The Future 50

The ThinkBusiness Future 50 comprises inspiring and innovative start-ups and scale-ups that are destined to grow in 2024.

Activ8 Energies

Activ8 Energies is a pioneering solar energy company that has been leading the nation’s transition to sustainable energy since 2007. With thousands of installations across the country, they are renowned as Ireland’s solar experts.

The business provides comprehensive solar solutions, including site assessment, system design, installation, and ongoing support. By harnessing the power of the sun, their solar panels enable customers to minimize reliance on fossil fuels and contribute to a greener future. With a focus on innovation and research, Activ8 Energies stays at the forefront of solar technology.

It is understood that more than 56-gigawatt hours of energy are produced each year from Activ8 Solar systems; this is equivalent t to the energy required to power over 13,400 homes. The business has 5-megawatt hours of battery storage fitted across Ireland and more than 115,000 solar panels installed. Commercial customers include the HSE, Irish Water, Glanbia, Intel, Microsoft, Veolia and several large-scale pharmaceutical plants.

The company has grown to become the largest supplier of solar PV units in Ireland and last year announced 200 “green” jobs as SSE Airtricity came on board as a 40% shareholder, with an option to buy another 10% after two years. Activ8 has moved into a new 20,000 sq ft facility in Carrickmacross, which is understood to be the most energy-efficient commercial premises in Monaghan and the first NZEB standard (almost zero energy) building to obtain planning permission in the county.

Ciaran Marron, CEO and founder of Activ8 Solar Energies  was recently named 2023 EY Established Entrepreneur Of The Year.

ALPACA

School kids with iPads.

Leah Heffernan,  Anna Young, Francis Villanueva and Danny Molloy from St Colmcille’s Junior School in Knocklyon, Dublin 16, test drive the ALPACA app

ALPACA – a spin-out of Trinity College Dublin’s Learnovate centre – has launched a digital tool that can identify children who may struggle to read before they can read print.

Led by founder Joe Fernandez, ALPACA has been tested in a year-long pilot with 1,000 junior infant children in 30 schools across five countries. 90% of those on the pilot project have converted to paying customers.

An additional 5,500 infants have been screened since the start of this school year in 100 schools that have adopted ALPACA across Ireland, the US and the UAE.

Atlantia Clinical Trials

Woman in grey business suit.

Andrea Doolan is founder and CEO of Atlantia Clinical Trials and has more than 25 years’ experience in food, health supplements and pharmaceutical human clinical studies for global companies worldwide.

With a BSc in Microbiology from the University of Galway, Andrea worked as Clinical Trials Coordinator for the Harvard AIDS Clinical Trials Group at Massachusetts General Hospital, before returning to Ireland as Clinical Trials Manager with APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork.

Andrea and her fellow scientists in APC identified a growing need from food companies for clinical trials.

“While the pharma sector needs for clinical trials was well serviced in Ireland at the time, we noticed that food companies were regularly approaching APC to run food clinical trials which was not its primary remit” says Andrea.

And so, led by Andrea, with the full support of her colleagues in APC and UCC, Atlantia Clinical Trials was established to specialise in clinical trials in foods, supplements, beverages and live-biotherapeutics to ICHGCP standard. The company moved out of UCC in 2015 but quickly outgrew that facility, and in 2017, moved to Blackpool, Co. Cork, where the company remains today, working with global clients including a significant number of the top ten global food companies. With a team of 100+ of medical and scientific professionals, nutritionists, business development and operational personal, Atlantia provides an end-to-end service, managing all elements from protocol design, regulatory support, recruitment, and study execution to sample and data analysis, statistics, and report/dossier preparation.

“We strive to make it as simple as possible for our clients with our end-to-end solution” says Andrea, “we are uniquely positioned in the marketplace as we operate our own clinic sites, thereby giving us full control over all elements of the studies”.

In 2019, Atlantia opened its first international office in Chicago, with front and back-office support provided from Cork. The US facility undertakes similar work to Cork but using US populations to conduct studies in foods, beverages and supplements, a key demand from Atlantia’s major clients, many of whom are large multinationals.

BeyondBMI

Two women and two men in a research lab.

Led by Dr Harriet Treacy Beyondbmi, which is headquartered at NovaUCD in Dublin, offers a unique approach to addressing obesity through personalised medical interventions, community support, and cutting-edge technology.

The clinic’s platform has already made a substantial impact on the lives of its clients, referencing an average weight loss of 10% at Month 6, demonstrating the effectiveness of the clinic’s comprehensive, wrap-around approach to obesity care.

BeyondBMI recently raised €1m in a seed funding round led by private investors and Enterprise Ireland.

This brings to more than €1.5m the amount raised so far by the digital obesity clinic and will be used to develop and expand its services, including a move into the UK market in 2024.

CozmoTec

Woman wearing business suit.

Cuty Gupta’s Dublin tech firm Cozmotec makes tech accessible and profitable for businesses.

Gupta (pictured) has identified a gap in the market where SMEs are falling behind in terms of technology and are failing to make use of more efficient options.

The CosmoTec team is comprised of experienced project managers, software developers, innovation experts and business leaders driven by solving business problems with technology solutions.

CleverCards

Two men and two women in an atrium.

Dublin-based global digital payments platform CleverCards has recently revealed that it is to create 35 new jobs after revealing it has opened 350,000 accounts.

