Responsible invests £1.2m in Belfast HQ

Fast-growing fashion tech start-up Responsible is investing more than £1.2m in its business to support innovation and business development.

The investment will generate 13 new job at the company.

Based in Weavers Court, Belfast, the high-potential start-up aims to create a platform for sustainability and circularity in fashion by incentivising brands and consumers to buy, sell and trade clothes.

“The fashion industry needs to take meaningful steps towards de-carbonisation and critical to that is the embrace of circularity”

The company’s Buy Back program is key to this, partnering with fashion brands directly to include them in the resale of used clothes and facilitating the consumers’ return process.

This latest investment follows the company’s recent £5m seed funding round.

Circular economy

 “The fashion industry needs to take meaningful steps towards de-carbonisation and critical to that is the embrace of circularity,” said Mark Dowds, founder and CEO of Responsible.

“Our re-Commerce solution offers a sustainable experience for shoppers and strong economic incentives for the industry that makes sustainable fashion more accessible.”

Dowds is also a founder of the Ormeau Baths co-working space for local innovators and entrepreneurs.

He continued: “We first approached Invest Northern Ireland in early 2021 to see how it could support the setup of our sustainable business. I’ve seen first-hand the high standard of talent on offer in Northern Ireland through the development of Ormeau Baths. I knew that this type of talent would be vital to our success, and we decided to base our HQ in Belfast, over New York, London or Amsterdam.

“We have a zero-waste ambition for our business and need to be at the cutting edge of sustainable innovation if our business is to reach new markets in GB and Europe. With Invest NI’s support we will establish an innovation hub here in Belfast that will help us unlock growth. We’re excited to see what the future holds.”

Invest NI has offered Responsible £98,000 towards the creation of 13 jobs, along with strategic business advice and support to protect the company’s intellectual property. Eleven of the jobs are already in place.

“Responsible is a high-potential start-up with vast potential in the dynamic sustainability sector,” said Susan O’Kane, Invest NI’s Eastern Regional manager.

“With new business development identified as a key element of the Department for the Economy’s 10X Economic Vision our Eastern regional team has worked closely with Mark and his team to help it set up in Northern Ireland.

“We’ve offered tailored guidance and support to help it grow, including introductions to key players in the Northern Ireland fashion and textiles industry and advice on carbon savings, resource matching and trademarking. Our support will allow the company to grow at pace and put its international growth plans into action from its Belfast base.”

Responsible has also availed of funding from Techstart NI, part of Invest NI’s Access to Finance suite of debt and equity funds. Techstart NI is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014–2020.

Main image at top: Susan O’Kane, Invest NI’s Eastern Regional manager, and Mark Dowds, Responsible founder and CEO

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