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Startups and industry experts work together to transform smart manufacturing in latest Smart Nano NI programme

Posted 25 Jan 2024

Startups and industry experts work together to transform smart manufacturing in latest Smart Nano NI programme

This week, nine companies from across Northern Ireland commenced their innovation journey on the latest Smart Nano NI Accelerator Programme. 

Led by Digital Catapult, the cutting-edge Manufacturing Innovation Challenge has been designed to foster innovation in the manufacturing sector by supporting tech companies to address key challenges in the industry, culminating in the opportunity to compete for a £75,000 Techstart Ventures Proof of Concept grant.

The diverse group of startups have been handpicked from a pool of talented applicants working at the forefront of technological innovation to take part in the 16-week programme. Aeroblue Software, Badger IoT, Eleveg, Nigma, NUA-VR, Rubik Technologies, Track Software, and Workplus will develop solutions to revolutionise manufacturing processes, ranging from AI-driven analytics to advanced IoT applications.

The programme consists of a series of intensive workshops, mentorship sessions, and networking events to hone participants’ business strategies, technical skills, and market understanding. Key topics include legal aspects of business, funding strategies, market and user validation, and more.

Distinguished mentors from leading manufacturing companies across Northern Ireland will work together with participants to enhance the real-world application and effectiveness of the tech companies’ solutions. Seagate, Leckey, NuPrint, Smiley Monroe, McColgans, Collins Aerospace, Galvia Digital, and Devenish will provide one-on-one mentorship, sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience to feedback to the companies.

Brendan Lowry, Senior Innovation Partner at Digital Catapult, said, ‘The invaluable expertise the mentors offer will give an extra dimension to the programme, helping participants to realise how these solutions can be implemented and scaled to create real change within industry.’ 

A core component of the programme is fostering collaborative opportunities. Participants will have the chance to connect with potential investors, industry experts, and fellow tech innovators. This environment not only accelerates their growth but also enriches the tech ecosystem as a whole.

Mark Gubbins, on behalf of Smart Nano NI consortium, explained that collaboration and partnerships are key to the success of the Smart Nano NI Accelerator programme, ‘Connecting the technology ecosystem in Northern Ireland stimulates innovation partnerships that can drive growth opportunities across NI. This programme helps push the boundaries in smart manufacturing, share knowledge and explore commercial applications of breakthrough ideas.’

The culmination of the programme will be a graduation demo day in May 2024. Startups will showcase their refined solutions to an audience of investors, industry leaders, and media representatives, and compete for a Techstart Ventures Proof of Concept grant of £75,000 to further explore the viability and commercial potential of their concept.

Kathleen Garrett from Techstart Ventures, said, ‘Based on the quality of the applications to the programme and the selected participants we have no doubt that the competition for the £75,000 grant will be high. We’re really looking forward to seeing how the innovations will develop through the programme and then hear the pitches for the grant.’

The winner of the grant will be announced at the programme graduation event in May 2024.