £0.7650, what is the impact on your business profitability?

1. Your costs increase to €13,071.90 in Euro terms (i.e., £10,000/£0.7650) from €11,111.11, an increase of €1,960.79.
2. Your Euro profit falls from €8,888.11 to €6,928.01 a reduction of around 22%.
As you can see, any fluctuations in currency can have serious consequences for your bottom line. 

Related Resource

For a comprehensive list of resources and Brexit advice, visit the Brexit

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/a-six-step-guide-to-brexit-and-currency-risk/ on
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Three straight-A students build an Edtech business

ExamLearn, which was founded by three secondary school friends, is a fascinating new Irish Edtech startup. Here, one of the founders – Jack Manning – talks about building a business based on a big gap in the market. 

How and why did you start? 
ExamLearn was initially called JC-Learn. Me and two friends, Johnnie Bell and Eamonn Flannery, set it up shortly after getting our Junior Cert results (where we achieved a combined 30 As). We felt there was a lack of technology around the school study process. We also wanted to combat the need for expensive grinds and revision books so that anyone in Ireland could achieve a high grade, regardless of how much money they had to spend on education. We set about outlining all the most important features of an effective study plan: subject notes, A-grade past exam answers and expert study advice.
“Many older Edtech companies are behind the times when it comes to content and user experience”
How long did you spend on your business plan before your launch?
We initially didn’t spend any time on a business plan as we just got straight to work. We were completely inexperienced when it came to planning a  business model. However, after working on ExamLearn for a few weeks we became aware of the Student Enterprise Awards run by the Local Enterprise Offices. When we entered, we had to form a business plan and were given guidelines and workshops on how to do so. This provided some direction for our fledgeling business and allowed us to think about the more long-term business goals.
“We know exactly what students want because we are students ourselves.”
What is Examlearn’s USP?
The Irish ed-tech market is quite open. This has allowed a young startup like us to grasp a serious chunk of the market. Many older Edtech companies are behind the times

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/examlearn-edtech-startup-ireland/ on
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Do you have a great Fintech idea?

If you have an idea for a Fintech startup, wouldn’t it be great if you could test it and validate it before you start building it? Now you can.
If you have a very early-stage digital business idea with a financial services focus, and you want to validate it, then you are in luck.
NDRC, in partnership with Bank of Ireland, is looking for people with very early-stage digital business ideas with a financial services focus to join a new, part-time Fintech programme.
The closing date for applications is October 19.
What kind of ideas is the NDRC looking for?
NDRC is looking for people and teams who have a business idea in the following areas:
• Banking
• Fintech
• Enterprise solutions
• Funds administration
• Insurtech
• Payments
• Regtech
• Cybersecurity
• New solutions that use technologies such as Blockchain, IoT, AI and data intelligence.
The ideas with the most potential will be considered for investment by NDRC after the programme is completed.

Who can apply?
The idea owners who are looking to check the validity and strength of their idea. You can apply here.
Who else can apply? People who have specialist skills – creatives, customer experience experts, and business professionals – who would like to volunteer their time to help get a new Fintech venture off the ground.
What will I achieve if I take part?
Firstly, you will get to hone and test your idea in an intense pre-accelerator programme. You will also get to meet and learn from a host of mentors who have created and launched successful startups. And, you will get access to tools and expertise in areas such as technology, business development, design, and commercialisation.
Become a ‘pitch master’ 
Importantly, you will create a stronger and more refined pitch to help you land future investment. This pre-accelerator can also act as a stepping-stone to other NDRC investment programmes.
So, what are you

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/ndrc-bank-of-ireland-fintech-startups/ on thinkbusiness

Starting a beauty therapy business in Ireland

April Kavanagh is the founder of NurseCare, a business that marries two of her passions – nursing and beauty therapy. This is how she started and grew her business. 

In the beginning
When I was filling out my CAO form, I told my mother I wanted to be a beauty therapist, and she convinced me to be a nurse. So, after my four-year degree, four years as a scrub nurse in theatre and, two years doing a HDip in Midwifery, I found a way of marrying my love of beauty and aesthetics and nursing.
I got a job working in The Ailesbury Clinic under Dr Patrick Treacy. This was the beginning. I knew I could offer more of myself if I were out on my own. I knew I had an aesthetic eye and I have an excellent bedside manner. After my wedding, I bit the bullet and put every penny of our wedding present into funding my venture.
“After my wedding, I bit the bullet and put every penny of our wedding present into funding my venture.”
The trials of business planning
My business plan was a giant convoluted mess in which I spent about a month banging my head against a wall. It was full of self-doubt and fear of failure. There was one reason for this; I am a nurse. I had no business background except for an eight-week accounting module in the fourth year in school. I then met with a very sound minded businesswoman in Partas in Tallaght, and she advised me to pare it right back and look at the essentials and what market I was to target.
My USP
I am my USP. That is not meant to sound conceited, but when I am in a room with a client, nothing else matters but my client. I genuinely care about the

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/april-kavanagh-nursecare/ on
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Starting a beauty therapy business in Ireland

April Kerr is the founder of NurseCare, a business that marries two of her passions – nursing and beauty therapy. This is how she started and grew her business. 

