Dublin will connect start-ups with big tech firms

A new scheme will help entrepreneurs connect with big tech companies like Google and Facebook

Dublin's first start-up commissioner plans to make it easier for entrepreneurs to connect with large companies, through a new scheme that allows Dublin-born companies to get mentorship and advice from more established tech firms.

The Multinational Engagement Program will launch in the city by June 2016, Niamh Bushnell, Dublin commissioner for start-ups, told IT Pro, helping multinationals and start-ups work together in ways that are mutually beneficial.

"Each of the companies has nominated a single point of contact internally to be the evangelist between them and the start-ups in Dublin," said Bushnell. "So that person's name and contact details will be on the platform and, in the intitial stages, we'll actually play the role of buffer between the two, so start-ups will come through us to gain access to that person.

"But over time once we understand more about the kind of queries and the things they're looking for, we'll allow them to connect through the platform directly. And, really, the point of connecting is to get mentorship, to get validation on their product and then from there more things will fall out of that relationship being built."

Multinationals want to connect with start-ups but lack a streamlined method of doing so, she added, and the Multinational Engagement Program will allow businesses of all sizes to connect fully with the wider tech ecosystem in Dublin. 

More than 200 multinational tech firms have a base in Dublin and could benefit from the programme, including Facebook, Twitter, Google, AdRoll, HubSpot and Airbnb. 

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The initiative would complement the Definitive Data Project, launched in late December 2015 to collect a comprehensive informaiton about Dublin's start-ups, such as funding, number of employees, commercial space, training, clients and specialisations.

This will provide an easily accessible, up-to-date database of companies launched in the city, also acting as a tool to market companies more widely.  

Such in-depth data allows two things to happen, Bushnell said.

"It allows us as an ecosystem to measure where we're at, the quality of our companies, the quality of their entrepreneurial journey, the support that the government and the private industries in Dublin are providing to them," she told IT Pro.

"It also allows us to use that database as a marketing and business development tool to the world, so that we can go out and say these companies exist and show off the strength of different sectors." 

Companies will thus be able to access a list of around 1,200 companies that could fit their needs, rather than a small selection, and start-ups that may have been overlooked will gain vital exposure. 

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Despite being launched on 18 December, just days before the Christmas period, Bushnell told IT Pro that hundreds of people signed on to look almost immediately, and that the high level of interest has continued. 

Dublin has typically been strong in the fintech and travel tech sectors, but the data needed to support this has been hard to come by.

All companies hoping to feature on the list will have to be vetted first to be certain they were born and bred in Dublin but, once on there, they will remain listed no matter how large they become. 

"Our pedigree is something people don't realise  they don't realise we've been there way before most of the other tech ecosystems in Europe because of the American connection and because of the American multinationals," said Bushnell.

"It's one of the reasons why the ecosystem just feels so mature in Dublin, because we've been doing this at a small scale for a really long time and had a lot of big success stories." 

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