Irish Finance Minister speaks at Scale Ireland

Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donoghue indicates continuing support for the startup sector in Ireland

My coverage of Scale Ireland’s headline event on September 12th began with some networking in a meeting space allocated by Avolon, one of Scale Ireland’s longest supporters. I got chatting with Netsso’s CEO and Founder Eoin O’Doherty. He explained how his digital product worked allowing those in the legal field to collate and organise their case files. After an interesting walk-through of Netsso’s product by Eoin, we were in turn walked into the main auditorium area for the event.

Irish Finance Minister speaks at Scale Ireland

Martina Fitzgerald, CEO of Scale Ireland kicked off the main attraction at midday making formal introductions. She noted startups as a key element in continuing government policy around economic development. Minister Paschal Donoghue then took the stage with his keynote speech acknowledging the value and importance of the ‘startup sector’. He noted that now is a great time to be thinking about the development of our (environmental) impact and digital industries through our startup sector, which the government sees as key to our economic future.

He then mentioned the new schemes for startups like the 90 million euro fund for new ventures in key areas explaining that the government seeks via the budget to maintain ‘balanced economic supports’ for a sustainable future in Ireland. The minister stayed on to participate in the panel discussions chaired by Martina Fitzgerald.

First up were the entrepreneurs with Jack Pierce, Co-Founder and CFO of Mayflyer, Orlaith Ryan, Co-Founder and CTO of Shorla Oncology and Matthew Coffey, Co-Founder and CEO, Squid. Wayflyer is valued at 1.6 billion euros and is a fintech success example that has 55% of its investment from the US and the balance from the rest of the world. Jack’s main ask is the reduction of the administrative burden around raising money and dealing with Enterprise Ireland. His burdens around administration are understandable given he was a 3 person operation 3 years ago and has gone through a monumental growth spurt as a startup.

Orlaith’s deep R&D involvement with Shorla Oncology has seen her work very closely with a colleague Sharon Cunningham on the development of 3 pharma products in Ireland. Her startup has operations based in Ireland and the USA. She sees her scaling plans as going through a critical phase over the coming year given the developmental stage of her products. Orlaith after raising 10 million euros would like to see fewer administration burdens around raising cash, which would then allow her to strengthen her focus on the business and its technological development.

Matthew’s company ‘Squid’ has done what we all wish someone would do, take our points cards from our favourite retailers and store them in one central app on our phones. Squid started in coffee shops centralising loyalty schemes. Matthew tells us, that the app will soon support points schemes with no need to carry multiple cards. He also shares the pain points shared around raising cash and would like to see government schemes have less bureaucratic process workflows.

The next panel was two key investors, Will Prendergast, Partner with Frontline VC and Faye Walsh Drouillard, Founder and General Partner, WakeUp Capital. Will notes the 20% decline in US capital provision and thinks this loss in investor confidence will trickle into Europe later this year. Will finished with some good advice for entrepreneurs around not taking general advice. Startup entrepreneurs should deeply understand their own circumstances and base their spending decisions on them. He noted options are created around good timing for the individual use case, not the industry average.

Faye was very focused on investment in the environment, sustainable food and healthy living. She delivered some practical advice noting the implementation of a startup plan is key to success along with confirmation it has achieved its goals. She also mentioned everybody under 30, along with the EU plus others cares about sustainability with policy ‘EFGs’ (environmental policies) and impact actions achieving sustainability goals. She mentioned the latter as key to a startup’s success as there are ways to measure your impact so think about what impact your startup will achieve 10 years from now.

Martina closed the event which was well received. The base message I got from this was that Europe along with Ireland was taking climate change very seriously and it should! It also noted the digital future envisaged and its key influence on our environmental initiatives. As an engineer specialising in cloud technologies, I can say the economic direction of our country is been steered in the right direction. These two industries are not only rife with opportunity, but they are also critical to our future as a people on a planet, which has for too long suffered neglect by those who call it home.

John Mulhall @johnmlhll | is a writer with Irish Tech News for over 6 years and also Founder, DevOps and Cloud Infrastructure Engineer with Maolte Technical Solutions Limited. You can learn more about John and his new company at

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