Sunday, 27 November 2016

€150,000 prize fund awarded to two winning companies

Dublin biotech company, Valitacell, was crowned the overall winner of the 14th annual InterTradeIreland Seedcorn competition which is the island’s biggest business competition for new start and early stage companies. Valitacell won a cash prize of €100,000 at the grand final held at The Waterfront Hall in Belfast last night. The other main winner on the night was Dundalk based Gecko Governance who won the Best Early Stage CompanyCategory award and a cash prize of €50,000. The winners were announced at the grand final of the competition which was attended by the Northern Ireland Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton, MLA.

This year’s competition generated a lot of interest and attracted over 300 applications from new start and early stage companies from across the island from sectors such as Pharma, ICT, Energy, Software/Apps, Biometrics and even waste management.

Valitacell based in Pembroke Street and with its lab in the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training, Blackrock provides analytical support for the biopharmaceutical sector. It helps companies to improve the efficiency and performance of a cell development process that is crucial in the manufacture of monoclonal antibody drugs. These products are accelerating the delivery of high-tech, expensive modern drugs to patients who need them but currently do not have access to them.

Dr Terry McWade, CEO of Valitacell said; “I am absolutely delighted to win the overall award at the IntertradeIreland Seedcorn 2016 national final. This competition has taught the whole team a lot and allowed us to refine many aspects of our business. We developed an improved business plan that helped us to refine our message and strategy for investors. The emphasis that we have put on communications and messaging means we can make our offering more understood to businesses and customers that do not have a technical or scientific background. The €100,000 cash prize will allow us to develop a targeted sales and marketing strategy which will focus on market engagement and securing new customers.”

Dundalk based Gecko Governance makes regulation technology for the global finance industry that allows fund managers to monitor and manage their regulation and compliance requirements. Gecko Governance allows for greater strategy potential and corporate planning by providing fund managers with a live oversight of all the funds regulation and compliance requirements – which funds are on schedule and which are behind, which compliance tasks are outstanding and which have been completed.

Shane Brett, Founder and CEO of Gecko Governance, said; “We are delighted to win best Early Stage company category and the €50,000 cash prize. We will use the prize money to accelerate our expansion plans – specifically in rolling out our London office later this year. The Seedcorn process helped us build our business plan which was a lot of work but very rewarding in terms of ending with an investor ready business plan in great shape. The level of detailed business plan feedback really helped us bring the plan to the next level. We have learned the importance of providing investors with a properly structured and articulated business plan with clear credible goals and realistic assumptions of our future business strategy. We will use the prize money to accelerate our expansion plans – specifically in rolling out our London office later this year.”

Speaking at the final, Thomas Hunter McGowan, CEO, InterTradeIreland said:“The Seedcorn competition is all about supporting and promoting the growth of new start companies on the island of Ireland. These companies are vital for stimulating growth in the economy, not only by creating jobs but also for developing new and innovative solutions to everyday problems and improving people’s lives across the world. These companies need nurturing from an early stage and need access to the support that will allow them to build on their success. InterTradeIreland is proud of our work with these companies and we will continue to support them through our Funding for Growth initiatives. ”

“I wish the heartiest of congratulations to both Valitacell and Gecko Governance for having come through this challenging process. On behalf of myself and the team at InterTradeIreland I wish them the very best in the years ahead. I am sure they will continue to grow and become great successes.”

The competition is aimed at companies who have a new equity funding requirement and has a total cash prize fund of €280,000, with no equity stake. Since it started in 2003, the 2,151 companies that have gone through the competition have raised in excess of €220m - last year alone, in excess of €10m was raised.