Five of Northern Ireland’s most inspiring entrepreneurial teams have each been awarded £10,000 proof-of-concept grants.

The funding comes from Techstart Ventures – through its Invest Northern Ireland fund Techstart – following their successful involvement in Catalyst’s entrepreneurship programme Co-Founders.

Co-Founders is a programme where people with passion, drive and ambition come together to create startups that could change the world, in a risk-free environment. It brings people together to establish a founder team, validate their idea, test it in the real world, develop their business know-how and ultimately understand if they have a viable potential business.

The grants received must be used to validate each business and develop the commercial potential of the innovative concepts. This year saw 19 teams graduate from the programme, with five teams each receiving £10,000 PoC grants.

WearMatter is a clothing brand for people with disabilities who have challenges accessing fashionable, functional and comfortable clothing.

Staffly is a digital platform that empowers hospital Trusts to find and hire temporary doctors, eliminating the use of expensive agencies. 

Mor aims to help people to create and sell their AI likeness for marketing videos. 

Beacon Admissions is a platform that streamlines the admissions process for both universities and international students, creating a central hub for students to upload the required documents, track the progress of their application and allowing the automation of document checking, authorisation and rejection. 

Funki Drinks Ltd provides high-fibre solutions.

TechNExt festival returns to North East this week

“We were really impressed with the range of propositions we saw through the Co-Founders programme this year, and to meet so many impressive teams,” said Kathleen Garret, head of proof-of-concept grants at Techstart Ventures. 

“The competition was very strong, and we are delighted to be able to support a number of the teams with grant funding to help take their solution to the next level. We wish all the founders every success in continuing to move forward.”

Since launching in 2017, Co-Founders has welcomed over 850 people onto the programme, with over 230 startup teams formed. A third of teams are continuing to develop their startup.

It is supported by the Department for the Economy NI.

GenAI ‘fuelling wave of entrepreneurship’