Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition 2021

Date : Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition 2021


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Applications for this are closed. Thank you.


The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition, now in its 10th year, is a pre-accelerator programme designed to help Ireland’s early-stage, student entrepreneurs bring their idea from concept to pitch.

Twelve business ideas have been selected to receive mentoring and support through a series of workshops during April, May and June, with the opportunity to compete for €27,000 in prize money and other supports.

Business Plan Competition 2021 Finalists

BIONICS (Ulster University)
BIONICS has developed the world’s first biologically inspired deep tech AI surveillance system. The system delivers superior performance and speed, particularly in low light environments or with fast-moving objects, eradicating many problems currently experienced by video surveillance providers and manufacturers.

Carbon Harvesters (Nova UCD)
Carbon Harvesters is an ag-tech start-up that monitors farms’ emissions weekly. Designed to promote the implementation of economic climate mitigation strategies, and to monitize verified and certified emission reductions, it seeks to build the resilience of rural communities globally.

ECLIPSE (National University of Ireland Galway)
The ECLIPSE suture closure device is the only product to immediately and securely close any suture. This expedited wound closure reduces surgical complications and improves pets quality of life.

iBrux (University College Dublin)
iBrux is a patent-pending platform solution that measures bruxism (teeth grinding/clenching). Sensors attached to a nightguard measures the exercise in the muscle involved in bruxing which changes shape during contraction.

Inishowen Algae (Letterkenny Institute of Technology)
Inishowen Algae is an automated, software administered algae growing system. The algae grown can be used in the production of carbon-negative energy. Other market opportunities include pharmaceuticals, cosmetic, health food, biofuel and animal fodder.

Cousty (Queen’s University Belfast)
Cousty is a self-development app ‘made by students, for students’ to offer a discreet way to access counselling supports.

NanoDetect (National University of Ireland Galway)
NanoDetect Devices is bringing a novel platform diagnostic to the health care sector. With an initial focus on a diagnostic test for the detection of prostate cancer, their solution delivers detection capabilities that are 1,000+ times more sensitive than current available diagnostics.

Peckish (University College Cork)
Peckish is a SaaS-based online food marketplace for restaurants to easily manage and market the right dish to the right consumer. Their menu search engine provides consumers with tailored dish recommendations based on personal and dietary preferences enabling online ordering from the restaurant’s preferred and delivery service.

RetainerAid (Munster Technological University)
RetainerAid is a retrofitted orthodontics device that allows orthodontists to remotely measure their patient’s alignment progress, improving practice efficiency while shortening the time it takes to straighten the patient’s teeth.

Speakeasy (National University of Ireland Galway)
Speakeasy is a wellbeing-focused classroom management system that utilises a unique algorithm to identify struggling students and notify school faculty. They want to produce the happiest and highest performing students by closing the communication gap between students and teachers in secondary schools today.

STREL (Queen’s University Belfast)
STREL seeks to link the industry and the academic research communities to drive innovation and solve complex technical problems. Their platform will allow universities and research centres globally share details of available IP, and connect the right and best expert researchers with industry.

BPC finalists and their ideas 2021

Who is eligible?

The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition is open to undergraduates, post-graduates, and recent graduates (two years or less), resident in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, at pre-investment stage.

Specifically we are looking for three things:

  • An individual or a team
  • Global scalability potential
  • Categories including software, hardware, food, deep-tech, AgTech, and internationally traded services.


First Prize
€15,000 cash prize and 1-1 mentoring with Bill McKiernan, Founder of CyberSource Corporation and President of WSM Capital LLC.

Runner-up prizes
€7,000 cash prize (first runner-up)
€2,000 cash prize (second runner-up)

Mental Health Innovation Award
Kindly supported by St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPHMS).

€3,000 cash prize for the best mental health solution.


  • Wednesday, 03 February 2021
    Applications open
  • Tuesday, 16th March 2021
    Applications close at midnight

Virtual Workshop Days

These are half-days from 9.30hrs-13.00hrs online. Teams must be available to participate on all scheduled activities.

  • Workshop I: 06 April 2021
    Orientation and Introduction to The Ireland Funds
  • Workshop II: 13 April 2021
    Problem Framing
  • Workshop III: 20 April 2021
    Problem Framing Team Check
  • Workshop IV: 27 April 2021
    Customer Discovery
  • Workshop V: 04 May 2021
    Customer Discovery Team Check
  • Workshop VI: 11 May 2021
    Value Proposition and Market Sizing
  • Workshop VII: 18 May 2021
    VP & MS Team Check
  • Workshop VIII: 25 May 2021
    Pitch Preparation
  • Workshop IX: 08 June 2021
    Practice Pitch and Feedback
  • Programme showcase 15 June 2021

    Join us for virtual finale 15 June at 3pm GMT

RSVP to hbrogan@irelandfunds.org for webinar link.

About The Ireland Funds
The Ireland Funds’ mission is to harness the power of a global philanthropic network of friends of Ireland to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development across the island of Ireland and among Irish communities around the world.

Business Plan Competition Partners

St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS)

SPMHS is a leading independent, not-for-profit mental health service provider. SPMHS works to provide the highest quality mental healthcare, to promote mental wellbeing and mental health awareness, and to advocate for the rights of those experiencing mental health difficulties. This is achieved through a human rights-based approach, through the enhancement of evidence-based knowledge and by striving to be at the cutting-edge of new initiatives and advances in the field.
Visit: https://www.stpatricks.ie

Alinea is a global consultancy that partners with enterprise agencies, academic research centres, corporate and philanthropic organisations to accelerate new business opportunities through rigorous, technical pre-acceleration and acceleration programme experiences.

Guinness Enterprise Centre

The Guinness Enterprise Centre is a world-class enterprise centre for ambitious and innovative companies. They provide a modern, spacious and flexible working environment supported by best-in-class business support services. What sets the GEC apart is its rich heritage, its vibrant entrepreneurial community and a strongly influential start-up support ecosystem.

2019 Finalists

BPC 2019

2018 Finalists

BPC 2018


Megan Wilmot

Denshaw House 121-122 Baggot Street Lower Dublin 2

E - mwilmot@irelandfunds.org

Email Link

Have a Question?

Please email Programme Director Helen Fullen – bpc@irelandfunds.org


Stakeholder Launch Event
3 February 2021 – 10am GMT

Mentoring with the Master: Bill McKiernan
17 February 2021 – 4pm GMT
Watch video

Application Information Event
3 March 2021 – 5pm GMT
Watch video

Mentoring with the Master: Sarah Friar
10 March 2021 – 5pm GMT
Watch video

Programme showcase
15 June 2021

Join us for virtual finale 15 June at 3pm GMT

hbrogan@irelandfunds.org for webinar link.

Bill McKiernan

Bill McKiernan is President of WSM Capital LLC and is a San Francisco-based Board Director of The Ireland Funds America. In 2012, Bill founded The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition which today has stimulated the growth of numerous young companies and initiatives across the island of Ireland.

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