Innovation Nation

Niamh Bushnell the CEO of TechIreland says it is her mission to “tell the tale of innovation in Ireland”. Another mission is to make sure female founders have better access to funding.

niamh bushnell

TechIreland, for those who may not know, is a platform that tracks innovation across all 26 counties in Ireland.

“We track what companies are innovating in each county, what their strengths are, what progress they are making, who their customers are, what their business model is, and what supports and funding they received (if any). Users of TechIreland can also request an introduction with the companies they are interested in,” explains Bushnell.

The information available on TechIreland has many useful applications.

“It’s useful for anyone interested in innovation in Ireland, whether that be business founders, investors, startups, job seekers and FDI firms,” says Bushnell.

“We want this book to land in front of global decision makers and influencers.”

TechIreland uses public sources to build the business profiles on the site and also produces reports.

“We produced our first annual report on Irish innovation in January 2018 and it’s been downloaded over 1,200 times since,” says Bushnell.

From this report came a coffee-table book, Innovation Nation. It was dispatched by the Department of Foreign Affairs to Irish consulates and embassies all over the world for St. Patrick’s Day, 2018.

“We want this book to land in front of global decision makers and influencers,” says Bushnell. “It features over 100 companies we’ve been tracking during the year and shows people that these are Irish companies, building and expanding out of Ireland.”

“Many cultural changes need to happen in Ireland before there is equality in the startup scene.”

More places at the funding table 

Bushnell and her team also recently launched a year-long campaign called the €100m Campaign.

“There was just €79.4m secured by female-led startups in 2017 in comparison to the €580m we’d tracked in total funding for the year,” says Bushnell.

“It made us think why not set a goal. Given that TechIreland tracks and measures companies and funding, why don’t we set a target for the startup ecosystem and female founders to reach €100m in 2018?”

“This isn’t some kind of PR stunt,” explains Bushnell. “It’s about TechIreland supporting and reporting on innovative female founders and playing our part to promote more places at the funding table for them.”

Bushnell says many cultural changes in Ireland need to happen before there is equality in the startup scene.

“I’ve seen female founders been criticised for being ‘too ambitious’,” says Bushnell. “That would never or rarely happen to a male founder. Female founders need to be more confident and the unconscious bias that sits with many investors has to change.”

To learn more about the €100m Campaign, click here.

To order a copy of Innovation Nation 2018, go here.

Interview by Stephen Conmy.

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