Earlier this year, Cork City Council launched a new coworking space for startups, as a part of region's innovation and entrepreneurship strategy. By opening yet another space dedicated to new entrepreneurs, Cork aims to strengthen its rapidly expanding startup ecosystem across the region. These goals coincide with the objectives of many initiatives Cork City Council participates in, one of which is the Innova Foster project, funded under the Interreg Europe Programme.
COwoRK City, a 4,500 square foot co-working space for startups at Cork City Council was officially launched by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Mick Finn in July 2018. Under this initiative, emerging companies, funded by the Local Enterprise Offices, of Cork City Council, can develop their business idea in a city centre space before graduating to other spaces around the city when they are ready to scale up.
Aside from having access to a well-located modern and open plan office in the heart of Cork city, the 15 startup micro enterprises at any one time can secure desk space at COwoRK City as well as having access to onsite mentoring and support from the the LEO team of Cork City Council. The COwoRK City initiative aims to nurture micro businesses thus creating new jobs which will add to entrepreneurial diversity of the Cork.
This innovation space will also be used for boot camps, networking and workshops. Preference will be given to businesses operating in the areas of manufacturing or with potential to become internationally traded services and graduate to the Enterprise Ireland portfolio.
There is a wide selection of startups to be found within COwoRK City including Screen Hero - an Irish-owned company providing the highest-quality screen protection for mobile devices; Shopless - an AI powered personal shopping pp that connects retailers to their Target customers while providing insights on the customer journey both online and offline; Leads2Love - a dating and walks app for dog lovers, provide an online matchmaking services for individuals who are looking for a relationship with dog lovers and who enjoy outdoors while building a larger profile and supporting dog charities across Ireland.
One of the many events hosted in COwoRK City during 2018 was the CorkBIC Venture Academy™. The Venture Academy™ provides a pitching forum for investor-ready startups, entrepreneurs and SMEs to hear from serial entrepreneurs and investors and get real feedback, advice and coaching on their pitch. The most recent Venture Academy™ was hosted by Peter Crowley, President of the European Business Angel Network.
Ireland’s first Security accelerator was also hosted at COwoRK City earlier this year. This particular accelerator, a world-class security accelerator, invested in early stage disruptive companies across the security industry including sectors such as cybersecurity, Internet of Things, block chain, AI, health and bioinformatics, defence, critical infrastructure, financial services and logistics.
Cork is rapidly developing a reputation as home to Ireland’s growing security cluster and this accelerator proved a unique opportunity for startups to tap into the experience and resources of the strong network of Cork’s MNCs across Cork.
COwoRK City is also home to the Social Enterprise Development Fund, created by Social Innovation Fund Ireland, in partnership with Local Authorities Ireland and is funded by IPB Insurance and the Department of Rural and Community Development. The Department of Rural and Community Development provides match funding for all funds raised by Social Innovation Fund Ireland, through the Dormant Accounts Fund.
The Social Innovation Fund Ireland, the venture capital fund of the social innovation sector, is valued at €1.6 million fund and is being delivered over 2018 – 2020 with the objective of identifying and investing in social enterprises which add to the social and economic fabric of their community by way of social impact. The fund is considered a critical support to the most innovative and impactful projects proposed by social enterprises across Ireland. The fund offers financial grants as well as access to Ireland’s only national accelerator programme specifically designed for social enterprises.
COwoRK City also accommodates two EU projects: Atlantic Digital Startup Academy , an EU funded project which helps digital startups develop and launch their offer in international markets, and Atlantic Food Export, being a project supported also by the EU under the Atlantic Area Interreg Programme involving partners from 7 European regions. The project aims to improve competitiveness and increase exports of AA food sector SMEs primarily by encouraging business cooperation initiatives, such as export consortia.