Current State of the European Tech Start-Up Ecosystem

slush is a two-day international startup and investor event, organized annually in helsinki in november. as part of the event the organisers work together with atomico , an international technology investment firm, to publish a detailed analysis of the state of play in the european tech ecosystem.   

It is a well known fault of human nature that when looking at a a photograph of people we always look for ourselves first. So naturally we wanted to review this report and see how Ireland fares . After all the thesis that Ireland is an importnat European Tech Start-up Hub is well documented. So always good to challenge this thesis through analysis of some real data sourced by an independent party. 


While Ireland doesn't appear in the a list of top computer science academic institutions,. Dublin does appear at number 10 in a nice diagram of tech clusters based on number of developers (Source : Stackoverflow) . Dublin has with 45k software developers of which 28k are full stack developers. Not bad especially if you weight this as % of city population. 


Take Away 1: Dublin #10 city in Europe for absolute number of Developers

In the very next  page Ireland features on top in  LinkedIn analysis of the  growth of tech jobs in Europe. 

Take Away 2: According to LinkedIn Ireland has the fastest growth in tech jobs in 2016 with a rate of  5.5%   

Skip two pages to an analysis of countries as a source of "mobile tech talent" and Ireland appears in seventh place. The UK is a clear leader as a source of intra European tech migrants 

Take away 3: Ireland is #7 source of "mobile" tech talent providing 4% of intra-EuropeAn tech migrants. 

A very interesting metric deployed by the researchers is the number of persons attending Tech meetups in a given city. Here according to Dublin ranks in 8th place with 32,000 people attending meetups in the first 3 quarters of 2016. This is in fact a 60% growth rate on the preceding full year. Again the figures are absolute and not adjusted by population.

Take away 4: In absolute terms Dublin  has  8th largest number of people attending tech meetups in Europe

The next section of the report deals with investment and capital flows. Ireland doesn't feature as an entity as the larger economies dominate. However another analysis by Techstars in Berlin does show that Dublin is at par with Barcelona  and Stockholm for number of active VCs in operation.

Following this the report looks at Deep Tech obviously of particular importance to Universities as research institutions . They analyse investment data from using keywords such as AI, VR, AR, machine learning, IOT, space etc.  Ireland features with 151 deep tech investments over the last 5 years which is more than Norway and Finland to name a few.

Take away 5: Ireland is ranked 6th in Europe in Deep Tech investment


Worryingly however Ireland is not listed in figures showing  the 15 Artificial Intelligence clusters in Europe. Also of concern is that Ireland not listed as a hub in Augmented or Virtual Reality.

Take away 6: Ireland does not feature as a hub or cluster in AI, VR or AR.

In conclusion , adjusting for population Ireland is truly punching above its weight and a key player  in many areas of the  European tech Startup Echo system. However in areas including  capital inflows, engagement with large multinationals and some key deep tech sectors we can not afford to be left behind.

John Whelan


Climate Launchpad European Finals – Small Farms – Éire Smith

Over the course of our engagement with Blackstone LaunchPad and then LaunchBox this summer, Johnathon and I took part in Climate Launchpad, Europe’s largest cleantech business idea competition, with our startup Small Farms.

Climate Launchpad aims to help kick-start businesses that address the issue of climate change in an innovative way. The programme consisted of a two-day ‘bootcamp’ in May, and weekly training sessions throughout the summer to mentor participants on developing their value proposition, business model and pitch. Our mentor was Ron Immink, entrepreneur-in-residence of Sustainable Nation Ireland, a non-profit organisation whose aim is to support and develop business ideas that will successfully transition Ireland to a low-carbon economy.

Participating in Blackstone LaunchPad and then LaunchBox meant that we were constantly practicing and improving our pitch, while continually refining our idea. Our hard work lead us to the national finals, where three teams would be chosen to represent Ireland at the Climate Launchpad European Finals in Tallinn, Estonia. Our pitch took place in front of a panel of judges, with 5 minutes given for the pitch and 3 minutes of questions. We were successful at the national finals and won a place on the trip to Estonia!