Led by Kealan Lennon, CleverCards is an Irish fintech company that launched their payments platform in 2022.

More than 5,000 Irish businesses have sent CleverCards digital Mastercards to their employees and customers for tax-free benefits, payouts, and expenses. 

CleverCards Mastercard limits, expiry dates and spend category restrictions can be configured by employers, with real-time spend visibility, giving them complete control over business expenses paid by employees online or in-store worldwide using Apple Pay or Google Pay. 

Cotter Agritech

Two men with a lamb.

Cotter Agritech specialises in targeted, selective treatment systems for sheep. The business was co-founded by brothers Nick and Jack Cotter.

Last year Nick Cotter emerged as the overall winner at the 2022 Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, beating off competition from 1,000 applicants from 40 countries.

Cotter Agritech is dramatically reducing chemical use in agriculture via a patented hardware and software system that uses advanced algorithms to enable farmers to transition from blanket treatment with antiparasitic drugs to precise applications targeting only the animals that actually need treatment.

Cygnum

Two men in suits in the woods.

Founded by John Desmond (pictured on right) in 1997, Cygnum aims to produce 1,350 homes a year I the next two years via what is understood to be the most automated timber frame plant in Ireland and the UK. Currently the plant produces five houses a day.

Last year the business, a finalist in the recent EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards, revealed how an investment of more than €7m over five years at its Cork plant has increased its overall output by more than 60%, resulting in the creation of 50 new jobs.

The market share of timber frame construction has grown exponentially in recent years, from 37% of developments in 2019, to 48% in 2021. According to Forest Industries Ireland (FII), rapid-build timber homes have the dual benefits of only needing three to five months to construct, whilst also saving 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions versus conventional builds.

Cytidel

Three men in navy sweatshirts.

Founded in 2021, Cytidel is an Irish-based SaaS Security & Business Intelligence company that transforms how organisations identify, triage and remediate their cyber risks.

Cytidel focuses on helping business leaders and executives make efficient, high-impact decisions, by identifying which cyber risks pose the biggest threat to their business. Cytidel’s risk prioritisation engine analyses several factors such as threat intelligence, critical revenue streams, and regulatory requirements.

Cytidel works with blue-chip customers including An Post and Carne Group, enabling their security teams to operate with over 95% enhanced efficiency. This improvement targets the identification and resolution of vulnerabilities that could significantly affect crucial revenue streams or customer data.

Matthew Conlon (ex-Accenture and Workhuman) and Conor Flannery (ex-Integrity360 and Accenture) co-founded Cytidel in 2021 after spending a decade in cyber security across IT, finance and policing. Having witnessed first-hand how cyber security teams are overwhelmed with the quantity of cyber risks, the pair developed Cytidel. 

The business recently raised €1.35m in a seed round led by Elkstone Ventures and Enterprise Ireland.

Fenuhealth

Young entrepreneur holding up Fenuhealth products.

Founded by two young sisters from Meath while they were still at school, FenuHealth offers a range of nine products and currently exports to 15 countries as well as counting five royal families among its customers.

Fenuhealth produces powdered supplements that are added to feed to help prevent and resolve stomach problems in horses and ponies.

The business was built on work done by sisters Annie and Kate Madden as transition year students taking part in the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

Last year Madden won the 2022 Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Foxes Bow

Man and woman in front of blue gate.

Created by Limerick natives Alice Carroll and Tony Foote, Foxes Bow Whiskey is a blended Irish whiskey aged in Bourbon barrels and finished in Oloroso and Rye casks. The inclusion of rye casks in the whiskey’s finish lends a floral bouquet to the whiskey’s nose, while providing an interesting lingering spice to the palette. Beginning with a burst of fruity sherry flavours, followed by a wave of spice and perfectly finished with a lingering velvety vanilla sweetness.

In June the business surpassed €514,000 in a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube.

Foxes Bow has begun its march into the lucrative US spirits market after  the young firm signed on with MHW as its importer in the US and with Green Light Distributors in Texas.

The deals come just as grocery giant Tesco has agreed to stock the nascent whiskey brand in 80 stores across Ireland.

Galvia

Man wearing blue shirt.

Galvia is a a decision intelligence platform that supports organisations to make better decisions through their data. The Galway business since 2017 has worked with some of the largest companies in the world including Nestlé and Atos as well as introducing an AI powered student engagement platform for NUI Galway. “Project Management is integral to enterprise,” Galvia CEO and founder John Clancy told ThinkBusiness.ie. “The vast majority of work is and will continue to be project-based. Studies show that half of all projects underperform and one third fail and it is estimated that failed IT projects cost enterprises €250bn a year across the US and Europe. Management is often limited to the subjective optimism or pessimism of project managers which can result in unnecessary and costly micromanagement.”

Gigable

Man in dark suit.

Led by CEO John Ryan Gigable connects businesses with independent workers such as food delivery drivers, waiting staff, security guards, warehouse operatives, kitchen porters, and event stewards, who can accept jobs, send invoices, communicate and receive payments through the platform. 

The company has more than 45,000 freelancers on its database and connects independent businesses directly with the gig economy community, where they can choose gig workers to work with based on their ratings and experience.

