SmartRoutes Scoops £50,000 At Innovation Nation


Innovation Nation 2018: SmartRoutes scoops £50,000 prize in Ascend start-up competition.

An early stage company which helps delivery firms plan routes more efficiently claimed a prize worth £50,000 at Ascend, the inaugural start-up competition at Innovation Nation held in Newry recently.

Cork-based SmartRoutes took the top spot in a tightly-fought competition made up of some of the best start-ups from throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic and run by start-up platform Startacus.

It walked away with a cash prize of £3,000, as well as professional advisory services from, amongst others, KPMG, Kx Technology, Lanyon Communications and Startacus. The package together totals £50,000.

Calvin O’Callaghan, founder of SmartRoutes which took the top prize, said: “We’ve taken no formal investment onboard so winning the Ascend start-up competition will be absolutely massive in helping drive things forward for SmartRoutes.”

Pictured at the Innovation Nation dinner in Newry Town Hall are: Garrett O’Hare from Flexi Work Space, Ashleen Feeney, Director at KPMG; Calvin O’Callaghan, founder of SmartRoutes; Kevin McGivern from Kx; host Connor Phillips.

Second place was taken by Clare-based company Get the Shifts tech-centric staffing solution which is disrupting the Irish hospitality sector by supporting bars, restaurants, cafes, festivals, and other hospitality and events businesses to source experienced, temporary staff in their area on demand.

The judges also awarded Northern Irish startup Cropsafe with a ‘One to Watch’ title.

Cropsafe, with a team of three co-founders aged 17, impressed beyond their years, and their pitch for their AgriTech platform that utilizes satellite imagery to accurately detect and predict impending diseases within farmers’ crops, left a mark on the audience and the Ascend judges.

Councillor Mark Murnin, Chairman of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, said: “The Ascend start-up competition attracted some brilliant entries and a very worthy winner in SmartRoutes. These are the kind of businesses which this district is brilliantly placed to support and we can’t wait to help them grow in the coming months and years.”

Liam Hannaway, Council Chief Executive said: “The focus of Innovation Nation is to celebrate great ideas like the ones we saw in the Ascend pitches. As a council, we know that start-ups like these are the lifeblood of our economy and that’s why we’re determined to make this district a place they want to come and do business.”

Alastair Cameron, co-founder of Startacus who hosted the Ascend startup pitch competition said: “It is no exaggeration to say that we were totally delighted with the standard of the early-stage Irish startups on show. Whilst all credit must go to SmartRoutes, Get the Shifts and Cropsafe for being awarded with the 1st, 2nd and ‘One to Watch’ titles, it is fair to say that a good number of startups also scored heavily by the Judges and scoring was very close on the day.

“I would not be surprised if quite a few of these startups go on to raise angel and VC investment over the coming 12 months.”

RISCalert, Unitek.AI, Motoklik, Afterbook, Journey Protector, Jadeblok, Elastic Energy, Compensave, MiBudi, Machine Eye, made up the list of early-stage start-ups on show.

The judges included Kevin McGivern of Kx, Ashleen Feeney of KPMG in Northern Ireland, Garrett O’Hare of Flexi Work Space and Drew O’Sullivan of InterTradeIreland.

Innovation Nation 2018, was run by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and a number of supporting partners from the public and private sectors. It showcased how organisations can use the latest innovations and technology to drive their businesses and shone a light on the burgeoning tech scene in Newry and the surrounding area.

Innovation Nation 2018 Sponsors.

Platinum Sponsor: First Derivatives plc

Gold Sponsor: Norbrook Laboratories

Silver Sponsors: KPMG, STATSports, Invest Northern Ireland

About First Derivatives

First Derivatives (FD) is a global technology provider with 20 years of experience working with some of the world’s largest finance, technology, retail, pharma, manufacturing and energy institutions. The Group’s Kx technology, incorporating the kdb+ time-series database, is a leader in high-performance, in-memory computing, streaming analytics and operational intelligence. Kx delivers the best possible performance and flexibility for high-volume, data-intensive analytics and applications across multiple industries. FD operates from 14 offices across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific, including its headquarters in Newry, and employs more than 2,300 people worldwide.

About Norbrook Laboratories.

Norbrook is a leading global provider of veterinary pharmaceuticals enhancing the health of farm and companion animals. Established in 1969, in Newry, by the late Lord Ballyedmond, it is one of the largest, family-owned, veterinary pharmaceutical companies in the world. Norbrook has a presence in more than 100 countries, with facilities in the UK and Ireland, Europe, the US, Africa and Australia. The aim is to be the first to market with generic veterinary pharmaceutical products with differentiators or enhancements, in comparison to pioneer products. Norbrook has a history of product innovation; investing significantly in Research and Development; and the strong pipeline of products is a key growth driver for the company.