Business

Start-ups on Propel Pre-Accelerator make a global impact

The Propel class of 2019

START-ups on this year's Propel Pre-Accelerator have created products and partnerships in the US, Asia, and Europe and many are primed to surpass their initial revenue expectations.

This was the message from a showcase event to celebrate the end of the current Propel Pre-Accelerator, a six-month programme, supported by Invest NI, which is designed to help tech start-ups turn their ideas into viable, scalable businesses.

The Pre-Accelerator is delivered by Ignite, which has helped companies across the UK raise over $100m to date, and offers participants expert workshops, tutorials, access to professional mentoring, networking opportunities, financial support and access to investors.

Nineteen companies graduated this year's programme which culminated in a pitch and networking event to an assembled audience of founders, investors and stakeholders at Ormeau Baths.

Chris McClelland, programme director at Ignite NI, said: “There is no doubt with the right focus and mind-set, early stage companies from Northern Ireland can make an impact globally.

“Our Pre-Accelerator businesses are making a difference in how we interact and gain value from technology. For example, tackling how medical professionals collaborate; transforming how retailers use data to improve buying experiences; changing how communities are formed online and fighting burnout in the professional Esports industry.

“Many of the founders have gone from early stage ideas to securing contracts worth tens of thousands of pounds. It's been a true pleasure watching the teams grow and develop and I'm excited about their future and for the startup community in Northern Ireland.”

The 2019 cohort is the second Pre-Accelerator programme supported by Invest Northern Ireland as part of its strategy to develop and promote entrepreneurship and encourage founders to take the leap to creating their own business. The programme runs in parallel with a 3 month Accelerator designed to help teams to the next level of growth in international markets, which multiple teams from the Pre-Accelerator are expected to graduate on to next year.

Invest NI director Niall Casey added: “This year's Propel Pre-Accelerator teams have proved exceptional. It's refreshing to see so many early stage business ideas and concepts from across Northern Ireland accelerated into potentially scalable businesses over a short six-month programme period.

“With the ongoing support of Ignite, Invest NI and the rapidly evolving Northern Ireland entrepreneurial ecosystem, I'm confident they will go forward to make an impact and add significant value to the economy.”

This year's group of founders comprises start-up entrepreneurs from different backgrounds.

Chris McClelland said: “This cohort of entrepreneurs is incredibly diverse, but also incredibly ambitious, including those who have come straight from university, others who left their jobs, some who have founded previous start-ups, parents and even some who have become parents during the programme.

“What they have in common is the entrepreneurial spirit needed to take the brave decision to pursue their own ideas and business aspirations. That takes real commitment. but we also need a collaborative approach and continued support from our stakeholders to see real growth in the Northern Ireland entrepreneurial and tech ecosystem.”

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