Govt extends NDRC contract as start-ups raise €180m

More than 650 jobs created in Ireland by NDRC start-ups in the last three years, 30% by women-led or co-led investments.

The Irish Government has extended the contract for a cluster of innovation hubs across Ireland to continue running the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) for a further two years.

NDRC operates through a network of innovative startup hubs, including Dogpatch Labs in Dublin, PorterShed in Galway, RDI Hub in Kerry, and Republic of Work in Cork. These hubs serve as connectors, bringing together various stakeholders across the startup ecosystem to support and nurture founders.

“In a period of momentous change in both the macro and micro environment, we’ve continued to instill this ‘founder-first’ mentality”

According to a new report, the founder-first, entrepreneur-led focus woven throughout programmes has led to over €56m being raised by startups who participated in the programmes over the last three years alone, and €180m by the entire NDRC portfolio during the same period, resulting in 650 jobs created, and thousands of individuals supported via educational aspects.

Rising with the regions

Accelerator startups raised over €35m where examples include IP monitoring software GreyScout (€3.5m), cyber startup Cytidel (€1.35m), and Examfly (€1.5m). In three years, €21m was raised by Pre-Accelerator alumni. Notable examples of this early-stage success include Galway-based ByoWave – a video game controller for gamers with disabilities (€2.4M), and Tipperary-based trio Zerve ($3.8m).

“In a period of momentous change in both the macro and micro environment, we’ve continued to instill this ‘founder-first’ mentality, adapting to startups’ real-time needs, and delivering programmes, which are entrepreneur-led and reflect growing startup trends – whether that’s new topics like Deeptech and Generative AI, or the introducing one of Europe’s first SAFE instruments on ‘founder-friendly’ investment terms to Irish startups,” said Ian Browne, managing director of the NDRC.

For founders, by founders

NDRC has enjoyed huge support from over 100 founders and operators as mentors who have built or exited companies worth a combined net value of €5Bn including Mark Cummins (sold Pointy to Google for over $100m), Bobby Healy (Former CTO of CarTrawler, valued at over €500M), Áine Kerr (Led Storyful through €18m acquisition), Pat Phelan (Co-Founder SISU, sold Trustev for $40 million), and Jules Coleman (sold for €35m).

Since 2021, NDRC has managed multiple successful NDRC portfolio company exits, notable examples including 2021 alumnus Robotify which secured a partnership with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak followed by an acquisition by global edtech Imagine Learning, fintech Chasing Returns was acquired by Nasdaq-listed StoneX group, and SilverCloud was acquired by telehealth giant Amwell, as part of a combined $320m deal.

NDRC then reinvests in new initiatives that support the creation of world-class digital companies, and has funded pilot programmes including Founders Talent Accelerator, 2050 Sustainability Accelerator, First Fridays for Startups, Patch Youth Accelerator, and the NDRC Women Entrepreneurs Network.

Over the past 3 years, NDRC has introduced and open-sourced a founder-friendly SAFE investment instruments. Furthermore, NDRC has facilitated over 600 introductions to investment funds, leading to strategic investments in Irish startups, from Ireland and abroad.

During the period a new NDRC Women Entrepreneurs Network was created which now has 400+ members, and to date, 30% of NDRC accelerator investments comprise women-led or co-led startups. 

Mary Rodgers, CEO at PorterShed, a regional hub partner said: “NDRC has extended PorterShed’s role regionally, offering high-quality early-stage supports to more tech startups in the West and North West. In the PorterShed first five years of operation, we’ve helped create 835 high-value sustainable jobs (KPMG-validated). We look forward to building on this success through programmes like NDRC, and the welcome news of the two-year extension.”

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