In the beginning
When I was filling out my CAO form, I told my mother I wanted to be a beauty therapist, and she convinced me to be a nurse. So, after my four-year degree, four years as a scrub nurse in theatre and, two years doing a HDip in Midwifery, I found a way of marrying my love of beauty and aesthetics and nursing.
I got a job working in The Ailesbury Clinic under Dr Patrick Treacy. This was the beginning. I knew I could offer more of myself if I were out on my own. I knew I had an aesthetic eye and I have an excellent bedside manner. After my wedding, I bit the bullet and put every penny of our wedding present into funding my venture.
“After my wedding, I bit the bullet and put every penny of our wedding present into funding my venture.”
The trials of business planning
My business plan was a giant convoluted mess in which I spent about a month banging my head against a wall. It was full of self-doubt and fear of failure. There was one reason for this; I am a nurse. I had no business background except for an eight-week accounting module in the fourth year in school. I then met with a very sound minded businesswoman in Partas in Tallaght, and she advised me to pare it right back and look at the essentials and what market I was to target.
My USP
I am my USP. That is not meant to sound conceited, but when I am in a room with a client, nothing else matters but my client. I genuinely care about the

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/april-kerr-nursecare/ on
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‘I would like to see more positivity towards entrepreneurs’

Cronan McNamara is the founder of Creme Global, an Irish firm with most of the biggest food companies in the world as clients. Here he talks about running a global business from Ireland and what more can be done to encourage entrepreneurship.
It’s nearly 20 years ago when I started working within the food safety sector. It’s funny while taking physics in college if someone had forecast the industry that I would be working in – I probably never would have believed it. However, the food sector is an exciting area; lots of data; lots of interesting work from agriculture to the finished product; issues ranging from shelf life; to food safety; to working on areas like the microbiome and DNA sequencing.
I always had an interest in maths, science and building things and so studied physics, because of the mathematical element and the real world nature of it. I also started to enjoy the computing side and followed with an MSc in Computing. After college, I began working in financial risk analysis, writing financial-risk software for derivative options pricing.
“Cash is king. We avoided investors, which I would recommend if you can.”
Later, I met my former professor, who at the time was working on a food-risk analysis project, linked with the Trinity Innovation Centre, which involved working with multiple partners across Europe. I then decided to go back and work on the technology, developing the next generation food-risk analysis system for Europe. It was delivered using web-based software, which was quite innovative at the time. This work became the genesis of Creme Global, which then subsequently evolved as a Trinity spin-out.
“Build your product as lean as possible, get something out onto the market, iterate and build on that.”
What was your first major project?
From a consumer and nutritional perspective, we were involved in an IBEC

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/cronan-mcnamara-predict-conference-and-creme-global/ on
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100 tools to help startups survive and grow

Startups fail, but they don’t have to. Here’s how to give yourself the best chance of survival.
It’s time to change the narrative around startups and failure. 60% of Irish startups will make it in business for five years or more. Those who make it are the ones capable of creating solutions to problems. 
There are over 100 links in this article to help entrepreneurs create solutions for every step of their business journey. Whether early stage or an established brand, the list provided might be the difference between long-term success and failure. The emphasis is on Irish startups, but the list will be relevant for most countries. 
Fail, fail, fail again … blah, blah, blah …
Every blog I read on startups seems to allude to failure. Why do we always need to use the word fail? Sure, less than 30% of startups survive past the 10-year point. Agreed. But why must we always have to talk so negatively about the industry and create a stigma around it?
Startups create jobs and jobs foster communities
We should encourage our population to get involved in creating a business.
What if I told you that if you started a company today, you’d more than likely be still up and running for the following five years, what would you say to that?
“We need to promote the high survival rate and stop striking a fear of failure into aspiring entrepreneurs.”
60% of the time
I was once invited by the Irish Government to take part in a review of entrepreneurship policy. In reading the documents presented, I saw the figure for new startups annually – some 12,000. However, it was the next number that took me by surprise – 7,200. This figure represents the average survival rate for the first five years for Irish startup.
7,200. That’s an impressive 60% of the total number. Everyone seems so

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/100-tools-to-help-startups-survive-and-grow/ on thinkbusiness