Gigable has partnered with employers such as The Press Up Group, Bombay Pantry, Subway, Tribal Burger, Pizzabaker, Eddie Rockets, John Dory, and Go Puff.

Gigable is on track to generate €100,000 in monthly recurring revenues by the end of 2023.

Green Rebel

Three men beside a Green Rebel buoy.

Having recently revealed expansion plans that include setting up a new operation in Limerick and creating 75 new jobs, Cork-born business Green Rebel is on a mission to drive the offshore wind energy forward.

Led by CEO Kieran Ivers, Green Rebel provides a full range of survey and data services to the offshore renewable energy (ORE) industry.

Green Rebel was established by Irish entrepreneur Pearse Flynn in 2020 and specialises in acquiring, processing and analysing marine, aerial and met-ocean data using survey boats and aircraft as well as LiDAR buoys and innovative technologies that are designed and assembled in Limerick. Green Rebel has live and upcoming projects in Ireland, Scotland and off the coast of mainland Europe. There are also a number of potential projects in international markets such as the United States and Australia. 

Hertility

Twin sisters.

Led by Irish sisters Helen and Deirdre O’Neill Hertility Health offers a 360-degree view into each individual woman’s health. The team are passionate about their research and innovation for diagnostics in order to provide end to end care from menstruation through menopause. 

Hertility provides female health assessments and tele-consultations with experts in fertility, menopause, PCOS, endometriosis, and gynaecology both direct to consumer and to organisations as an employee benefit, alongside scanning and clinic referrals. They believe that through proactive and early diagnosis of reproductive health issues, as well as hormonal monitoring they can improve women’s well-being, health and the chances of avoiding invasive procedures. 

Their big picture aim is to change attitudes around reproductive health, including in the workplace, and to encourage women to be proactive by tracking their reproductive health and fertility. They work with corporates to become Reproductively Responsible™ by providing CPD accredited workshops, policy support and whole of workforce health screening. Some of their current partners include Bloomberg, Channel 4, the Telegraph and Philips.

Dr Helen O’Neill is a tenured lecturer at University College London, specialising in Reproductive and Molecular Genetics. Alongside her teaching responsibilities, she leads her own research group and holds the position of Director of Reproductive Science and Women’s Health.

Her sister Deirdre O’Neill is the co-founder and chief commercial and legal officer at Hertility Health. She is a dual-qualified lawyer in England and Ireland with a masters in Medical Law from King’s College London. Her Masters focused on the global regulation of bio-sciences with particular regard to embryo research. Deirdre specialises and has worked in corporate law and venture capital for a number of years.

Both sisters were finalists in this year’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Holotoyz

Woman with fair hair wearing white top.

Irish augmented reality technology start-up HoloToyz recently took home the coveted prize for its ‘outstandingly innovative’ Paw Patrol Tattoos and Stickers at Spielwarenmesse, the world’s biggest toy fair. The business was founded by Kate Scott and Declan Fahy. With the HoloToyz technology augmented reality tattoos and stickers come to life in a whole new way, providing kids with an interactive and immersive play experience like never before. Kids can watch as their favourite Paw Patrol characters come to life right before their eyes, thanks to the magic of augmented reality. For the first time, they can also place their favourite pups in their room and capture them on camera.

Inclusio

Dark-haired woman in white jacket.

Prior to founding Inclusio, Sandra Healy’s career spanned 20 years in the global telecoms industry and five years at Dublin City University where she was the founding director of the DCU Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). Sandra is an Organisational Psychologist and NLP Master Practitioner and is considered one of the leading experts in D&I, having championed and driven D&I practice across industry for almost 20 years.

In 2015, faced with the challenges of every D&I practitioner of how to measure impact and return on investment on workplace culture and diversity, Sandra developed the concept of Inclusio. In 2016, she “spun in” the idea to DCU where the company incubated until 2020, when it was spun out of the university.

During her time at DCU, Sandra led a body of research with 35 global organisations across different sectors to better understand the problem and their needs – the result is the Inclusio solution that combines technology, psychology and AI and brings a scientific, evidence-based approach to measuring diversity and Inclusion.

Inclusio’s initial clientele comprised of several global corporations that had collaborated previously with Sandra. Today, Inclusio’s clients are an array of esteemed organisations from both the public and private sectors with significant growth in financial services, construction and engineering, and aviation. Some notable clients include FBD Insurance, and RSA Insurance 123.ie, Kilsaran, Linesight, Teagasc and PublicJobs.ie.

Headquartered in Dublin, Inclusio’s employees include organisational psychologists with diverse perspectives and the company’s 30+ team members are based across the globe from Brazil to India to the US to Poland.

Inscribe

Man inset on image of Golden Gate bridge San Francisco.

Ronan and Conor Burke co-founded Inscribe in San Francisco along with Oisin Moran and James Eggers after graduating from university in 2017.

Inscribe is an automated document fraud detection system that allows businesses to instantly verify their customers when they request proof of income, proof of address, or proof of expense information.

In 2020 they were listed in Forbes 30 under 30 list.

Earlier this year Inscribe raised $25m in Series B funding.

IP Telecom

Smiling woman in patterned dress.

IP Telecom is an Irish-owned telecoms carrier offering innovative, leading-edge communication solutions to businesses of all sizes across Ireland.