The European finals took place over two days in Tallinn, where ninety different teams from thirty countries across Europe had the chance to pitch their ideas to a wider audience. A number of talks also took place across the two days on subjects relating to carbon emissions, startup formation and business plan development. Although we didn’t make it into the grande finale, I was delighted to be able to compete against other high-quality startups in the cleantech area. Some of the winning startups included Gleather, who produce a gelatin-based leather-like material to replace traditional toxin-intensive leather production; and Sponge, a product that can be used to prevent oil spills and absorb contaminants from the ocean. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the cleantech sector and to discover other startups in the area. The top startups at the finals each won a place on the first stage of Climate KIC’s accelerator programme in their respective regions. Climate KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) is an initiative by the European Union which aims to create sustainable economic growth in Europe.

Overall, Climate Launchpad was an excellent programme to take part in and complemented nicely all that we learned at Blackstone LaunchPad at Trinity. Our pitching improved thanks to all the guidance and coaching we received, and discussing Small Farms with others in the cleantech sector was an invaluable opportunity.


Eoin O’Neill, a 3rd year Computer Science student, and current Blackstone Rep, was selected to represent Ireland on the Worldwide stage at the Enactus World Cup to speak about a global goal he is passionate about, Zero Hunger. Eoin was sponsored by Blackstone LaunchPad at Trinity College Dublin to attend

Last week in Toronto I was lucky enough to experience one of the most eye opening experiences of my time as a student; the experience of attending the Enactus World Cup in Toronto, Canada. I was lucky enough to receive sponsorship for the trip from KPMG, Trinity College Dublin Business School and Blackstone Launchpad at Trinity College Dublin. Having previously only attended National Competitions, I could not prepare myself for being a witness to a showcase for some of the smartest and most caring students to use their talents to create sustainable projects which empower the needy through entrepreneurial action.

Every team’s projects at the competition were created with a useful guideline in mind: the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 goals set by the UN to be completed by the year 2030 to ensure progress across a range of issues across the world. I was lucky enough to find out that I had been selected to represent Ireland as an SDG Ambassador for Goal 2 of the SDGs: Zero Hunger. This goal is held closely to my heart; there should be no reason why anyone young or old should be hungry or undernourished.

As an SDG Ambassador, I would have the opportunity to be the representative for Goal 2 at the World Cup, taking part in Ideation sessions and somewhat more frighteningly, the Global Goals forum, a discussion between each SDG ambassador on the goals which would not only be watched by everyone attending the competition but to thousands via an online stream. I didn’t really know quite what to expect. What I did know was that this would be the biggest audience I had ever spoken to and would likely be one of the scariest experiences of my life. I was excited.

The ideation sessions were interesting. A room in the Toronto Metro Convention Centre was set up for us with 17 round tables arranged for each SDG ambassador. Attendees of the sessions were to sit with the SDG table of their choice which they were most interested in being part of a discussion for, a discussion which I would moderate. The aim was for each member to leave the discussion with three pieces of knowledge: 1) What actions was each person at the table currently doing with their Enactus team to tackle the issue of zero hunger, 2) what actions would each attendee take over the next year to achieve zero hunger and 3) what actions could we all take to achieve zero hunger. I loved these discussions. It was wonderful to share a table with so many cultures, each with their own perspective. Many nuggets of information were shared from everyone. One such that stood out was the idea that these actions each of us can take in achieving an SDG doesn’t have to be something big. One attendee shared her story of how after their events, her own Enactus team would redistribute any leftover food to the homeless in the local community, a simple action that anyone can do that makes a difference to their lives.

After such an amazing session, the fear started to creep up on me. The forum was on in just a few hours. Those few hours went by far too quickly and before I knew it, I was on stage with the other ambassadors sharing my thoughts on achieving zero hunger with thousands.

