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BREAKING NEWS: It’s official – RDI Hub, Dogpatch LabsPorterShed, and Republic of Work have been appointed to run Ireland’s national startup accelerator programme NDRC by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. This #NewEra marks the first time that a national network of innovation hubs will collaborate to support entrepreneurs across every county in Ireland.

FREE NDRC 2020 Reidín O Connor, Member and Community Manager, Liam Cronin, CEO and Fionnuala O Callaghan, Operations Manager in RDI Hub

Established in 2006, the NDRC is a Government initiative to invest in very young digital enterprises and start-ups. Following a competitive process, Dogpatch Labs, supported by its partners RDI Hub Kerry, Republic of Work Cork and Portershed Galway has been 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.

“The next phase of the NDRC connects ecosystems across the country, with each regional hub representing a local centre of entrepreneurial excellence to support people in getting their ideas off the ground,” said Eamon Ryan TD, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications. “Being well connected throughout our regions as well as internationally means that we can share knowledge and grow together as a country. The digital revolution is all about trying, failing and innovating, and I’m pleased that Dogpatch Labs and its regional partners will collaborate to help the next generation of entrepreneurs get started.”

Liam Cronin, CEO of RDI Hub said “This will ensure the best investors, advisors, researchers and technologists are accessible to all our globally ambitious entrepreneurs, regardless of where those entrepreneurs are in the country

View from RDI Hub

RDI Hub, based in Killorglin, Co Kerry is backed by Fexco, Institute of Technology, Tralee and Kerry County Council. A first of its kind, RDI Hub focuses on commercialisation of innovation and research in the technologies’ sectors and helps both indigenous and international start-ups and corporates scale their business. RDI Hubs is supported under the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation‘s Regional Enterprise Development Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland.

Dogpatch Labs, which led the tender, is located in the CHQ Building at the centre of Dublin’s Digital Docklands. It has become the heart of the Dublin tech community in recent years hosting mentorship sessions with the likes of Intercom’s Des Traynor, Nuritas’ Nora Khaldi, Pointy’s Mark Cummins, Voxpro’s Linda Kiely, serial entrepreneur Pat Phelan and many others.

“As we start the next decade, our vision is to drive a new era for entrepreneurship in Ireland in collaboration with the entire ecosystem,” said Patrick Walsh, CEO of Dogpatch Labs. “To achieve this, locally embedded innovation hubs will ensure that startup supports are delivered across the country. And with international experts as advisors and mentors, we’ll be globally connected to help ambitious startups scale internationally.”

RDI Hub, Co Kerry

Notable startup alumni from the hubs include Taxamo at RDI Hub, Evervault (the first Irish company to be backed by Sequoia Capital) and Teckro (who raised $25M from Peter Thiel’s Founder’s Fund) at Dogpatch Labs, Altocloud (acquired by Genesys) at Portershed. Republic of Work also counts Dan Kiely (who sold Cork-headquartered Voxpro for an estimated €150M) as its Director.

The partners will deliver the NDRC programmes via “a hub and spoke model”, which sees each hub interacting with other emerging hubs, universities and incubators in its region to catalyse entrepreneurial support across every county in Ireland. Additionally, Google for Startups, as part of its partnership with Dogpatch Labs, will open its global programmes and passporting benefits to the NDRC participants to accelerate international expansion.

Five of Ireland’s top venture capital firms Act, Atlantic Bridge, Delta Partners, Frontline, and Polaris Partners supported the bid and have committed to providing expert support and best practices.

Ignite also runs the Northern Ireland startup accelerator and will share best practices with NDRC startups. “We wanted to be part of this vision to encourage cross-border innovation and create a collaborative environment for entrepreneurs in a post-Brexit world,” said Jon Bradford, co-founder of Ignite. “Innovation needs more bridges with like-minded entrepreneurs and we look forward to working with our colleagues across the border.”

The new NDRC programmes will take place in Kerry, Cork, Dublin and Galway, with applications opening in Q1 2021.

Founder Circle powered by RDI Hub in association with Scale Ireland

Startups have faced a challenging year, with COVID-19 impacting funding levels significantly. In response RDI Hub’s launched Founder’s Circle with Scale Ireland supporting over 100+ founders. Dogpatch Labs have continued to deliver impactful mentorship programmes virtually, with initiatives including Patch (an accelerator for talented young people), First Fridays (mentorship for startups in Ireland), and a number of accelerator programs with ESB and Ulster Bank running successfully throughout the year.

Further successful virtual programmes include Portershed’s Validator (pre-accelerator for early-stage startups), and Republic of Work’s Lunch & Learn (weekly knowledge-sharing).

The contract win coincides with the launch of the Irish Tech Hub Network, made up of Dogpatch Labs, Portershed, Republic of Work, and RDI Hub, with other best-in-class innovation hubs Ludgate Hub Cork and Ormeau Baths Belfast. The network will collaborate to share knowledge and resources to drive innovation across the island of Ireland.

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