It’s been a topsy turvy year for Ireland’s tech sector. The island nation has enjoyed a tech boom, thanks in no small part to its wooing of several key Silicon Valley players with favorable tax structures. That has landed it on Brussels’ naughty step, though – and in December its government was forced to collect a €13 billion ($16bn) fine from Apple, without wanting to do so.
Domestically Ireland’s tech scene is thriving: this week the Bank of Ireland forecast the country’s indigenous tech industry to grow by 20% this year, reaching a value of €3.5bn ($4.3bn). Debt funding to tech firms in software, telecommunications and IT services has also leapt 150%.
The specter of Brexit continues to dog Ireland’s politics and economy, however, and recent tug-of-wars between Westminster and Brussels over the Northern Irish border could have a significant impact on Ireland’s tech sector. Yet the Bank of Ireland’s report suggested that Brexit’s effects may be overstated: the UK accounts for 20% of indigenous tech companies. That is a lot. But low enough to be absorbed by one of Europe’s brightest regional industries.
The most famous Irish entrepreneurs are surely the Collison brothers Patrick and John, whose payment service Stripe, based in San Francisco, is now worth over $9.2bn and has made both brothers, natives of Limerick, two of the world’s youngest billionaires.
But there is far more talent based on the Emerald Isle. And as the world gathers to raise a glass of Guinness and yell Slainte, Red Herring takes a look at five Irish startups making waves in the country.
2018 has already proven to be the Year Of The Cryptocurrency, with everybody from camera makers to Reddit users conjuring their own version of decentralized financial utopia. Here to make crypto easy for us all is Mingo, a Dublin-based firm that is a multichannel mobile messenger, wallet and e-games platform.
Each user is given a MingoWallet, which gamifies the crypto world and makes it easier to understand. “Mingo is first and foremost a learning platform,” writes CTO Ken Anderson. “It is the gateway app for non-crypto users to join the crypto community.”
Backed to the tune of €650m ($800m) Mingo has clearly impressed more than a few crypto-noobs. Its versatility and learning curve should ensure it stays ahead of the crowd heading past St. Pat’s into the 2018 summer.
A product of the Seedrs equity investment model, Dublin’s Flender is a peer-to-peer lending service that allows individuals and businesses to set their lending terms to an extraordinarily flexible degree. The company already has dozens of success stories to tell since its 2014 foundation – including itself, which has raised $1.5m to date.
“We’re addressing two markets across two countries with Flender: business lending and consumer lending in the UK and Ireland – an established market currently worth £2.5bn ($3.46bn) per annum,” co-founder and sales director Oli Cavanagh recently told Silicon Republic.
As Cavanagh and co win more attention for their family-and-friends lending model, expect Flender to flatter an increasing number of fintech converts soon.
Each year 357 million people are infected with one of the four major sexually transmitted diseases: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomoniasis. The fact patients must visit hospitals to get a diagnosis does little to ease that alarming figure.
Enter Sex Positive, a Cork-founded, San Francisco-based startup aiming to provide users with a $40 at-home testing kit for two of those four: chlamydia and gonorrhea. The test is complete in 30 minutes and, the company hopes, will encourage more people to get a regular checkup for issues that can cause damaging and long-lasting effects.