Founded in 2010 by Brien and technical director Brian Chamberlain, IP Telecom has clients across the tech, IoT, education, transportation and logistics, retail and agriculture sectors. The company’s vendor-neutral dedicated B2B network offers customers fully integrated solutions to power today’s modern way of working. The company has developed its own cloud-based telephone system to provide its customers with excellent call quality, customer service and technical consultancy.

Clients of the business include international workware brand Portwest, Repak, Decathlon, DID Electrical, Gouldings Chemicals, Right Price Tiles, Barnardos and the Irish Cancer Society.

LegitFit

Three men.

Founded by Gearoid Collins, Ian O’ Sullivan and Ryan O’ Neill, Cork-born software business LegitFit is on a mission to empower fitness entrepreneurs all over the world.

LegitFit is a leading provider of management software for gyms and fitness studios. Since launching in 2019, the company has attracted customers across 15 countries and achieved 5-star ratings across all review sites.

Last year LegitFit closed a €1m seed funding round led by Delta Partners.

Mail Metrics

Man in navy blazer.

Founded in 2013 Mail Metrics has developed a technology solution to help organisations operating in highly regulated sectors to outsource & digitally transform their regulatory and customer communications.

Mail Metrics handles millions of business critical, regulatory and customer communications each year ranging from renewal notices, claims correspondence and billing information to general transactional customer communications.

Mail Metrics’ growth has been exponential, as evidenced by their revenue numbers which have gone from €1m in 2019, to a projected €40m by the end of 2023.

A recent acquisition of paper-based communications player Dafil marks another significant milestone for Mail Metrics bringing their total number of employees from 110 up to 151, expanding their customer base of highly regulated companies.

Having acquired Persona (Ireland) and Forth Communications (UK) in 2021, the acquisition of Dafil is another step towards Mail Metric’s ambition of becoming a leading international customer communications solution provider. 

In a recent interview with ThinkBusiness, Mail Metrics’ CEO Nick Keegan, a finalist in this year’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards, said he believed that the company could one day become a €1bn turnover business.

Micron Agritech

Two men and a woman.

TU Dublin spinout Micron Agritech player is revolutionising rapid animal health testing using AI.

With a cumulative funding of €5m to date, the spin-out is dedicated to revolutionising rapid animal health testing through the innovative use of artificial intelligence technology in its Micron Kit. 

Founded by Daniel Izquierdo, Tara McElligott and Sean Smith in 2019, the Micron Kit allows veterinarians to conduct on-site, rapid parasite testing on animals using their mobile phones, delivering results in minutes.

“Our goal is to make our platform accessible to vets across the globe, starting with penetration across the Irish and UK markets, which will combat the build-up of medication resistance, while giving farmers and vets tools to monitor animal health, improve the lives of their animals while increasing productivity,” Izquierdo said.

Moffett Automated Storage

Man holding an award.

Headquartered in Monaghan and employing 65 people, Moffett Automated Storage Ltd specialises in the development of innovative, automated pallet storage and warehousing solutions. The company designs, manufactures, installs, and supports fully integrated automated warehouse pallet storage systems that enables end users to pick and pack from palletised materials.

This disruptive, dynamic business offers a range of cost, operational and sustainability benefits to clients. It enables clients to double the storage capacity within existing warehouse facilities and can reduce the energy usage of companies operating within a freezer environment in the cold storage industry by 50%.

Sam Moffett, the founder and managing director of Moffett Automated Storage, has been named the emerging and overall EY Entrepreneur of the Year for 2023.

nanobOx

Two men in a garden.

nanobOx has developed a novel water treatment technology and was late last year named winner of the Big Ideas competition for tech start-ups run by Enterprise Ireland.

Dr John Favier, a serial entrepreneur and CEO, founded nanobOx along with Dr Mohammad Ghaani. They have developed a highly energy-efficient technology to oxygenate water using nanobubbles.

Many commercial bioprocesses require oxygen levels in process waters to be consistently maintained. This can be a significant operating cost for a process that can be critical to productivity.

In aquaculture, or the farming of fish stocks, for example, the energy cost of oxygenation can be the second highest expense after feed. It can represent 60pc to 70pc of operating costs in biological wastewater treatment.

Generating nanobubbles is particularly energy intensive, but with novel, patented technology nanobOx has managed to reduce the energy required to do so. Its nanobubble generators can be solar or battery-powered, and with no moving parts they are easy to clean and maintain. The company claims its technology is highly scalable and can oxygenate water at high flowrates.

Nostra Systems

Led by brothers Kevin and Barry O’Loughlin, Irish IT services provider Nostra is on a mission to increase its annual revenue from €50m to €250m within the next five years.

The company recently acquired Cork-based IT managed services provider Compunet.

Its acquisition of Compunet is Nostra’s fourth this year having previously purchased Passax Business Systems, Definitive Solutions and Voice & Data Solutions.

Novelplast

Man in grey jacket.

Led by founder Neil Skeffington, Novelplast is an innovative plastics recycling company based in the Gaeltacht in Co Meath. Founded in 2017, the company began operations in September 2019 with a clear vision to improve the sustainability of plastics for future generations.

They achieve this through developing recycling solutions for materials which are not typically recycled, that are then re-used in the plastics industry as a virgin substitute in a wide array of applications.

