The 2021 cohort of NDRC digital businesses

At a demo day this week, the new NDRC at Dogpatch Labs revealed innovations from a range of companies who aspire to become Ireland’s biggest brands and employers.

Originally established in 2006, the NDRC is a Government initiative to invest in very young digital enterprises and start-ups. Notable NDRC alumni include Irish biotech company Nuritas (which has raised almost €55m from investors including U2 rockers Bono and The Edge), Soundwave (a music discovery service backed by Mark Cuban and bought by Spotify in 2016), Boxever (which has raised $19m to fund their AI marketing cloud software), and Silvercloud Health (a digital health platform, used by over 300 organisations, that raised €14.7m in 2020) .

Following a competitive process, Dogpatch Labs, supported by its partner hubs in Cork, Kerry and Galway was awarded the €17m contract to manage the service for the next five years. Ignite, which is the UK’s most active regional accelerator, also supported the bid and will provide international support and knowledge sharing with the network.

“Typically top early stage Irish founders would have a preference for Techstars London or Y Combinator. With this new accelerator, we’re seeing top Irish talent stay and international founders come to Ireland”

The new NDRC, which replaces its predecessor, consists of a network of innovation hubs led by Dogpatch Labs and including Portershed Galway, Republic of Work Cork and RDI Hub Kerry. In Belfast, Ignite provides international support and knowledge sharing with the network.

The aim of the new NDRC is to develop a nationwide ecosystem with each regional hub representing a local centre of entrepreneurial excellence to support people in getting their ideas off the ground.

The new NDRC is one of the first European accelerators to adopt the SAFE instrument to invest. Developed by Y Combinator – one of the world’s top accelerators – a SAFE provides flexible, simple and transparent terms with lower legal costs. Terms include an uncapped valuation with a 20pc discount.

A €500,000 bundle of perks includes 12 months of free office space, post-accelerator support, investor lunches and international trips.

“The ecosystem in Ireland has reached a new phase, we’re now starting to see the second order effects 15 years after the likes of Google arrived, with new startups emerging from Irish unicorns and big-tech that is based here”, said Paddy Walsh, CEO Dogpatch Labs. 

“Typically top early stage Irish founders would have a preference for Techstars London or Y Combinator. With this new accelerator, we’re seeing top Irish talent stay and international founders come to Ireland.”

The 2021 NDRC cohort includes:

  • Dataships – Co-located in Dublin and San Francisco, Dataships helps SMEs comply with laws such as GDPR and the US CCPA. The company entered into the accelerator with three people and €150k raised. It recently announced a seed round of $3m with US VCs Urban Innovation Fund and Lavrock Ventures along with Irish billionaire Tony Smurfit.
  • Vidu – Vidu helps firms to humanise their sales pitch and outreach with peronal GIFs. Three co-founders of Irish unicorn Intercom have committed to be angel investors in this new Irish start-up founded by ex-Intercom early employees. Early customers include Greenhouse, Fivetran, Intercom
  • Guardara – Described as ‘Grammarly for writing secure code’, Guardara recently announced its technology was used to detect a significant security flaw, a ‘zero-day vulnerability’, in an open-source project. This is a rare achievement by the security community. 
  • Robotify – Led by a 23-year-old CEO, Robotify recently announced a new landmark customer Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak for his ‘WozEd’ company. A virtual showcase with Steve Wozniak has been set for next month.
  • Hiiker – Led by CEO Paul Finlay, Hiiker is building ‘The Instagram of Hiking’. Hiking influencer Roz Purcell recently joined the team as global head of Community. Users have tripled to 170,000 hikers since the start of the accelerator.
  • Inferex – The 18-year-old Cork founder of Inferex Greg Tarr is following in the footsteps of Stripe founders and Sequoia-backed Evervault in winning Ireland’s BT Young Scientist. Inferex recently raised $1m in funding from Frontline, ACT, NDRC and others.
  • Kana – Created by London-based Chuka Ebi, formerly an engineer in Intercom’s London office, Kana has developed a ready-made pricing infrastructure that can plug and play. The company recentlyclosed an angel round and launched an early-access with seven customers including Graphy, Rombo and Caucus.
  • Orcadia – Founded by Richard Whelan, Orcadia is a virtual game platform designed for team-building in a remote working world. So far, more than 450 companies have signed-up at orcadia.app for their early access, including companies like Google, Salesforce and Amazon.
  • Legitify -Dublin and Stockholm-based Legitify has built a remote online notarisation tool. It is currently running pilots with fintech companies such as: Zimpler, Transfergo, Treyd & other SMEs and have LOIs from law firms such as: Mccann Fitzgerald and Seedlegals.
  • Gain Grain -Founded by ex-Stripe engineer John Hannon, Gain Grain specialises in market intelligence for the alcohol industry. It has conducted a beta with five paying customers, including two of the largest distilleries in Virginia.
  • Outcaster – Founded by Cassie Delaney, Outcaster helps creators to monetise their digital content. The platform is already generating €24,000 in monthly payments and has a waitlist of 40 creators waiting to start on Outcaster representing 400,000 potential subscribers.

Click here to read an interview with Dogpatch Labs CEO Paddy Walsh

Applications are already open for the next NDRC Accelerator at Dogpatch Labs starting in January and can be submitted at https://www.ndrc.ie/accelerator.

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

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