Dogpatch Labs awarded €17m contract to manage NDRC

New set of programmes to take place across Cork, Dublin, Galway and Kerry
Eamon Ryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications at the NDRC

16 December 2020

The Irish government has awarded the contract to manage the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) to members of a new network of innovation nationwide hubs.

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 nationwide partner hubs, has been awarded the €17 million contract to manage the service for the next five years.

Dogpatch Labs Dublin, along with Portershed Galway, Republic of Work Cork, and RDI Hub Kerry, will deliver mentorship-driven accelerator and pre-accelerator programmes, and pre-seed funding to entrepreneurs across Ireland. They will invest in globally focused, ‘high impact’ start-ups, to create world-class internationally scalable Irish companies. 




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.

Dogpatch Labs will manage the current and future NDRC portfolio going forward, and already counts many of those companies as members of its community in the CHQ Building. A vibrant part of the Dublin tech community, in recent years Dogpatch Labs has hosted 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. 

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. As part of its partnership with Dogpatch Labs, Google for Start-ups will open its global programmes and passporting benefits to the NDRC participants to accelerate international expansion.

“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 start-up supports are delivered across the country. And with international experts as advisors and mentors, we’ll be globally connected to help ambitious start-ups scale internationally.”

Dogpatch Labs brings an entrepreneur-led approach, with an international mentorship network that will allow start-ups the best international advice to compete in a global marketplace. In addition to its regional partners, 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. 

The new NDRC programmes will take place across Cork, Dublin, Galway and Kerry, with applications opening in the first quarter of 2021.

A key focus will be on maximising the portfolio’s success through new supports including networking opportunities, investor access, and preparation for building, scaling, and securing follow-on funding. 

“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 Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan. “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.”

Ignite also runs the Northern Ireland start-up accelerator and will share best practices with NDRC start-ups. “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.”

Start-ups have faced a challenging year, with Covid-19 impacting funding levels significantly. In response Dogpatch Labs have continued to deliver mentorship programmes virtually, with initiatives including Patch (an accelerator for talented young people), First Fridays (mentorship for start-ups in Ireland), and a number of accelerator programs with ESB and Ulster Bank running successfully throughout the year. 

Further successful regional virtual programmes include RDI Hub’s The Founder’s Circle (a space for founders to learn from each other), Portershed’s Validator (pre-accelerator for early-stage start-ups), 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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