I’m extremely grateful to Enactus for providing me with such an amazing opportunity, an organisation I’ve found since joining not only strives to help those who need it the most, but team members like myself who just wanted to join an amazing journey in which business is used to do good things. I can’t say enough good things about the organisation and if anything, I hope those of you reading who might not be involved to see how Enactus offers great opportunity to all (#WeAllWin) and that you might consider becoming a part of this wonderful journey.’


Six things *WE* learned from Student Startups

A key philosophy of Blackstone LaunchPad at Trinity is that it is not an educational course but instead aims to steer student stratup towards success through mentorship and general guidance.  In many ways the most valauable assistance we provide is an introduction into the Trinity and Blackstone networks. It is all about empowering startups to think for themselves. 

There are many reasons for this approach including the fact that the startups are in different sectors and at different stages of growth. It would be impossible to run a structured course programme that would match the needs of each entrepreneur.   Another very important reason is that the start up space  is evolving so quickly  that it is impossible to keep up with best practice in technology and disruptive business models. Student startups are at the forefront of the latest disruptive trends in technology and value creation for customers.

This is often driven by necessity as the tools are not always easily available to them and certainly resources are very limited.  Such necessity and urgency is good as it drives creativity and disruption. Fortunately LaunchPad and LaunchBox can curate this valuable knowledge and share it back to the startups in our network. 

 In fact in our experience as implementors of student supports in Trinity  we are often just the information distributor or broker by making valuable community knowledge available to any student interested in entrepreneurship in Trinity. 

To illustrate this let's look at some real and useful stuff we learnt this year:

1. Snapchat is REALLY important for marketing and Social Media engagement

Facebook is good, Twitter is ineffective  and LinkedIn is expensive. For X and Z generation SM marketeers,  Snapchat is the new king. It was students who told us first about Gary Vaynerchuk Snapchat guru before he visited Dublin earlier this year. Nobody really knows (including Snapchat themselves) how Snapchat will evolve as a paid marketing tool but our students will be first to know of the new developments as they are often in contact with Snapchat in London on several occasions. 


2. Digital Ocean

Cloud infrastructure  provision is a competitive area .As outlined above university startups need a cost effective solution that provides great customer service. That is why they evangelize about Digital Ocean as an alternative new provider that is nipping at the heels of the big incumbents. 

3. Ownership is so 2016

Young entrepreneurs are very concerned about preserving the environment for future generations . So much so that so that even the traditional concept of ownership is being disrupted with key trends such as the sharing economy and of course sustainable products. One student designing a recyclable backpack put it like this recently: "You don't own what you buy you just borrow from the environment and return it when you are done". 

4. Email is dead. Long live email

It is impossible to reach Generation X'ers through email in any reliable way. They are not weighed down with a culture of aiming for a clean zero inbox , that some of us once had .  They do not feel any compulsion to read email regularly and respond ever. Get over it it is just a fact.  So MailChimp look out . The ideas behind "4 hour working week" are very popular with this year's batch of startups.


5. Don't shake hands

While in business meetings it is still of course normal practice to shake hands the Fist Bump is a real thing and not going away. Also of course it will save us from the next pandemic which is useful. Seriously.

6. Prezi is over

This year we noticed less Prezi use in pitches than we would have had in previous years. I am still a fan if used correctly, but Powerpoint has improved a lot. Students are great at creating their own pitch slidedecks as there lots of great templates are out there. Also usage of cool tools such as  Emaze and tweak is growing.





First Week at DoSpace


LaunchBox taught us so much so quickly and it was fantastic being around companies all at the same stage as us. We all helped each other when we could and it was fantastic to be able to bounce ideas off like minded individuals. Our first week in DoSpace provided different and exciting new challenges. All the other companies are at a later stage than us, so it’s fantastic to learn from them about the challenges we are going to face next - from raising money to scaling successfully.

