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Ustart 2021



Are you a student in DCU with an idea that you want to make a reality? DCU has developed an extra-curricular programme called UStart, which was the first student accelerator of its kind in Ireland. It offers students with entrepreneurial ideas the chance to set up their own enterprises. The programme offers unique education in entrepreneurship that moves outside the classroom and provides students with an opportunity to showcase their talents to a broader audience.  Students have been supported with office space in the DCU Innovation campus, financial support and mentorship from the DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurs to help them bring their business ideas to life.





Terence is the new DCU UStart & HUB Coordinator for the Campus.  Terence’s role is to unite the Entrepreneurship activities both social and commercial within the whole of the DCU Campus, so that students have a clear ‘sign post’ of where to go for support for their new and/or existing venture.  Terence has huge experience working in the Startup Ecosystem in Ireland, he has designed and run accelerator programmes for early-stage startups and over the past few years he has been Community Manager for the DCU Alpha Campus.  If you would like to ask Terence any questions about the programme starting on August 17th  or on Entrepreneurship in general; Terence will set up a Zoom call with you to discuss.


When:          Wednesdays  from  2pm – 4pm
Zoom link:



FIRESIDE CHAT Eric Clinton : Taking Over a Family Business

Eric is an Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship at DCU Business School and Director of the DCU Centre for Family Business. He received his PhD in Entrepreneurship from the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School UCD. His research interests are primarily concerned with strategic entrepreneurial practices in multi-generational family firms, focusing on how entrepreneurial and innovative mindsets within family businesses are passed from one generation to the next. In one stream of research, Eric explores how family influences entrepreneurial activity in the firm ranging from portfolio activity, communication practices, to engaging the next generation. In another stream of research, Eric investigates how past experiences in the family firm influence future strategic behavior. In particular the influence of imprinting, legacy, entrepreneurial learning and long-term strategic thinking.

Date               Wednesday 31st March 2021
More Info:



FIRESIDE CHAT Joe Cullinane The Entrepreneurial Leader:   Observations and lessons learned from working with entrepreneurs

Prof. Joe Cullinane’s focus is on strategic innovation, customer development, and entrepreneurship.  At DCU, Joe works on innovation and student entrepreneurship.  Prior to his current position, he was the CEO of Strategic Artistry,  a Silicon Valley strategy and innovation firm.  Joe is an advisor to ReBoot Career Accelerator for Woman and was a partner/board member for Silicon Valley Social Ventures (SV2).

Date:               Wednesday 24th March 2021
More Info:



Presentation – Liz Leavy,  (Self Discovery and Team Development)

Liz Leavy is Head of HR for Diebold Nixdorf Ltd Ireland. She also does coaching for Senior Management teams and plays an active role in mentoring.  She has also built a successful recruitment business increasing turnover from €1m to €15m before its sale.

Date:                Friday 12th March 2021
More Info:



Fireside Chat – Martin McMahon, (Serial Entrepreneur and Investor)

Martin is a serial entrepreneur selling 3 organisations and an angel investor. Presently he is the Founder and CEO of Accent Solutions

Date:              Wednesday 3rd March 2021
More Info:



Fireside Chat – Student Awards Talk

For this week we have 3 speakers discussing the three difference awards that students of DCU can apply for. These include the

Enterprise Ireland Students Awards with Carol Dillon
The DCU President’s Awards for Innovation with Maria Johnston
The DCU President’s Award for Engagement (Natalji Matease)

Topics such as , times and dates, past projects and application requirements are discussed.

Date:               Wednesday 24th February 2021
More Info:



Fireside Chat – Stephen Daniels, Founder & CTO of Nuwave Ventures

Stephen Daniels Founder & CTO, NuWave Ventures: Nuwave Ventures has sold several thousand products and Stephen will discuss the ups and down from a research and development point of view.

Date:             Wednesday 17th February 2021
More Info:    Press here for Eventbrite page



Fireside Chat – Rónán Ó Dálaigh, Founder of Thriftify

Rónán Ó Dálaigh who studied BA Gnó & Gaeilge in 2014 at DCU and is Founder of Thriftify Social Enterprise and recently closed an investment round of recently raised €500K will open up about his journey and experiences.

Date:            Wednesday 10th February 2021
More Info:   Press here for Eventbrite page




“Ustart was a wonderful programme for our startup. I felt it afforded us the opportunity to mature as founders with the help of some fantastic advice. Over the course of the summer we received phenomenal mentorship, grew our network and grew as a company. I’d highly recommend Ustart to any young founder looking to get into entrepreneurship.”

