Nine companies take off with Start Planet NI

Startup Planet NI
Pictured: Bill Liao, SOSventures and Wayne Murphy (centre) with the participants of the Start Planet NI Accelerator programme

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24 November 2015 | 0

Nine start-ups from Northern Ireland, the Republic and abroad have begun a three-month accelerator programme at a purpose-built space in Belfast.

Start Planet NI, Northern Ireland’s only equity-backed accelerator, is backed by private sector investment through the Northern Ireland Startup Fund. The programme will use an Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) as the vehicle to allow entrepreneurs and investors to invest in Start Planet NI start-ups. Operational costs of running the accelerator are being handled by Invest Northern Ireland.

The nine successful entrants for this round came from a pool of 300 applicants and are based at 112 Donegall St, a purpose-designed space in the heart of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter – part of a global network of SOSventures Revolution co-working spaces.

As well as benefitting from access to the Global Accelerator Network and a programme of mentoring and support, companies will have the option to stay on at Donegall St for a further six months free of charge.

The programme is being delivered by a team led by start-up mentor and founder Bill Liao of SOSventures; Diane Roberts from Xcell Partners; and Wayne Murphy, Start Planet accelerator manager.

“Globally, accelerator programmes are known to be a crucial ingredient in successful start-up communities and without such a programme Belfast was at risk of falling further behind other regions,” said Liao. “We believe that the introduction of Start Planet NI now represents the final part of the local startup ecosystem here and we are delighted that so many international and local companies have viewed Belfast as their start-up location of choice. With this type of programme we can now help make Belfast the business start-up hub of Europe and build an entrepreneurial ecosystem which can deliver long-term positive economic impact for Northern Ireland.”

Roberts added: “We know that supporting ambitious entrepreneurs to develop innovative start-ups is a critical part of Northern Ireland’s broader economic strategy. We also know how difficult it is to attract the best start-ups, given the growing number of quality start-up accelerator programmes across the world. To compete, we have put together a compelling proposition which combines private equity funding, innovative workspace, top quality mentoring and business support along with global networks and reach, ensuring we are offering the best start possible for these local and international entrepreneurs. We are confident that this approach will help build a strong and vibrant start-up community within the wider NI knowledge economy and put Belfast firmly on the map as a start-up hotspot.”

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