In 2022, the company doubled its recycling capacity to 25,000 tons per year making it by far the largest PET recycling plant in Ireland. It now has 55 employees based in Meath and has plans to expand further over the coming years, both in Ireland and beyond.

Skeffington was a finalist in this year’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Positive Carbon

woman wearing grey jacket.

Aisling Kirwan is the co-founder and COO of Positive Carbon, which provides food waste data to commercial kitchens to enable them to cut their food waste in half, reduce waste collections and reach sustainability goals.

With a BSc in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from Trinity College Dublin, Aisling had been working in the food waste sector for over eight years across Ireland, the UK, Australia, and Chile before establishing Positive Carbon with her former colleague, Mark Kirwan in 2020.

The inspiration for the new start-up company came from Aisling’s passion to make as big an impact as possible on the one million tonnes of food waste produced in Ireland each year.

From the start, Aisling and Mark’s focus has been on the foodservice and hospitality sectors which, unlike the retail sector, had no technology solutions to the food waste problem. While not ideal to start a company during a pandemic, “we were in research mode and people had more time” says Aisling, “so we spoke to hundreds of chefs, general managers and operation managers to understand their pain points, and also understand the dynamics of a busy kitchen”.

They discovered that the need was twofold: firstly, visibility of the food waste, and secondly, nothing other than a fully autonomous solution would work. So, they created a tool that automatically monitors all the food waste in a business where sensors track and analyse every single item of food that is thrown in the bin.

ProMotion Rewards

Man in white jumper and woman in yellow coat.

Young Irish business ProMotion Rewards helps brands such as skincare giant Clarins to understand changes in the market right from the till. Consumer rewards player ProMotion, which activates rewards once shoppers simply snap a picture of a receipt, has raised €725,000 in a pre-seed investment round. The business, founded by Trinity graduates and LaunchBox alumni Bidemi Afolabi and Lauren O’Reilly, allows consumers to photograph their receipts, complete surveys and enter competitions via a dedicated app, earning points when they participate. Brand partners provide points boosts and offers when their products are identified in those receipts. These points convert into rewards, such as gift cards, or points can be donated to a charity partner in-app, providing a gamified experience whilst delivering value to their users. ProMotion Rewards shares insights from this data with brand partners who can learn more about the behaviour of their customers to improve their products and provide personalised offers or further cashback to users.

Provizio

Man on knee in front of a car.

Provizio is an autotech start-up led by Barry Lunn, who sold his previous business Arralis an aircraft radar technology firm, for a reported $50m in 2017.

Inspired by an auto accident caused by poor weather conditions, Lunn set about assembling a dream team of experts in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and vision-and-radar sensor development.

The product is a five-dimensional sensory vision system that will augment drivers’ capabilities and prevent accidents in real-time and beyond line of sight.

Provizio has raised $6.2m in funding from a range of investors including Movidius founders Seán Mitchell and David Moloney, automotive entrepreneur Bobby Hambrick as well as the European Innovation Council and Act Venture Capital.

An estimated 1.35m people are killed every year in road traffic accidents with more than 20m injured, according to the World Health Organisation, costing more than $2trn in the US alone.

94% of these crashes are caused by human error. Lunn wants to fix this by creating a device that can be installed in most cars for a unit cost of less than $100.

Pure Pharmacy

Man in navy coat.

Pure Pharmacy has emerged to become one of the largest pharmacy chains in Ireland with an annual turnover of €20m and 26-plus store locations across the land.

Founded by Dave Beggs, the skilled entrepreneur can be credited with shaking up the pharmacy market in Ireland by offering lower prices than competitors.

Recently the business revealed a new GeneCheck service that allows people to access such testing through their nearest Pure Pharmacy store as part of a non-invasive procedure.

SAOL

Woman in pink coat beside man in blue shirt.

Olympian Derval O’Rourke’s new workplace wellbeing platform SAOL recently secured €200,000 in funding from Enterprise Ireland.

The €200,000 investment is part of an initial seed funding round of €400,000 that will fund the cost of the business plan and internationalisation, and is projecting the creation of 26 full-time jobs by the end of 2026.  The Enterprise Ireland investment will also be used to expand SAOL to a global market.

The SAOL platform, which O’Rourke has founded with her business partner Greg O’Gorman brings employers and employees together and creates a supportive and inclusive community.

Employees will benefit from a range of live classes and events with expert coaches, programmes and challenges which will help them improve their wellbeing and self-confidence.

Skanstec

Man in grey suit with red tie.

Under the leadership of Declan Wynne, one of 23 finalists shortlisted for this year’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year programme, young Tipperary business Skanstec has become one of the most prominent players in the burgeoning space of energy and telecoms, two pillars of our digital and sustainable future.

Founded in 2020, Skanstec is a rapidly growing engineering company which operates in a sector that is likely to dominate high growth industries for decades to come, with a vision to create a smarter, connected, sustainable society for future generations.

The business focuses on decarbonisation and digital transition and currently operates across six pan-European markets.

Skanstec employees 110 direct engineering staff across three regional European offices located in Ireland, Portugal and Denmark. The company is renowned for consistently providing flexible and tailored engineering solutions to a high-profile client base and has a proven track record in delivering infrastructural projects across Europe in the energy and telecoms sectors.

Sculpted by Aimee

Fair-haired woman in black jacket.

