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Ireland’s Top 5 Accelerators For Startups [2023]

Are you looking for capital and/or mentorship for your startup? Ireland has some of Europe’s best startup accelerators. Beyond funding, Ireland’s accelerators also offer startups and founders incredible valuable support for product development, sales and marketing.

Whether you are looking to find a co-founder, build your MVP and/or get the seed money you need to scale up, accelerators are the way to go.

In this article we have listed our top 5 accelerator programs in Ireland. So, if you haven’t yet started to apply, here is a good place to start learning about them.

This article is part of a series where we present you the top startup incubators and accelerators across Europe. Check out our rankings for the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Austria, Spain, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland.
Looking for Ireland's top startup venture capital firms instead? Check out our ranking here.

Accelerator vs. Incubator: What’s The Difference?

Using the terms “accelerator” and “incubator” interchangeably is a common mistake. Whilst they are similar and sometimes can be found under the same roof (organisation), they are very different.

Startup Incubators

As the name suggests, startup incubators are tailored more to startups still in their incubation period for their ideas. As such, incubators help startup founders turn their ideas into early working prototype versions of a product or service.

Joining an incubator comes with many perks for early stage businesses. For example, incubators will typically let you use office spaces for twelve months, and in some cases every several years. 

Yet, not all incubators are equal. Some might be specialised on a specific industry, and others on a specific expertise: do you want to work on your Minimal Viable Product (MVP), or are you looking for help to kick-start your sales and marketing efforts?

Therefore, if you’re interested in joining an incubator program, you should first ask for feedback from founders who are currently in the program. You should find out how long they’ve been with the program and what growth they have achieved with its help. 

Incubators are designed to turn business ideas into prototypes
Incubators are designed to turn business ideas into prototypes

Startup Accelerators

In contrast, startup accelerators are ideal for startups that have already gathered some momentum. That’s why startup accelerators are best for startups with a complete cofounding team, a MVP, and that are looking to accelerate their growth (commercialise their product / service). 

Accelerator programs usually take place between a few weeks to a couple of months. In that time, they’ll give you access to their network, connections, knowledge, and a relatively small amount of funding for your startup. 

When looking for an accelerator program, it is crucial to do your research. Identify the program’s list of alumni. Who among their startups experienced success? How many failed? Who are in their list of mentors, and what accomplishments do these people have that you think would help you succeed in your business?

Taking the time to find the best-fit startup accelerator for your business is essential. After all, you’ll be trusting these people to help your business succeed. 

startup accelerator pros and cons
YC’s Demo Day

Ireland’s Top 5 Accelerators For Startups

Here’s a summary table of Ireland’s top 5 startup accelerators (in alphabetical order):

Name# startups
(to date)
Program lengthInvestment size
Cork BIC300+4 months€50,000
Dublin BIC500+Varies€270,000
(in average *)
Food Works100+10 months€35,000
NDRC50+6 months €100,000
New Frontiers500+6 – 9 monthsUp to €25,000

* Dublin BIC runs different programs each with its own selection criteria and funding terms. In average, it has helped 500+ startups raise €135 million in funding (€270,000 in average)

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1. International Security Accelerator (Cork BIC)

Cork BIC is a private organisation that supports tech and innovative companies growth in Ireland. They do so via different levers: access to angel investors, networking events, workshops and training programs.

The European Business and Innovation Centres (BIC) are regional organisations that identify promising technologies and companies they help to raise capital, arranging agreements with investors and finding customers.

Cork BIC is one of the most active BICs in Ireland. Indeed, each year they select 40 to 50 projects (either startups or corporate expansion projects). Cork BIC has reportedly helped over 500+ companies over the past 30 years.

In addition to their original mandate, Cork BIC has founded in 2019 its own startup accelerator: the International Security Accelerator.

Although the program only accepts applications from Security companies, the industries are rather broad: Cybersecurity, Internet of Things (IOT), Blockchain, AI, Health & Bioinformatics, Defence, Critical Infrastructure and Financial Services & Logistics.

As part of the 13-week program, startups benefit from unparalleled access to 400+ mentors, office space and training.

Also, companies receive €50,000 seed funding in the form of a convertible note.

2. Dublin BIC

Dublin BIC is another of Ireland’s European Business and Innovation Centres (BIC).

Like Cork BIC, its Dublin’s counterpart is very active, and one of Europe’s leading entrepreneurship hub. Indeed, Dublin BIC has helped over 500 companies raise funding through one of its programs for a total of €145 million.

Dublin BIC runs different programs, some of which are accelerator programs, for entrepreneurs at the idea stage to scale ups. The most famous programs are Dublin BIC Smart Start and Dublin BIC Innovate.

Also, each program has its own terms: investment funding (if any), benefits, duration and selection criteria. For more information, visit Dublin BIC’s website here.

3. Food Works

Founded in 2012, Food Works is Ireland’s top accelerators for startups in the food tech industry.

Although it solely focuses on food tech, Food Works is one of Ireland’s largest startup accelerators. Indeed, they have accelerated over 100 startups to date..!

As part of their 10-month program, founders €35,000 grant funding as well as access to industry-leading experts, investors and potential corporate customers.

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NDRC is arguably Ireland’s top tech startup accelerator. Indeed, each year NDRC runs a highly selective process and accept on average 13 startups to join its 6-month accelerator program.

Its program offers startups up to €100,000 funding as well as support and mentorship from their network of 40+ entrepreneurs in residence.

On top of the program and mentorship, NDRC also offers startups with 12 months of free office space and a network of 50+ co-working spaces across the globe.

5. New Frontiers

New Frontiers is one of Ireland’s top accelerators for startups. Since its inception in 2012, it has helped over 500 founders build and scale their business.

New Frontiers is also very local: they have 14 separate programs in 16 different locations across Ireland.

Its accelerator runs a 3-phase programs that lasts 6 to 9 months to test (phase 1), develop (phase 2) and implement (phase 3) an innovative business idea.

As part of the program, companies get access to mentors, perks and participate to workshops and events where they can find customers and potentially investors. Also, each business receive up to €25,000 in funding.

More Free Resources For Irish Startups

Have a look at our articles below:

Expert-built financial model templates for tech startups

📈 5-year pro forma financial model

📊 20+ charts and business valuation

📞 Free support