Adam Dalton,
Co-Founder & CEO,



“Ustart was the best thing we ever did. It taught us all the basics of setting up a start-up up to the more advanced stuff. We would highly recommend the excellent team there, they are there for you every step along the way, no matter where you are on your start-up journey.”
Róisín Madden,
C0-Founder and CEO,
Airmeda Ltd,
Law and Governance Student.




Engineering Society

Esoc (The Entreprise Society)

Enactus Society

DCU Law Society

DCU Politics Society

DCU Ryan Academy

National Centre for Family Business



For any questions  in relation to growing your own business/any entrepreneurial activity in DCU please reach out to;

Terence Bowden
DCU Ryan Academy

Youtube Channel








By signing up for any of the above events you are giving your consent to be added to the UStart email list. If you wish to be removed please email

Lighthouse Programme, last 3 Deep Dive Weeks

1.  Startup Lighthouse Deep Dive Week Lisbon

15 startups descended on Lisbon from the 13th to the 18 thof May for a Deep Dive Week focused on Smart Cities. Representing 11 countries, the startups met with investors, corporates, incubators,
coworking spaces, had a pitching workshop and pitched twice. Companies present were helping to monitor air quality, make solar energy more available, allowing customers to choose from where
their energy was derived amongst others. The two Irish companies present were Péarlaí and ThinkSmarter, two companies tackling the footfall and demographic insight space from two different angles.

2. Startup Lighthouse Deep Dive Week Berlin 

Deep Dive Week Future Mobility took place in Berlin May 20th to 23nd, one of Europe’s biggest startup ecosystems. The startups met the main players of the German mobility ecosystem, validating their technology and business solutions with corporate partners and generating leads from the major industry companies. Ireland was represented by – a tool to conduct surveys focused on a map and is geared for fast responses and the data can be licensed flexibly.
Over the past few years, over 50 corporate accelerators and other special programmes, such as Lufthansa, Deutsche Bahn, Volkswagen, Daimler, E.ON and Bosch have moved their innovation hubs to Berlin and stimulate innovation in the mobility sector.

3. Startup Lighthouse Deep Dive Week Baltics

The final Deep Dive Week Baltics took place last week from the 25th to the 31st of May in Vilnius, Lithuania for a low level exploration of the local fintech landscape. Exploring this rapidly growing ecosystem were 19 companies from 9 different countries, Ireland was represented by 4Securitas and NAVchain. Highlights of the week included meeting the Bank of Lithuania, SEB Group and a talk from Elijus Čivilis, the Lithuanian Vice-Minister for Economy and Innovation.  From the Ryan Academy’s perspective, a final group discussion with different ecosystem builders from around Europe was particularly insightful.

Learn more about Startup Lighthouse here.

Summer Camp for Second Level Students – Ireland’s Future Entrepreneurs

DCU Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation Summer Camp for Second Level Students took place from 27th to 31st May inclusive in the Lego Education Institute in St Patrick’s Campus.  30 students from 11 schools in Dublin’s Northside, having completed their Transition year were recruited to participate in the Summer Camp.

The programme focused around the following three themes:

1. Building ‘Creative Confidence’ through
– Understanding what Innovation means
– Introduction to ‘Design Thinking’
– Developing a working prototype ‘Minimal Viable Product’ through the ‘Lego Challenge’

2. Developing participants’ ‘Entrepreneurial Thinking’ through:
– Learning how to use the ‘Business Model Canvas’
– Learning about ‘Customer Validation’
– Understanding the other basics of starting a business

3. Developing ‘Leadership Skills’ through
– Working in groups with other students
– Developing presentation skills and delivering a business ‘pitch’ to an external panel of judges

After four days of workshops and prototype building, the students who had been divided into 5 teams delivered presentations on their business product/service and a demo of their prototype to an external panel, who were super impressed at how fast they grasped the concept of building a business and designing prototypes.  The product prototypes were based on five ‘LEGO Mindstorms EV3’ projects.The Lego Camp is funded by the HEA (High Education Authority) and delivered by DCU Ryan Academy and DCU St Patrick’s Lego Education Institute. We look forward to working with the 2020 Lego Camp participants.

Female High Flier Finalé Cycle 8 – 2018

On Tuesday 18th December 2018 our final event  Female High Fliers “finalé” Investor Showcase Day took place in DCU Ryan Academy in Citywest. Our 10 amazing Female High Fliers companies presented their final ‘investor’ pitches, followed by lunch and a ‘Meet the Founder’ Networking session.