With a degree in Commerce and French as well as her experience in the beauty industry, Sculpted by Aimee founder Aimee Connolly spotted a market opportunity for a makeup product specifically designed to suit all ages and skin types that simplified the makeup process.

So, with six years’ experience in makeup and four years of business, she thought “let’s merge these two together and let’s work for myself”, which is just what she did, with the philosophy of “not over-thinking it and just going with my gut.”

Aimee’s successful Sculpted by Aimee cosmetic brand has gone from strength to strength since she started her own business over 5 years ago. From her first product launch, which was a 3-in-1 Sculpted Highlighter and Shader palette, packed at her own kitchen table, she now has over 160 products available and has sold 2m units to date.

Her team now comprises 25 people and the business sells a wide range of makeup brushes, lipsticks, palettes, eye lashes, foundations, and instant tan.

The company has an omni-channel approach with products stocked in 350 stores across Ireland, as well as its own website sculptedbyaimee.com. While the pandemic escalated the on-line channel, Aimee and her team managed to maintain a split of 60% in-store distribution and 40% on-line. “Educating people on the brand is very important” says Aimee, “and this approach allows the company to be really dynamic, offering tutorials and point-of-sale opportunities to our customers.”

Sculpted by Aimee not only has experienced massive growth in sales, particularly in the last two-to-three years, but is scaling for internationalisation, with launches in the UK and the Middle East planned in Q4 2022, and plans for the US and Asia markets in the longer term.

Smile Genius Dental

Two men and two women on a rooftop.

Digital platform for dental treatment Smile Genius Dental recently raised €200,000 in investment from Enterprise Ireland and private investment company Growing Capital.

Nipun Kathuria and Dr Mark-Anthony Shepherd co-founded Smile Genius Dental in 2021, a platform for streamlining dental workflows for clinics, DSOs and clear aligner companies, offering a one stop digital solution for the dental industry.

Earlier this year, Smile Genius Dental successfully applied for the Enterprise Ireland Pre-Seed Start Fund (PSSF) which provides start-ups with critical early-stage funding up to the value of €100k to test the market and progress their business plans for the global marketplace.

Soothing Solutions

Two women with an award.

Founded in 2017, Louth-based healthcare firm Soothing Solutions manufactures a range of honey jelly pops called Tonstix aimed at providing a children’s alternative to lozenges.

Sinéad Crowther, Founder and CEO of Soothing Solutions, was recently named the Enterprise Ireland High-Potential Start-Up (HPSU) Founder of the Year for 2023.

Crowther had previously worked as a pharmaceutical technician and had noticed a gap in the market for products to help children suffering from sore throats and coughs. It was early in the journey on Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme in Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) when Sinéad met her co-founder, Denise Lauaki.

Tonstix products are now stocked in more than 1,400 pharmacies across Ireland, and recently launched on Amazon UK.

Staycity Group

Man in tuxedo winning an award.

Tom Walsh, CEO and Co-Founder of Staycity Group was recently named 2023 EY International Entrepreneur Of The Year.

Walsh co-founded short-term apartment rental company Staycity in 2003 along with his brother Ger. The company specialises in rental of short- and mid-stay aparthotels in prime European city locations for both business and leisure travellers.

The Staycity Group (which operates under the Staycity and Wilde Aparthotels brands) has grown to become one of Europe’s leading aparthotel operators with an estate of 5,300 apartments across 32 locations.

Stripe

Two smiling young men.

Stripe was founded in San Francisco 2009 when CEO Patrick Collison was just 22 and his brother John was 19. Prior that the brothers who hail from Nenagh but as teenagers living in Limerick established a start-up in 2007 called Shuppa that later became known as Auctomatic. They sold Auctomatic for $5m when they were just 19 and 17 respectively.

Of the 42 countries in which Stripe powers businesses today, 31 are in Europe. And many of the continent’s largest and fastest growing companies are building on the platform.

Over the recent crucial Black Friday sales weekend Irish-led business Stripe processed 300m transactions, with a peak volume of 93,304 per minute.

In what was the largest-ever four-day period on the Irish-led payments platform Stripe some $18.6bn payments were processes as shoppers all over the world snapped up bargains.

Stripe employs around 1,000 engineers in Dublin to build out its platform.

The business first began supporting Irish businesses in 2013 when only a few hundred Irish businesses used Stripe.

Spotlight Oral Care

Two smiling women.

Founded in Galway by sisters Dr Lisa and Dr Vanessa Creaven, Spotlight Oral Care initially began developing teeth whitening strips and toothpaste. The company has grown to provide wide a variety of products, including a range of toothpastes for specific ailments, from sensitive teeth, gum health, rebuilding teeth, whitening, and oral care, as well toothbrushes, dental floss, mouthwashes, teeth whitening pens, and electrical oral care products – the Sonic Toothbrush and Water Flosser.

Their range of products combine the latest advances in oral care research with the highest quality of ingredients, while always keeping the end consumer in mind.

Every Spotlight Oral Care product is cruelty free, vegan friendly, free from toxic ingredients, and is not tested on animals, having secured PETA approval in September 2020. In addition, their dental floss is made from recycled ocean plastic and their toothpaste tubes are made from sugar cane, making them the world’s first ever 100pc recyclable tube, which completely revolutionises the oral care industry.

