Cork County Council’s “Bridge to MassChallenge Cork” Accelerator Programme took home the award for “Promoting Economic Development” at the Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards 2019.
Cork County Council formed a strategic alliance with the Boston-based MassChallenge in 2017. Comprising of a global network of zero equity startup accelerators, MassChallenge is headquartered in the US and is active in locations such as Israel, Mexico, Switzerland and the UK. The network is committed to strengthening the global innovation ecosystem by supporting high potential early-stage startups across all industries, from anywhere in the world. To date, 1,495 MassChallenge alumni have raised over $3 billion in funding, generated over $2 billion in revenue, and created over 80,000 total jobs.
Through its Bridge to MassChallenge programme, MassChallenge partners with international leaders to build stronger innovation ecosystems, driving the creation of high-quality jobs by supporting entrepreneurs and connecting them to a global network. The programme collaborates with local entities to understand the potential and value of their unique ecosystem, empowers them to build their innovation communities and connects them to global markets.
“Bridge to MassChallenge Cork” was introduced as an accelerator competition targeted towards the life science, medical technology and digital health business sectors, culminating with twelve winning startup companies availing of an intensive one week business boot camp in Boston.
The competition, endorsed by Enterprise Ireland and Health Innovation Hub Ireland, was launched in November 2017 with an Ecosystem Audit, devised to provide MassChallenge with an understanding of the Cork Startup Ecosystem, while allowing the entrepreneurs to gain a deeper understanding of the programme.
Out of fifty eight applications received, twenty were chosen to attend the Cork Bootcamp which covered themes such as startup infrastructure, business/marketing resources and mentoring. From the original twenty businesses, twelve were then selected to go on to the Boston Bootcamp, which provided tailored training and workshop in areas such as startup sales and US market entry, as well as an introduction to the Boston Irish Business Association and consulate networking events.
The twelve successful companies selected for the Boston Bootcamp were Alcass Health Solutions, Gasgon Medical, Hidramed Solutions, Marion Surgical, BioBind, Medrec.io, Cortechs, CroiValve, Nasal Medical, Remedy Biologics, AccessHub and ViClarity.
Overall, programme participants benefitted from extensive media coverage and positive PR opportunities, as well as all-important peer to peer support, advice on professional services and the opportunity to build global connections with Enterprise Ireland.
There were also many individual successes arising from the programme for the startup companies. Biobind participated in the full MassChallenge Accelerator in Boston, going on to win the Innovation Award at The Ignite Showcase at University College Cork, Viclarity were successful in establishing a presence in the US and Cortechs were secured SME Instrument Phase 2 funding up to €2.5m. Of the participants, three were Category Winners at the National Start Up Awards i.e. Croivalve for Early Stage Startup, Nasal Medical for Product and Manufacturing and MyAccessHub in the Social/ Sustainable group. Two companies were awarded European funding of €50,000 through the EIT Health Headstart Funding Programme. Croivalve went on to win a Medtech Innovator Award, while Alcass Health Solutions undertook a pilot in conjunction with UCC and Cork County Council and secured European Space Agency funding.
Speaking of the success of the Accelerator Programme, Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Ian Doyle said:
“We are very proud of the work we, as a Council, do throughout Cork County. Whether it’s improving quality of life, strengthening communities or supporting businesses, we are always looking for ways to innovate for the people of Cork. These twelve businesses have shown remarkable drive and ambition in growing their ventures. I applaud them for their success to date and look forward to watching them harness the benefits of the programme in the future.”
Speaking of the awards, Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey added:
“With seven nominations and two winning entries at the 2019 Awards, Cork County Council has again proven itself as an excellent service provider for individuals, businesses and communities within its remit. Each of these twelve businesses have harnessed a unique opportunity to grow and diversify their companies, which I have no doubt will allow them to be more competitive, to grow and to create employment for the region.”
Cork County Council continued to provide follow up supports to the companies who took part in the Bridge to MassChallenge Cork competition, including supports for tradeshows and conferences, such as the Medica tradeshow in Germany in November 2018 and 2019, as well as sponsorship of the Medtech Rising Conference in Cork in December 2018. Companies were supported to attend a number of tradeshows in the United States, Finland and Ireland throughout 2018 and 2019.