Our audience participated at the event by choosing (1) The Best Pitch on the day and (2) The Most Investible Startup from Cycle 8.  To view the profiles of our 2018 Cycle 8, Female High Fliers:  CLICK HERE.

High Fliers is funded by Enterprise Ireland

Migrant Women Showcase Huge Variety of Start-ups in Dublin

Today – Thursday (29.11.18) – an inspiring group of migrant women entrepreneurs showcase their start-up businesses in Dublin city centre.  Broadcaster and businesswoman Norah Casey, Áine Mulloy of GirlCrew, and social entrepreneur Deborah Somorin will speak at the event.

The featured businesses range from artisan vegan cheese production to pharmaceuticals, pet hostels and tech solutions. The entrepreneurs – originally from Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Russia, China, the Philippines, Mauritius, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico – recently graduated from a tailored entrepreneurship programme run by DCU Ryan Academy in partnership with the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI).

Aoife Smith of MRCI said, “Migrant women entrepreneurs face huge barriers in Ireland, from restrictive immigration rules, the lack of access to Irish business networks to racism and discrimination.  For almost two decades, MRCI has been working with migrant women, many of whom ran successful businesses before coming to Ireland, but ended up on low paid employment here.”

Smith continued, “This unique project is about recognising their energy, creativity and talent.  It is about nurturing migrant women’s entrepreneurial drive and supporting their start up journey so they can focus on growing their businesses in Ireland.”

Niamh Collins of the DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship said, “We have built up a strong reputation in running accelerator courses for female start-ups. When approached by MRCI, we were delighted to design a programme for twenty five Migrant Women Entrepreneurs.  The Academy designed this first of its kind programme to enhance their business and leadership skills, and to create a new network of like-minded female founders.”

Course participant Katja Rybakova, founder of NetTest – helping pharmaceutical companies choose better drug targets – said, “My background is in science. I had only the vaguest of idea of how to create and run a businesses. The course mentors provided great guidance on every aspect of a running a business – from financial planning to sales and marketing. I’ve now been able to successfully test the viability of my business idea and create a realistic business plan. It was inspiring to study alongside so many amazing women and share their passion for entrepreneurship.”



Show case participates available for interview

The event will be held today at 6pm – 9pm, Huckletree D2, 42 Pearse Street, Dublin 2, with colourful showcase of start-ups from migrant women entrepreneurs in Ireland – from pet hostels to tech solutions and from vegan cheese to pharmaceuticals.

 The featured start-up founders are all graduates of a tailored entrepreneurship programme for migrant women, the first of its kind in Ireland, run by the DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurs in partnership with Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI).

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland is a national organisation working to promote justice, empowerment and equality for migrants and their families

DCU Ryan Academy was set up in 2005 by the late Dr Tony Ryan (founder of Ryanair) with the aim of helping entrepreneurs at the start-up stage to plan their business ambition.

This project is part supported by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund (ESF) 2014-2020 as part of the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020.



DCU Ryan Academy tackling challenges facing female-led start-ups

Access to funding and finance, confidence, technical skills and building sales strategies have all been cited as significant challenges for female-led start-ups who want to bring their business to the next level.

The DCU Ryan Academy, supported by Enterprise Ireland, is aiming to help ten female-led start-ups break through these barriers by providing an intensive 13-week business development, leadership and mentoring programme at its Citywest campus.

The Female High Fliers (FHF) programme has already supported over 75 start-ups since its inception in 2014 and is now inviting applications from female-led businesses to take part in the next cycle of the programme, commencing this September.

Applications are sought from start-ups less than five years old, who have the potential to generate over €1m in sales and create up to 10 jobs in less than four years.

Successful candidates will avail of access to a peer start-up founder network and to the DCU Ryan Academy network of experienced entrepreneurs and investors. They will take part in weekly tailored workshops and will be involved in the development and presentation of business plans as well as pitching to potential investors.

A survey of recent graduates of the Female High Fliers programme found that:

  • 54% of companies who were mentored on FHF indicated a growth in turnover
  • 64% increased their staff numbers
  • Market focus shifted from 34% to 57% export focus
  • 77% highlighted that they were now more confident in a business environment
  • 92% were more confident seeking finance and investment
  • 46% expressed an advancement of their technical skills

Niamh Collins, FHF Programme Director & DCU Ryan Academy Chief Operations Officer said;

“The Female High Fliers programme, with the support of Enterprise Ireland, was established to respond to the challenges facing female-led start-ups. We are pleased to have helped accelerate the growth of over 75 start-ups since 2014. However, challenges remain in tackling issues such as access to finance, developing the necessary technical skills, and showcasing the business with confidence.