Launched in 2016, Spotlight Oral Care products are now on sale in Boots, Tesco, Dunnes Stores and most pharmacies throughout Ireland, with its headquarters situated in Galway, Ireland.

The brand is well known in the UK, selling to this market through a dedicated UK website and through third party websites such as Look Fantastic and Cloud 10 Beauty. They launched in the United States in February 2020, having also signed a deal with Target, CVS and Ulta Beauty, and opened their New York office in 2020.

Spotlight Oral Care also offers worldwide shipping, contributing to their 3000% growth online in 2020. Spotlight Oral Care completed their Series A funding round in 2020 with an investment from Dermot Desmond and IIU which will allow the company to grow and scale based on their success in 2020.

Swoop

Woman in red dress holding an award beside man in grey sports jacket.

Fintech Swoop was recently named by Deloitte as the fastest growing tech firm in Ireland in the Fast 50 awards.

Led by entrepreneur Andrea Reynolds Swoop is a global platform supporting businesses by bringing their data into one place to garner insights and be instantly matched to eligible finance, as well as assess their spend on cost categories such as energy, banking and FX.

The technology is designed to be scalable, future-proofed and can deliver measurable performance improvements.

Siren

Man in front of blue wall.

Galway-headquartered investigative intelligence company Siren’s technology keeps people, assets and networks safe.

Led by veteran tech CEO John Randles, Siren allows investigators to make complex searches, organise the results visually and create advanced reports to share findings with their teams. The platform is also used by large Corporations to protect their assets and networks against fraud and cyber threats.

The Galway firm has partnered with US based non-profit organisations like the Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative (ATII) and the National Child Protection Task Force (NCPTF) who use its patented technology to solve complex intelligence problems, identify traffickers and reduce human trafficking.

Siren, which specialises in cyber intelligence and works with law enforcement agencies all over the world, last year raised €12m in backing from the European Investment Back to fight cybercrime.

Siren last year reported a 162% increase in revenues, has achieved four patents with more pending and opened a new headquarters in the Galway Innovation District.

Talent Shake

Talent Shake is led by husband and wife team Lia Boyland and Remy Bricaud, both seasoned entrepreneurs

They believe that by adopting simple AI agents today, businesses have the opportunity to learn and grow alongside them.

Boyland says that these AI agents are designed to shift roles, not replace them. Instead staff can focus on strategic tasks that require human expertise.

Tekenable

Two men in suits.

Established in 2002 by Nick Connors and Peter Rose, Irish tech business Tekenable has grown to employ more than 165 people and is scaling fast.

Tekenable’s progress over the past few years has been characterised by astute investments in the spaces of AI, cloud and ESG.

The company recently completed the acquisition of Salesforce cloud specialist business Tether for an undisclosed sum.

Combined the businesses will have over 190 employees, 400 customers, projected revenues close to €21.5m with operations across Ireland, UK, Spain, Hungary, Nordics and UAE.

TestReach

Smiling woman inset in image of a laptop computer.

Testreach founder Louella Morton’s journey into the tech world officially began when she did a degree in computer science at Trinity College and after graduating, her first role was as a software developer in a large financial institution.

As her career progressed in organisations such as Deloitte and Adobe, she quickly ascended the ranks and made her mark in the tech industry.

Although passionate about technology, Louella’s interest in customers and strong organisational skills opened up opportunities in other areas. She soon moved into the business side, first into services and programme management, and then transitioning into business development, where she held a number of senior commercial roles within the educational technology sector.

With strong communication skills and a healthy competitive streak, Louella found her calling in the enterprise software sales world – managing global account teams and exceeding targets.

With an outstanding ability to drive revenue growth, Louella built a very successful career in software sales, however she always had a strong desire to apply her exceptional skills to create something of her own. Fuelled by a passion for technology and a desire to create something meaningful, she took a leap of faith, and in 2014, with a bold vision to completely disrupt the way that exams are run, she co-founded TestReach with her business partner and Co-CEO Sheena Bailey.

TestReach is an end-to-end software and services solution to manage assessments. It not only covers authoring, delivery, marking, moderation and results issuing, but also includes integral remote invigilation (proctoring), where for any exam TestReach supervisors remotely monitor each candidate taking the exam via video, audio and remote screen share. This means that candidates can take their exam using a desktop or a laptop at a location of their choice, and do not need to travel to a test centre, which provides a huge degree of flexibility.

Taking a bootstrapped approach without institutional investment, Louella and Sheena have transformed TestReach from an initial idea, into a major global player in the online assessment industry. Currently running over 4m exams per year, with candidates in more than 150 countries and 200+ staff, TestReach has grown rapidly, with plans to continue this expansion at pace. Louella is clear that taking part in Going for Growth played a key role in TestReach’s success.

TitanHQ

Two men sitting on an orange couch.

TitanHQ is the largest indigenous cybersecurity employer in Ireland. Currently it employs 135 staff in Salthill, Galway, with a further eight based in Letterkenny, Co Donegal. An expansion of the business will generate 67 new jobs, bringing the Irish firm’s headcount to beyond 200 people.

As a global cybersecurity company founded in Galway in 1999, TitanHQ has consistently demonstrated its dedication to technological advancement, innovation, and job creation in the region.

The company is trusted by over 12,000 businesses including 2,500 MSPs across 150 countries, protecting companies including T-Mobile, Virgin, O2, ViaSat, Pepsi, and Datto. 

