Michael O’Connor CEO CorkBIC, Olive O’Driscoll Founder AventaMed, Joe Healy, Enterprise Ireland, Simon Coveney TD, An Tánaiste – Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Pete Smyth, Founder Broadlake. Photo: John Allen
500 startups later, leading business venture consultancy, CorkBIC celebrated its thirtieth anniversary at the Nano Nagle Centre in Cork City. The event was attended by business leaders from throughout the region, as well as the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Deputy Leader of Fine Gael, Simon Coveney, and the Leader of Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin.
The private sector-led organisation, specifically set up in 1988 to identify and support high growth companies in the South West of Ireland, has played a significant role in developing many of Ireland’s knowledge intensive companies over the last 30 years.
CorkBIC also operates in the scale-up arena, bringing experienced teams to address disruptive opportunities with strong governance and surgical market focus. Its unique style and hands-on approach has been behind the success of many companies, including Abtran, Compliance & Risks, Crest Solutions, Teamwork.com and others. CorkBIC-led initiatives like the Entrepreneur Experience and the Venture Academy have helped entrepreneurs raise €54.4 million in investment.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD commented: “Cork is very fortunate to have an organisation like CorkBIC at the coalface of innovative business startup activity in the region. The organisation plays a hands-on role in helping entrepreneurs navigate the tricky paths of raising finance, building great teams and finding customers. These are at the core of any new business starting up and as result we have seen many great companies come through this network.”
Michael O’Connor, CEO of CorkBIC, said: “Our objective is to identify and develop high-potential startup teams, those using promising technology with capable, innovative people. We have 40 or 50 projects in the pipeline at any one time, 85% of which go on to scale over the critical first five years, which far outstrips the international survival average of 50%.”
Damien McGovern, Founder of Compliance & Risks, commented: “Without CorkBIC, Compliance & Risks wouldn’t exist. It’s that simple. It’s important to have at your side people who have been there, done that, and who can recognise patterns, so as to direct and challenge you, especially at the beginning. You’re walking a tightrope and you need encouragement, structure and support, which I was fortunate enough to get, and for which I am still very grateful.”
Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, said: “CorkBIC plays an important role in shaping and developing the business ecosystem in Cork to support innovative start-ups, to reach their full potential. Enterprise Ireland will continue to work in close partnership with regional stakeholders, such as CorkBIC, to optimise the entrepreneurship potential of Cork, and to create and sustain jobs and prosperity in the Cork Region.”
The BIC celebrations are well-timed, coming after the successful rollout of its Accelerator programme in January of this year, which offered an investment of €50,000 to teams in the wider security sector. Its International Security Accelerator programme, supported by key funding partners Kernel Capital and Trend Micro, delivers transformational change in 13 weeks. The Accelerator invests in early stage disruptive companies across a wide range of tech sectors, such as Cybersecurity, Internet of Things (IOT), Blockchain, AI, Health & Bioinformatics, and Financial Services and Logistics. The first cohort is currently raising €5 million in investment and has already created 39 jobs.