Entrepreneurial Spark marks first anniversary in Belfast

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    • £24,000 provided to entrepreneurs as part of award event
    • £550,000 secured in investment by entrepreneurs at the hub in December alone

    A local business accelerator has provided a substantial boost to Northern Ireland’s entrepreneurial environment in its first year of operation.

    Indeed, entrepreneurs at the Entrepreneurial Spark hub - powered by Ulster Bank – took in over £550,000 in investment during December 2016 alone.

    Part of the world’s largest free business accelerator for early stage and growing ventures, the hub in Belfast has provided significant opportunities to almost 160 early stage and scale-up businesses in its first year of operation, having supported two intakes of entrepreneurs to date.

    Entrepreneurs, ranging from those just starting out to those scaling up their business, have based themselves at the hub in fields as diverse as technology, food and drink, and product design.

    Marking the first anniversary of Entrepreneurial Spark in Belfast, Entrepreneurs were provided with awards for their achievements, with £24,000 available in prizes.

    Speaking at the ‘Entrepreneuring Awards’, hosted in the Hub on Lombard Street, Ulster Bank’s Entrepreneur Development Manager Lynsey Cunningham stressed the need for broad support for Northern Ireland’s entrepreneurs.

    She said: “We produce world-class innovators and ideas in fields such as pharmaceuticals, financial technology, and manufacturing. As such, our entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses deserve a business culture that rewards and celebrates their success, and we are determined to play our part in creating that.

    “Part of our ambition is to lower the barriers to entrepreneurship – both real and perceived – and awards like this are a good way of showing that we have ‘skin in the game’ and we mean what we say when it comes to backing new businesses. ”

    The £24,000 in prizes were distributed to entrepreneurs in categories rewarding their business acumen, professional development and collaboration with others taking part in the programme.

    The main award of the evening, Entrepreneur of the Moment, was awarded to Niall Carlin, founder of DoubleJump, alongside a cash prize of £7,000 to help take his business to the next level.

    Doublejump Studios is a start-up content creation company based in Belfast that produces short videos to promote businesses and engage audiences.

    Niall Carlin said: “I joined Entrepreneurial Spark in February of last year and the business has just taken off since. It has grown from just myself to a team of four and we are still growing. Entrepreneurial Spark has been fantastic for me; I’ve had mentoring from some of the best people in the industry, I’ve also been coached to have a better mind-set that embraces risk and is able to take business decisions. The sense of community has also been fantastic. It would certainly have been a much more difficult journey without Entrepreneurial Spark and I’m very grateful for the opportunity and the support.”

    Entrepreneurial Spark co-founder and Chief Entrepreneuring Officer Lucy-Rose Walker said: “Congratulations to all our Belfast winners, it’s fantastic to see a continuous stream of enthusiasm and dedication from our entrepreneurs”.

    “Our Entrepreneuring Awards are designed to recognise start-ups that have embraced the #GoDo mindset to make significant progress within the first six months in the Belfast Hub. It’s an opportunity to celebrate their entrepreneurial journey and provide a benchmark for future development and business growth”.

    The next intake for the Belfast Entrepreneurial Spark Hub will be announced in February, featuring new and scale-up businesses from the fields including medical technology, entertainment and sport. 

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