We’ve also had to mature a lot as a company. No longer having a fixed source of income, we’ve had to make sure our operations and sales strategies are as efficient as possible so that we can start generating revenue and turning this from just an idea and a game into a business. We’ve had to swiftly learn a lot about processes we’ve had very little experience with in the past such as incorporation, company structure, shareholders agreements and tax.

There’s a great atmosphere in general in the DoSpace and the people are friendly - it’s been easy for us to fit in. The facilities here are fantastic and the location is ideal. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks for us, from finishing up LaunchBox to moving into our new space. We’ve constantly been meeting new people, trying to develop and improve our game, as well as develop it into a business, but it’s been exciting, fulfilling and rewarding throughout.

We’re confident as a team that we now have the perfect platform upon which to build on, and we’re determined and driven to make MatchDay the success it has the potential to be



Intern Position with Blackstone LaunchPad at Trinity

Ambassador Intern Position with Blackstone LaunchPad at Trinity. 

Application Deadline: September 4th (midnight).

Blackstone LaunchPad at Trinity are looking to hire student interns for semester and yearly work. This position will be on a semester by semester basis throughout the academic year (mid-September to May) and on a part time basis with Blackstone LaunchPad.

What is Blackstone LaunchPad at Trinity?

At Blackstone LaunchPad we introduce, support and facilitate entrepreneurship on campus as a viable career path, support venture creation and develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets. Visit or check out our websites: LaunchPad: and LaunchBox: for more information.

Role and responsibilities?

  • Aid day-to-day operations of LaunchPad events and workshops, hackathons, startup bootcamps, guest speakers and mentors.
  • Brand Ambassador: build awareness of the LaunchPad program (and LaunchBox program) by doing regular shoutouts before lectures in your respective lectures and classes.
  • Event management: helping out with events, setting up and ordering catering, tidying up after, manning AV during events etc.
  • Participate and coordinate with student engagement, marketing campaigns, social media, newsletter, content creation and blogging.
  • Help with admin, expenses or small amounts of paper work. Contribute if required on specific tasks like the LaunchBox applications and LaunchPad Stewardship Council, writing of minutes or meeting room preparation.


  • Strong verbal and written communication skills. 
  • Excellent organisational skills and a good team player that can also work independently.
  • Experience with design, social media platforms, web tools and social media management applications a big plus.
  • An interest in entrepreneurship, startup, social enterprise, social media, marketing or journalism is desirable.

Hours and compensation?


As this is a part-time role it really depends both on your availability and our need any given week. We aim to run at least three events per week in the LaunchPad Space. Busier times of year, like Freshers’ Week, and the LaunchBox pitch stages, will require more help than usual. We generally pay our student members €10 per hour for their work with us.

How to apply?

Please send your CV to both Stu Fergus (sfergus at tcd dot ie) and Alison Treacy (alison dot treacy at tcd dot ie) and cc (launchpad at tcd dot ie). We will be in touch upon your application. Interviews Wednesday the 8th Sept.

LaunchBox halfway point: Volatile

“The LaunchBox experience has been interesting. Myself and my Business Partner have had a lot of laughs. It doesn't differ from my expectation all that much, I was aware what type of programme this was shortly after being offered a place. I will say that it is a very worthwhile experience. It has been thoroughly rewarding, and at times frustrating, to have the time and space to work on our own idea and attempt to grow it. This has been a success in itself for me; being able to work on my own project, and learning the amount of work that goes into making something of quality.

One piece of advice I would give is keep your mind open.

5 words: I've uttered 'Volatile' a lot.”

-       Shane Costello: Volatile/CostelloKeeganDesign

LaunchBox halfway point: SurfBuoy

“At the midpoint of the LaunchBox program, Surfbuoy has come a long way, although not exactly as we expected. At the outset of LaunchBox we were very focused on product development, the nuts and bolts of how our device worked and what features could improve it. However, we had greatly underestimated the importance of customer development and market research. In the early weeks of LaunchBox, we went back to customer development and the results of our research completely changed our perception of the market. Overall, it felt as if we had tried to skip a step. Now that this groundwork is in place, we feel much more confident in our identity as a company.

