Ireland has some of the best incubator and accelerator programmes in Europe, but before you consider applying for one, it’s important to know the difference between the two:
Incubators are generally for new companies. They aim to nurture and support the growth of new businesses and will typically provide co-working office spaces, networking and mentoring opportunities, and sometimes seed capital in exchange for investment.
On the other side, accelerators are for businesses in the growth stage. Geared towards businesses that have promising potential to grow, accelerators provide similar mentoring and networking opportunities to incubators, but with a heavy focus on growing the business.
The equity given to investors in an accelerator programme isn’t an easy giveaway, and it usually comes with intense supervision and guidance to encourage growth. Entrepreneurs are known to be put in their paces during incubator programmes—it’s rigorous, fast-paced and intensive right from the start. After all, investors want startups to exceed.
From digital tech all the way to aviation, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best incubator and accelerator programmes in Ireland:
Top 10 incubator and accelerator programmes in Ireland
- Google Ventures
Google Ventures is one of Ireland’s leading incubator and has worked with some of the biggest brands we all know, love and use daily. Unlike most other incubator and accelerator programmes, GV invests in startups across all stages and sectors, although they do focus on enterprise, life sciences, consumer and frontier technology.
The team at GV know that it takes more than capital to scale a business—they work closely with founders to “solve tough engineering challenges, deliver product feedback, and champion the best practices in data and AI”.
They’ll also help you hire the right people, shape and build a winning marketing strategy, and to build and sustain valuable relationships.
Some of their most famous startups? Uber, Slack, Stripe and many more.
- New Frontiers
From business idea to launches startup, New Frontiers is a national programme dedicated to helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life and launch a successful startup.
Who is it perfect for?
- Entrepreneurs with an innovative business idea and can demonstrate potential
- Innovators who can show evidence of the commercial market possibilities for their service/product
- Ambitious and growth-focused founders ready to roll their sleeves up and get to work on the intensive programme
The programme offers regional access to applicants and works with startups across all sectors. Find out more details including the programme structure and past projects on the New Frontiers website.
Based in the heart of Cork, CorkBIC is a private-sector led organisation, helping entrepreneurs “navigate the minefield of raising finance, sorting out business propositions, arranging agreements with shareholders and investors, and, perhaps most important of all, finding customers”.
One of Ireland’s most experienced incubator programmes, CorkBIC has been running for 25 years, finding and launching high growth startups every year. A big focus for this incubator is helping entrepreneurs build their interdisciplinary skills to prepare them for the thorough and sometimes unforgiving world of entrepreneurship.
That means founders on this programme gain invaluable exposure to the lessons that can’t be learned from the internet or a book. CorkBIC is all about practical, hands-on training and guidance, particularly on teams, momentum, and financial mapping.
- Enterprise Ireland
Enterprise Ireland is a government organisation (or state agency) dedicated to “helping Irish companies achieve global success”.
From funding support to export assistance, Enterprise Ireland is truly focused on helping Irish companies win more international sales. They work in partnership with Irish businesses to help them launch, grow and innovate in the global market.
- Food Works
Calling all foodies! Supported by the government, Food Works Ireland is an accelerator program for Irish food and drinks businesses.
Food represents 12.3% of total export revenue in Ireland today, and with the industry estimated to be worth 19 billion euros by 2025, Food Works is dedicated to helping business owners overcame their challenges and reach success.
They’ve worked with over 80 food businesses so far, offering close mentoring, expert branding advice, research, and general guidance. Food founders can expect robust investor-ready business plan training, one-to-one business adviser sessions, international insights, industry and investor networking, grant funding, access to production expertise and lots more. Find information about costs and timelines on the Food Works website.
- Mastercard Start Path
Start Path works with the brightest later-stage startups to maximise their opportunity for success with a more than rigorous accelerator programme.
Their focus? Providing entrepreneurs with every tool they need in order to hit their goals. Whether that’s access to their network, strategic 6-month plans, initiatives or collaboration, whatever you need to succeed, Start Path will help you get it.
Typically, they look for a unique and promising concept with clear market differentiation, a diverse group of founders with strong backgrounds, raised investment, and finally, startups that align with Mastercard’s business and strategy. Sound like you? Head over to their website and find out more.
- The Yield Lab Europe
Another food-based accelerator, The Yield Lab Europe work with startups revolutionalising the agriculture and food systems to build a more sustainable food future.
Their funding is definitely on the loftier side—up to €2m per business in some cases. What makes The Yield Lab Europe so valuable to startups in the Agri-Food business is that they’re the leading funder of early-stage Agri-Food and Agri Tech businesses. For early-stage companies working on food sustainability, there really is no other programme. Meet their advisors and browse their portfolio on The Yield Lab Europe website.
With over 10 years of experience, NDRC is a leading accelerator in Ireland, building and investing in young digital startups with the potential to grow internationally.
Founders on the NDRC programme work intensively close over a short time frame under expert mentoring, networking, collaboration and strategic planning. Programmes are currently run in Dublin, Galway and Waterford—having invested in over 250 businesses, NDRC has more than what it takes to help startups reach their full potential, at home and overseas.
- Propeller Shannon
Propellor Shannon is supported by Enterprise Ireland and The Irish Aviation Authority (AIAA) and works with startup aviation companies “with a goal of producing the next generation of companies of global significance”.
Who are they looking for? Early-stage startups with disruptive tech and innovation ideas. They’re looking for startups working to solve real problems in aviation, airline, travel tech and UAV.
The 4-month accelerator programme is nothing short of intense, packed with intensive industry-leading experts, tailored curriculum and training sessions, hands-on and even remote support, connections to international aviation leaders and much more.
- Guinness Enterprise Centre
Proudly dubbed ‘Ireland’s Home For Entrepreneurs’, the GEC is the number one University Associated Business Incubator not just in Ireland, but in the world!
This programme is best-in-class for ambitions and innovative businesses. Here’s how they describe their programme:
“At the GEC you can immerse yourself in an environment of like-minded entrepreneurs; work alongside start-up business advisors and seed capital investors; access programmes, supports and knowledge geared to helping you develop your business and accelerate the process of becoming investor-ready and securing finance.”
It’s a world-class environment for entrepreneurs—fundraising help, professional networking, access to EU networks, regional and international partnerships, accelerator programmes and more are available to accepted companies. Learn the full details about their programmes here.
Innovation in Ireland: Top Incubators & Accelerators
Ireland (and Dublin in particular) is recognised for being home to some of the best and most innovative incubator and accelerator programmes and we wanted to shine a light on that achievement and pride.
These programmes do more than provide seed capital funding to startups—they provide the ideal environment for entrepreneurs to meet like-minded people and thrive with invaluable support. Do you have any others to add to the list? We’d love to know!