Vibrant tech start-ups have formed a hub that is full of creative energy
Two months ago, 20 aspiring start-up founders took the brave step of launching a business - many of them leaving the security of a 9-5 job in pursuit of their new venture.
The Ignite NI Propel Pre-Accelerator launched at the start of February with the support of Invest Northern Ireland. The idea of the six-month programme is to allow tech start-ups to experiment with developing technology prototypes and business models to help them gain market traction.
Its vibrant bunch of founders have taken over part of the former Ormeau Baths to form a hub of creative energy. What makes this group so special is that, for most of them, this is their first step into the world of launching a business and their first opportunity to play a part in the thriving innovation ecosystem in Belfast.
We have started exploring the market for their products and services, trying to understand how they can engage in meaningful conversations with customers.
The founders have been able to connect with some creative and entrepreneurial experts. Mentors like Paul Smith (HyperLoop), Gerald Vanderpuye (BuyerDeck) and Bailey Kursar (Monzo) have been sharing insights.
They have been developing skills and knowledge in fundamentals to launch their start-up. We have been teaching them methods in customer development, design, sales, marketing and investment, alongside a lot of mentoring to really challenge assumptions about the venture.
It's an invaluable process that helps founders on the road to the next phase of their development - a phase we're also working on with the Ignite NI Accelerator programme.
Launched in March, the Ignite NI Accelerator programme takes 10 tech start-ups from NI and beyond through an intensive programme designed to help them grow their business in global markets.
All of the companies are at a stage where they are looking to raise between £250,000 and £1m in funding, and over the course of the 12-week accelerator they will receive mentoring and practical advice from start-up experts and investors to equip them on that journey.
The programme has attracted founders from Dublin, England and as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
It's a vital step that we believe complements the existing support currently available in the NI tech ecosystem, providing an additional layer of advice and support for those entrepreneurs who are ready to start the process of scaling up.
NI is already home to several tech companies that have made a global impact, but we need more of them. So we really hope some of the companies going through our two programmes will one day be key players in the next generation of great tech companies.
Peter Edgar is programme manager for Ignite NI
10 companies on the Ignite NI Accelerator
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