From talking to people even as early as the first day, it became clear that there was a genuine interest in our product. We could see this from conversations with watersports organisations, as well as casual conversations with people on the street. However, the people who were most interested were not always those that we had imagined to be our target customers – parents of young children expressed the greatest enthusiasm, whereas we had imagined adults to be our main market.

So, the best piece of advice we can offer is to avoid isolating yourself from the customer and their wants. We were initially too focused on the device itself and neglected our relationship with customers, which hindered our progress in the early stages.

Our experience so far? Surprising, challenging, but ultimately rewarding.”

-       Colin Burke: SurfBuoy

LaunchBox halfway point: SmallFarms

“LaunchBox has been very helpful for identifying obstacles we will likely encounter during the development of Small Farms. I didn’t really know what to expect from LaunchBox when I started. I had never been in the start-up culture before so this was my first time experiencing it.

Small Farms has had to pivot from our initial aims of setting up a commercial farm, but it seems to be for the better with the way EU legislation deals with insects as food. We have gotten in contact with many people around the world that are involved in insect based foods as well as academic in the field of entomology. We have also started farming our own crickets as a way to learn the farming process and how to tune it to suit our product.

In 5 words, my experience at LaunchBox has been fun, informative, disappointing (from the roadblocks we've encountered), educational, and social.”

-       Johnathon Harris: Small Farms

LaunchBox halfway point: Nu.

“It’s been a great few weeks for Nu. Launchbox has put us into contact with an incredibly diverse range of people with different talents and ideas. It’s a really creative place to work and there’s a great camaraderie between the different teams. Nu. Has spent the last few weeks planning our next events, improving our online content through photo shoots, introducing a new revenue model for our swap-shops. Most importantly we are taking steps towards building our online wardrobe and have created an online pilot group to swap clothes as our proof of concept. We’ve also been talking to a lot of developers and are making progress on the tech side of things.

We’re really looking forward to our next event (Sat 23rd July) and our presence at Beatyard festival (30-31 July) which involves a panel discussion, installation and up-cycling tutorials. Launchbox has continually pushed us to aim higher and has been instrumental in allowing us to find our feet and develop a clear vision of our next step forward. Though it can be terrifying at times, we’ve had to put ourselves out there much more – and more often than not we have been getting a really positive response!

Experience in 5 words: Put yourself out there!”

-       Alison Kelly: Nu.            

LaunchBox halfway point: Neurobranch

“So far LaunchBox has been a crazy adventure. When we first began we had a primitive concept that we believed had potential to be something bigger. We designated our team into different aspects of business and design and set off to create our vision. Within the program we have really enjoyed hearing different speakers share their experiences with us to the point that we try to glean as much as we can from them to follow in their footsteps.

As the weeks went on we began with very rudimentary template emails that we would send to every potential industry contact we could find. What we never expected, was to be at this point in the program with a web of important people, heads of their respective fields meeting up with us, mentoring us and providing input into our design. As it currently stands we have contacts in RCSI , St James’s , Tallaght hospital and the Moyne institute of preventative medicine. Furthermore we have a market and digital pricing analyst helping us out as well as the head of the company whose software we are using for our app development.

Now at the midpoint our product has not only undergone a complete revision in design and evolved into a much more targeted product based on the market needs, but we have just completed what we are ready to call our beta.

If there is anything I would advise future entrepreneurs based on the experiences and lessons we’ve learned to date, it's that contacts mean everything. Don't just email the people you want to talk to, call them, have the people you know put you in contact with more people. Attend talks and conferences. And don't be afraid to ask your potential contacts if you can meet them for a quick coffee. A personal touch is incredibly important.”

-       Alexandru Sulea: Neurobranch