Ireland Funds, NDRC Business Plan Competition opens for entries

Business Competition Plan winners 2018
Pictured: Bill McKiernan with Celine de Looze and Shona D'Arcy, Kids Speech Labs

Business ideas at pre-accelerator stage vie for share of €24,000 prize fund



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12 March 2019 | 0

Entries have opened for this year’s The Ireland Funds annual Business Plan Competition supported by NDRC, with a prize fund of €24,000 to available for three new technology business ideas at the pre-accelerator stage.

Business Plan Competition finalists have collectively gone on to raise €3.7 million in follow-on funding, with 45% of the cohort securing €100,000 or more.

Ten business ideas will be shortlisted and invited to participate in four pre-acceleration workshops, that take ideas from concept to pitch as well as receiving mentoring and feedback throughout the process.




After a final pitching event and three prizes will be awarded. The overall winner will have the opportunity to pitch for a place on one of NDRC’s investment programmes as well as securing a €15,000 cash prize. Second place will receive a €7,000 cash prize, and third place will receive €2,000.

Kids Speech Labs, founded by Shona D’Arcy and Celine de Looze, became the first all-female team to win the prize last year and is currently developing a suite of products which will enable parents to track their children’s speech development.

“The competition was a great starting point for our business, it helped us really understand what our business is about,” said Kids Speech Labs CEO D’Arcy. “The team at NDRC were incredibly supportive and the programme was both focused and fast paced. We came out of the competition with a clear vision of what was needed to build our start-up.”

The Business Plan Competition founder Bill McKiernan, president at WSM Capital, founder of CyberSource and board director of The Ireland Funds America, said: “The 2018 Business Plan Competition finalists were by far the best we’ve hosted to date, and the teams reflected the strength of entrepreneurship on the island of Ireland. It’s especially gratifying to see the growing representation by women. We were delighted to award Kids Speech Labs, created by a female duo, with first prize last year. We hope to see similar representation in 2019 and, with the significant increase in prize money, this will be our most ambitious year to date.”

The closing date for entries is 28 April 2019 and can be submitted at

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