The IGNITE programme at UCC, which nurtures start-ups from ideas to commercial reality, is a ‘cradle of innovation’ that can drive regional growth in the next decade, according to Tánaiste Simon Coveney.
The Tánaiste was speaking as he met the latest tranche of third-level graduates from all over Ireland who recently began the programme.
Founded in 2011, IGNITE is a joint initiative by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, the Local Enterprise Offices in and UCC to encourage entrepreneurship and enterprise creation.
Since then, it has worked with around 100 start-ups and over 120 founders who have launched companies such as AnaBio Technologies, ApisProtect, Eurocomply, EziVein, LegitFit, OnTheQt, PunditArena, Supply.ie, Talivest, TrustAp and Vconnecta.
Based at UCC, the 12-month IGNITE programme is open to all recent graduates from all third level institutions in Ireland to work full-time on a scalable start-up idea with potential for commercial or social impact. It is supported by Bank of Ireland.
IGNITE director Eamon Curtin said a vital part of the programme’s success was collaboration with local industry.
“Establishing relationships with members of the business community who want to assist the next generation of successful startups has been a boon to IGNITE graduates. The value of being able to call on the experience of businesses who have navigated the twists and turns of commercial realities cannot be understated.”
Trying to grow a startup from scratch is an arduous process, especially when it comes to funding, he said.
“Having members of the business community willing to assist with funding our IGNITE participants is essential. Our early stage start-ups need seed funding, there is no way around that.
Recent graduates can go a long way on relatively little money but are less well able to raise those funds themselves.”
He said the temptation for IGNITE participants is to take a part-time job in order to raise their own funds but this distracts them from developing the business.
“If we can build up a network of businesses in our ecosystem willing to provide those early-stage funds to IGNITE participants, then we will see the commercial potential of businesses on the programme improve immeasurably.”