by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Five ambitious tech companies from the Ignite NI Accelerator will this week travel to San Francisco for three months as part of a new initiative designed to assist them with raising investment funding, growing sales and testing the viability of a US base. The Ignite NI Landing Pad is a competitive programme where five teams who have previously participated in the accelerator programme were selected based on their ability to demonstrate that San Francisco and the US is a tangible market for them.

The programme, supported by Invest Northern Ireland, aims to give the teams a head-start in a city that is known as the global hub of the technology sector and home to industry giants such as Apple and Facebook.

The five teams selected for the first Landing Pad are: Cloudsmith, Snappd, iSensing, Datch and Prospr.

Each team will receive support to cover travel and accommodation and will be based at a private Ignite NI Landing Pad office at WeWork in the heart of the city for the duration of their stay. During this time Ignite will utilise its networks to support, advise and connect them to key industry players and provide ongoing mentoring support on the ground in San Francisco.

The Landing Pad initiative follows the success of the week-long San Francisco study visit that is an integral part of the Accelerator programme and provides vital exposure to experienced entrepreneurs and investors.

Chris McClelland, Programme Director at Ignite NI, said: “Working alongside Invest NI, the Landing Pad is an exciting addition to the support for startups in Northern Ireland and builds on the knowledge and support gained during the Pre-Accelerator and Accelerator programmes.

“There’s no doubt that San Francisco and the Bay Area is a unique place for startups, with a highly concentrated collection of tech companies, investors and successful founders. Giving the companies the opportunity to immerse themselves in the US market for an extended period of time is an innovative approach that will pay dividends for the participants, the start-up ecosystem and the Northern Ireland economy.”

Niall Casey from Invest NI said: “Breaking into the US market is not easy but can be transformational for the Northern Ireland companies who get it right. We think it essential that our exciting young tech companies get an early opportunity to decide if it is a viable option, while gaining a direct understanding of the skills and investment needed to compete on a global stage.”

Each of the Accelerator companies selected are actively targeting growth opportunities in the US. For example:

[if !supportLists]        [endif]iSensing’s technology, which helps cities make data driven decisions, is being rolled out across cities in the UK and US, including Belfast and Dublin. The locally based team are actively looking to rapidly grow in the US. 

[if !supportLists]        [endif]San Francisco has the highest concentration of software teams anywhere in the world, making it an ideal market for Belfast-based Cloudsmith, who have developed technology that is transforming the way software companies deploy software. 

[if !supportLists]        [endif]Derry-based Snappd already has large global brands, including UK leading skin-care brands, using its ‘Instagram Stories for the Web’ tool and expects to build on and expand this interest in San Francisco.


Applications for the next Propel Pre-Accelerator for early stage companies opens on September 16. Applications for the IgniteNI Accelerator, which is aimed at more established companies, opens on November 18.

For more information on the programmes go to

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Alan Carson, founder of Cloudsmith, Managing Director of Ignite NI, Chris McClelland, Harvey Beilinsohn, founder of iSensing and Propel programme manager at Invest NI, Martin Adair.


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