The Mideast region is fast becoming a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity as exciting new projects such as the Boyne Valley Food Innovation District, the Merits Innovation Thinkspace, the Clermont Enterprise Hub, and the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre promote and support global ambition across this thriving ecosystem.
The counties encircling Dublin continue to build their reputation as a thriving startup ecosystem. The Mid-East Regional Enterprise Plan to 2024 was launched in March 2022 with €180 million in funding to implement innovative ecosystem development projects. The Kildare 2025 Economic Development strategy includes the provision of high-speed broadband and remote working hubs, creation of a startup-friendly environment, and investment in green economy initiatives. The Agile Innovation Fund allows companies to access up to 50% of the cost of innovation projects up to a total cost of €300,000 with fast-track approval. Grants covering up to 25% of project costs are available. Funded by Google and announced in December 2022, the Changing Ireland Accelerator Programme supports underserved social entrepreneurs. According to the Irish Venture Capital Association VenturePulse survey, VC investment in Irish tech firms totaled €1.33 billion in 2022.
There are currently 14 purpose-built entrepreneurial hubs across the Mid-East Region, with another 5 due to open in 2023. The Kells Tech Hub is an enterprise development, training, and coworking facility that seeks to support startups to go global. Science and technology park Kildare Innovation Campus, near Maynooth University, seeks to become a leading innovation campus in Europe. In January 2022, Echelon Data Centres announced the construction of two data centers in County Wicklow. Leixlip-based Binarii Labs, a developer of SaaS solutions that de-risk and protect enterprises, raised $1.64 million in seed funding in March 2022, putting the company's pre-money valuation at $6.5 million.
Ecosystem by the Numbers
Agtech & New Food
Employment in climate, sustainability, and Agtech grew 13% in Ireland in 2022. Boyne Valley Food Hub, a project of Boyne Valley Food Innovation District, aims to accelerate growth in food businesses across the Mideast and Northeast regions through collaboration, innovation, and clustering. The project will create an innovative food hub with nine food-grade units, a timeshare development kitchen and food R&D lab, sensory testing facilities, a food-specific coworking hub, and a knowledge lab.
In January 2023, the Department of Transport announced plans to increase the number of public rapid electric vehicle charging points from around 1,700 to over 4,500 within three years. Cushaling Wind Farm is expected to be operational in late 2024. The first large-scale ground-mounted solar farm to supply electricity to the Irish grid opened in County Wicklow in 2022. INFORMBIO is a project to develop a low-carbon roadmap for Ireland’s bioeconomy. The Climate Innovation Fund 2022 aims to foster innovative climate solutions in Kildare.
Launched in October 2022, Sandbox is a collaborative project from Meath Enterprise, the Boyne Valley Food Innovation District, and Maynooth University to deliver education in Life Sciences. TU Dublin's Graduate Business School, in partnership with the School of Chemical Pharmaceutical Sciences, offers Ireland’s first Executive MBA in Life Sciences Leadership. A Life Sciences incubation and acceleration facility opened at The Campus, Cherrywood in South Dublin in December 2022. The center provides lab, office, and collaboration space for over 100 Life Science professionals, entrepreneurs, and researchers.
Reasons to Move Your Startup to Mid-East Region
Highly Educated Talent
Maynooth University is Ireland’s fastest growing university, with over 11,000 students from more than 90 countries. A national skills platform launched in February 2023 to help close Ireland’s digital skills gap. The project is being driven by Learnovate, Ireland’s future of work and learning research hub at Trinity College Dublin, along with Cisco and the national workforce development agency, Skillnet Ireland.
Research & Development
Maynooth University houses seven cutting-edge research institutes and boasts one of the best records for commercializing research of any Irish university. In March 2023, two new programs were launched by the Irish Government to support innovators and researchers with more than €63 million in funding. Siemens Healthineers launched a Centre of Excellence for Immunoassay Instrument R&D in the Mid-East Region.
Ireland offers startups and SMEs a range of grants, loans, tax breaks, and other funding. The Short-Term Enterprise Allowance supports unemployed individuals who plan to start a business. The Start-up Refunds for Entrepreneurs scheme allows entrepreneurs to claim back income tax when starting a business. New businesses are eligible for corporate tax exemption for their first three years. Microfinance Ireland provides loans for commercially viable products, and the Digital Transition Fund supports businesses at all stages and in all sectors.
Selected Startup Organizations
Startup Genome Members
Meath Enterprise is a commercially focused local government (not-for-profit) enterprise-development company with a remit/mission to drive local, regional, and national innovation and enterprise development through the provision of business incubation and support services, collaboration, clustering, and creative thinking. We work with partners across all sectors from Government, Education, Corporate, SME and Social Enterprise to deliver step-change ecosystem development projects such as the Boyne Valley Food Innovation District, the new Digital Innovation and Smart Agri Hub and many other world class startup incubation and coworking projects, services, and facilities.
Key Ecosystem Players
News from the Ecosystem
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