The FHF programme is a crucial component in assisting the growth of female-led businesses across Ireland which are contributing enormously to the Irish economy. In 2017, 35% of all high-potential start-ups (HPSUs) backed by Enterprise Ireland, were women-led, a huge increase from 7% in 2011. There are fantastic opportunities for successful applicants to the programme and I encourage interested parties to submit before the closing date of September 4th.”

For further details, go to


About the Ryan Academy

Dublin City University is Ireland’s university of Transformation and Enterprise and the DCU Ryan Academy is a leader in entrepreneurial and innovation practice. The mission of the Ryan Academy is to promote and accelerate early stage entrepreneurship in Ireland through leading entrepreneur and start-up programmes and through events and activities which support broader entrepreneur and start-up ecosystem development.


Startup Digest – Dublin – Resources for the holidays

 Startup Digest – Dublin – Resources for the holidays
Startup Digest Dublin is a great resource for the Dublin startup ecosystem and this week they have shared useful links to resources for the holidays.
To signup to Startup Digest Dublin, click here:
Resources for the holidays –
Dublin Startup Digest – Weekly Newsletter – schedule of everything that’s happening in Dublin, opportunities coming up.
Techstars Communities – A snapshot of the startup ecosystem as captured by Techstars.
Dublin Globe – News website about startups and tech; started by the Dublin Startup Commissioner. Sign up to the weekly newsletter.
Tech Life Ireland – Website created by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland promoting Ireland as a place to work in tech. Handy platform to use when recruiting.
Fora – Website with topical news including about startups, business, tech. Sign up to the weekly newsletter.
TechIreland – Database of all the startups in Ireland, led by Niamh Bushnell former Startup Commissioner. Sign up to receive the weekly blog.
IrishTechCommunity Slack Channel – A group of friendly folks in the Irish Tech Community that hangout at Many channels devoted to multiple subjects, from design and development of tech, to conferences and diversity.
Frontline Ventures – Sign up for the quarterly newsletter here; and Check out all the resources in their library here – all worth a read.
Irish Tech Ecosystem Review 2016 – review of the Irish Tech Ecosystem in 2016. coworking review – List of coworking spaces in Ireland
Dublin Guide to hotdesking – Dublin Guide to hotdesking by Matt Cortland, previous Startup Digest Curator.
Cafe Guide – The Globe’s 11 Great Dublin Cafés (With Decent Wi-Fi) – published May 2015. Might need a new edition!
And a blast from the past, but well worth the watch – Paul Hayes Top 10 Guerilla Marketing on a ShoeString for Startups from Web Summit circa 2009. As commenter says “An Oldie, but a Goodie !”

Check out the calendar for the FULL LIST of events.

Start up Dublin Digest is curated by:
Liz McCarthy
Contact Liz McCarthy at

Stacey Connolly – Senior Account Executive @ Beachhut PR

Contact Stacey Connolly at

Follow @LizMacKerry and @StaceyConnolly

Migrants Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) article – the Sunday Times



An article by Sandra O’Connell was published recently in the Sunday Times around the topic of Migrant Entrepreneurship. The article mentions the link between Migrant Entrepreneurship and the DCU Ryan Academy who are running a programme at the beginning of next year centered around this topic.

If you would like to read the article, please Click Here (please note a subscription is needed)

Also, for more details on the Migrant Women’s Entrepreneurship programme run by the DCU Ryan Academy, please visit our site




Female High Fliers Featured on Today FM


Applications for 2018 are already open!

Dublin City University’s Female High Fliers accelerator is a prestigious 13-week programme supporting Ireland’s most promising female-led startups. The programme is run by the DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurs who are already taking applications for 2018. Programme Director and COO of the DCU Ryan Academy, Niamh Collins joined Conall in the studio to discuss the programme. She was also joined Ciara Garvin, Founder of Workjuggle and Graduate of the High Fliers.

The tailored course is supported by Enterprise Ireland and attracts on average 130 high caliber female entrepreneurs every year.

Female Entrepreneurs can register for the 2018 programme via the following link:

To Listen to Niamh’s interview on the Today FM’s Sunday Business Show: Click Here

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