Velo Coffee Roasters

Woman and two men in a supermarket.

At Blas na hEireann this year we spoke to the founders of Velo Coffee Roasters Rob Horgan and Suzanne Casey who spoke about how the coffee roastery has become a global export phenomenon having started as a coffee shop in Cork several years ago.

“Everything in the café was locally sourced, except for our coffee,” recalls Horgan. “We started to look at what was involved in roasting good coffee, not with the idea of doing, but I came out of my dungeon one say and said to Suzanne ‘I think we can do this ourselves.’ And the rest is history. We went to Germany and got trained up in roasting. In October 2017 this monstrosity of a machine arrived in the back of a truck from Germany and off we went.”

Established in 2017, Velo Coffee Roasters embarked on a mission to redefine the coffee experience, driven by a passion for exceptional quality and a commitment to responsible sourcing.

Discerning coffee buyers in Ireland will have noticed and most likely have indulged in Velo’s products in Aldi as well as Tesco and Dunnes Stores. Casey said that joining Aldi’s Food Academy gave the founders the confidence to go into retail. “Retail is where we thought we could see the most amount of growth. It’s slower, it takes longer, but we’ve really started to see it pay off from our growth in Tescos, Dunnes and some of the Super-Valu stores as well.”

In recent weeks it emerged that Velo is on the verge of selling its one-millionth bag of coffee at ALDI stores.

Horgan says the future for Velo is to continue to grow locally in retail but focus on exports. “The most important thing to do is maintain those customers who have been really supportive of us and the consumers in their shops. Suzanne and myself we’ve spent the last couple of years working hard on ensuring that we’re doing everything right and minding them. And, with an eye on exports. We’re optimistic that by the end of this year we’ll have a proper export customer on a daily basis. We’ve exported to 56 different countries.”

Vikela Armour

Man with dark hair in a corridor.

Headed by Belfast engineering graduate Peter Gilleece, Vikela Armour has devised a way to create a new kind of body armour that is lighter, more comfortable and that provides better protection than conventional flak jackets on the growing number of battlefields around the world.

That is just one application. The material and process behind it could be used in a wide array of industries and situations from protecting machinery and people in hazardous environments from mines to fires.

Last year Vikela Armour was named the overall winner of INVENT 2022, the competition for innovative start-ups in Northern Ireland that is run by the Catalyst innovation hub, which operates from Belfast and Derry.

Village Vets

Man in navy jacket.

An EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist for 2023 Charles Cosgrave is a qualified veterinary practitioner and CEO of Village Vets. Village Vets is a family-owned veterinary practice which was founded by his father, Karl Cosgrave, in 1980. Charles graduated from UCD veterinary school in 2001 and has practiced both in Ireland and the UK. Today he leads the management side of the business.

Village Vets is a multi-disciplinary veterinary practice that provides medical and surgical healthcare services for domestic pets. The practice employs 250 people across 19 clinics in Dublin, Meath and Wicklow. This year the practice will provide care to 125,000 patients.

Charles and the team at Village Vets have an unwavering commitment to providing exceptional veterinary care and are dedicated to meeting the evolving needs of their clients. Village Vets was one of the first practices in the world to use AI to analyse data/blood/skin and urine samples. This technology enables the team to provide quick diagnosis and treatment for sick animals.

Webio

Three men in black t-shirts.

Dublin and Limerick-based Webio provides conversational middleware for very large companies in retail, financial services, and utilities. Founded by Paul Sweeney, Graham Brierton, Mark Oppermann and Cormac O’Neill Webio recently raised €2.5m. Webio operates in the conversational AI market which is expected to grow to €11bn by 2024. While its customers have been predominantly in the Irish and UK markets, Webio has recently secured several key partnerships in Europe and the US, laying the foundations for future growth. Previously, Webio secured $4m to scale its conversational AI technology for use in the collections and payments industry worldwide. 

Writech

Man in navy jacket.

Led by Ted Wright, Writech Industrial Services, designs, manufactures, installs and maintains water-based fire protection and detection systems, from low-pressure fire sprinkler systems to ultra-high-pressure mist and gaseous systems.

During his tenure, the business has grown from annual revenues of €850,000 in 2001 to €124m this year. In 2020 Ted partnered with investment firm Waterland PE and this partnership is propelling the company’s growth to an anticipated €250m annual turnover by 2025.

WTech Fire, part of Writech, has announced three acquisitions, including Dublin-based Ideal Fire, for a total sum understood to be in the tens of millions.

Zerve

Four men in black.

Irish start-up Zerve’s platform allows teams to collaborate and share their outputs more easily. Zerve’s cloud-based, serverless technology utilises a novel, stateful architecture to create a scalable, collaborative development environment.

Zerve was co-founded in 2021, by college friends Phily Hayes (ex-LearnUpon and Deloitte) and Jason Hillary, PhD, Engineering, and later joined by Greg Michaelson, former Chief Customer Officer of DataRobot.

The company is currently one of 10 start-ups chosen from Europe to participate in Intel’s Ignite Accelerator program for deep-tech companies. Since 2019, the 148 companies that have gone through the programme have raised over €1.6bn.

Zerve recently raised $3.8m in pre-seed funding.

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.

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