Trinity College Dublin has welcomed eight new teams of budding entrepreneurs to its student incubator, LaunchBox. Now in its second year, LaunchBox will run a three-month accelerator programme, which is open to teams of Trinity students (undergraduate and postgraduate) with early-stage business ideas.
This year’s teams will work to deliver investor-ready ventures focused on a variety of themes. One team is aiming to develop an app that will allow people to gain fashion insights from their immediate environment, while others aim to produce a growing online repository for quality teaching resources, develop a software management system for cataloguing laboratory chemicals and provide an intelligent system for homes that ‘knows’ when you need the lights on.
The other four teams will make an industry-leading drink for athletes, deliver a crowdsourcing social media platform for indie video game developers, use cutting-edge technology to make children’s glasses frames at much-reduced prices, and develop a system that allows people to pay for products by tapping their mobile phones with their credit/debit cards.
This unique business incubator provides coaching, expert advice, seed funding and access to the space and facilities needed to test out and launch the new ventures. Supported by the Trinity ‘Angels’, who come from Trinity’s network of alumni and friends, LaunchBox offers an innovative combination of practice and education.
The selected teams have taken up residency in Regent House, above the front arch of Trinity College, where an inspiring view of the city on one side and the auspicious history of Front Square on the other will provide the backdrop to their entrepreneurial efforts. The space houses a unique ‘pop-up’ studio, which caters to all of the needs of a successful start-up including the provision of super-fast wifi and strong coffee.
LaunchBox will pair these teams up with experienced entrepreneurs, who will coach and provide continuous feedback on their startups. Teams will also have access to a wide range of master classes, covering the fundamentals of starting a venture and including a range of guest speakers and networking opportunities.
Professor Vinny Cahill, Dean of Research at Trinity, said: “Trinity College is delighted to continue LaunchBox for a second year. The recent successes of our 2013 teams have underlined the benefits of this programme and served to reaffirm Trinity's commitment to producing graduates that can create jobs through innovation and entrepreneurship. LaunchBox gives students the opportunity to nurture their start-ups in an environment that offers guidance and support while encouraging creativity to create real impact for Ireland.”
LaunchBox 2013 produced a number of successes, with the majority of teams securing funding to take their startups to the next stage of development. Social enterprise Foodcloud raised €70k from professional investors and has secured a major deal with Tesco (all of the Irish superstores’ surplus food will now be donated to charity via the Foodcloud app). The Group/Event Management system Hive raised €50k seed funding from Enterprise Ireland and €100k from RTE’s Dragon’s Den, while Artomatix, which develops tools for automating digital media creation, secured €100k in venture funding.
Additionally, despite only being in existence for a year, Trinity’s LaunchBox was assessed by the University Business Incubator (UBI) Index as a ‘Top Challenger’, placing it just outside the world’s ‘Top 25’ from 800 incubators assessed objectively by the Index.
This Year’s Teams:
SELFiT’s mobile application will allow users to gain fashion inspiration in a fun and convenient way. The app will enable users to experience fashion in a competitive and gamified atmosphere, while connecting fashion designers and retailers to their customer base. This will be done via a public platform that facilitates two-way interaction between the public and the fashion industry.
LessonPrep aims to be the go-to online place for quality teaching resources (downloadables and video). Online learning platforms for students have proliferated in recent years, but teachers have yet to benefit from advances in online education resources. An online library of video resources will be created to help teachers and improve the quality of teaching worldwide. The aim is for 'LessonPrep' to be the ‘Jamie Oliver’ of teaching, with content that is concise, inspiring and easily implemented. The team wishes to help and inspire teachers and to make sure great teaching techniques travel.
An academic research laboratory can use and store 50 – 5,000 different, hazardous research chemicals. Labcup is a cloud-based chemical management software platform, which aids academic researchers and safety officers with inventory management of chemicals. The platform allows for streamlining risk assessment in the lab and ensures safety protocols are complied with in an easy manner. This would allow researchers using the software to comply with legislation alongside making the lab they work in more efficient.
Light-house is an intelligent, automatic lighting system for the home that knows when the lights need to be on. A bedside lamp with a difference: it can be used as normal, but can also control the lights in the room; it knows when it’s dark and will switch itself off so as not to consume energy during the day. Originally developed for assisting the elderly, Light-house aims to create a safer environment to prevent falling at night. By using sensors to turn on the lights immediately when a person gets out of bed, it removes the need to find light switches in the dark. Light-house uses a strip of LEDs to illuminate the path and these LEDs consume 60% less energy compared to normal incandescent bulbs.
According to the CSO (Central Statistics Office in Ireland) 13,360 new care homes will need to be built by 2020 to support an ageing population and the team hopes to install their system in these. As well as safety and security, Light-house is at the cutting edge of 'Lighting Leisure' and can be installed in new or existing hotels.
Aquachia is a combination of fortified water and new-age ingredients resulting in a truly original beverage. The drink will be aimed at athletes – particularly runners – as it will be fortified not only with whole Chia but also ingredients that enhance endurance and help prolong hydration. Aquachia is a modern take on an ancient Aztec drink famous for its high content of fibre, protein and in particular Omega 3 ALA and Omega 6. On top of the nutritional benefits, the drink itself provides the end user with a unique “mouth-feel” unlike anything else they will have experienced. Aquachia will be the first beverage company to release a Chia-based beverage onto the European market.
InDieVelopment is a crowdsourcing social platform for indie video games that provides developers with a unique opportunity for raising funds, sharing resources, networking with peers and creating a loyal base of gamers who support projects through to completion. It will bring indie teams together with gamers and other developers, create a community of gamers for gamers, with one clear goal: keeping the indie video game world vibrant and innovative.
Wave is an ‘m-commerce’ payment processor for mobile shopping applications that will enable merchants to make Card Present transactions online for the very first time. Through the use of NFC technology, Wave enables consumers who are using these mobile applications to pay for merchandise using their NFC-enabled debit/credit card by simply tapping the back of their phone with the card and entering their PIN when prompted.
SpecTec is a social enterprise which aims to utilise cutting-edge, injection moulding technology to produce children’s glasses frames at a significantly reduced price to current retail prices. The ultimate aim of the company is to build a strong market position through the provision of a product that is innovative, customisable and trendy; one which is attractive to both user and buyer. Crucial also to the market position and brand image is the company’s inherent social mission: to reduce the carbon footprint stemming directly from the distribution of glasses, and to promote entrepreneurial learning in second and third-level education.