Two Irish start-ups to attend prestigious Blackbox Connect accelerator

Iseult Ward, FoodCloud
Pictured: Iseult Ward, FoodCloud

Foodcloud, Webio go West after beating out international competition

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14 November 2017 | 0

Irish start-ups Webio and FoodCloud have been named as two of 16 international companies selected for Blackbox Connect – an Silicon Valley-based accelerator programme supported by Google for Entrepreneurs.

Blackbox Connect brings start-ups from all over the world together for two weeks to learn about how the Silicon Valley mindset can foster growth while connecting with entrepreneurs, investors, thought leaders and executives.

This year the competition received more than 210 applicants from 42 countries working in areas as diverse as fintech, artificial intelligence,​ ​machine​ ​learning,​ ​and​ ​sustainability.

The Irish nominees come from start-up hub Dogpatch Labs who works closely with organisations like Enterprise Ireland and Google Ireland’s start-up support team.​ ​

Since 2013, more than a dozen Irish start-ups have participated in Blackbox Conect, with Newswhip and Restored Hearing the first to take part.

Paddy Flynn, director at Google Ireland, said: ​“It’s great to see so many players in the start-up ecosystem working together to accelerate Irish start-ups on the global stage throughout their journey of growth – from Enterprise Ireland who provide the seed and follow-on financing, start-up hubs like Dogpatch Labs, and multinationals like Google who work with start-ups to transfer their knowledge locally and many more.”

Webio is a develops middleware that enables organisations bring voice interaction to messaging​ ​platforms like​ ​as​ ​Facebook​ ​Messenger,​ ​Viber. It is also working on ​services​ for Amazon’s​ ​Alexa digital assistant​ ​and​ ​Google​ ​Home. The company is entering its second year after raising €2.2 million from California-based Cameo Global and Enterprise Ireland.

FoodCloud, a former winner of Google’s Adopt a Start-Up Programme, is a social enterprise that started as a college project set up by co-founders Iseult Ward (pictured) and Aoibheann O’Brien that connects businesses with surplus/excess food to charities that need food through a software platform. To date, the company has helped divert 8,300 tonnes of food from landfill and employs more than 30 people tackling food waste from almost 2,500 supermarkets across the United Kingdom and Ireland.

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