Derry~Londonderry company, Modern Democracy, was recently named the Best Early Stage company and Belfast-based Photonics Measurements the best New Start company at the Northern Ireland final of the 2015 InterTradeIreland All-Island Seedcorn Investor Readiness competition.
They overcame tough competition to each walk away with a €20,000 cash prize to help finance the early stages of their ventures. The companies will now go on to compete in the all-island final of the competition, which will take place on Wednesday 25th November at Clontarf Castle, Dublin.
Modern Democracy, produces mobile applications to encourage people to feel more involved in politics, including a voter engagement app and a polling station app. The company also provides consultancy services for elections. While targeting the UK initially, Modern Democracy has already provided consultancy services in Europe and the Middle East.
Photonic Measurements makes devices to analyse the quality of water in terms of chemical content, murkiness, organic content and colour with the first customers, large water utilities and a University, situated in the UK and Ireland. The company then intends to start selling into Europe in 2016.
Now in its 13th year, Seedcorn is the island’s biggest business competition for new start and early stage companies in any sector, from any part of the island. The competition, aimed at companies who have a new equity funding requirement, has an overall cash prize fund of €280,000, with no equity stake. To date, InterTradeIreland has supported over 2,151 enterprising companies through the Seedcorn process. With €197 million in new equity being raised by the companies who have reached the regional finals stage of the Seedcorn competition over the past 12 years, the competition has a strong track record of supporting early business start-ups to become investor ready.
Siobhan Donaghy, CEO of Modern Democracy, said; “I am absolutely delighted that Modern Democracy has won Best Early Stage Company. When we first heard about Seedcorn last year, we felt that the Seedcorn competition would be a good way to raise the profile of our company and help us to secure additional funding. Investment is one of the funding sources that we are seriously exploring to allow us to grow rapidly and meet our targets. It was also great to get additional mentoring and support and the feedback on our business plan has been extremely encouraging and valuable.
“If we win the national competition we will be investing the money in the development of sales and marketing collateral and enhancing our website and digital promotional materials, which would add value to our business.”
Vincent McCorry, co-founder of Photonic Measurements, said; “I am absolutely delighted to win Best New Start Company at the Northern Ireland Regional Finals. The competition seemed like a great option through which to scale the business and we are hoping that the profile in the equity network will allow us to tap into additional equity funding and gain expert support along the way.
“The greatest reward for participating to date has been receiving high quality third party assessments of our business, which has given us a huge deal of confidence moving forward into the post-commercialisation. By committing ourselves to the Seedcorn competition we had to accept the challenge to face up to the gaps in our business and through the competition, remedy them. Through this process, we learned so much and feel we are in a much better position to secure the extra funding we require to allow us to scale the business. Winning the competition would be incredible and would allow us to grow our channels in Europe and invest in additional personnel.”
Connor Sweeney, Seedcorn Project Manager, InterTradeIreland added; “Seedcorn is considered the most important barometer for new and emerging companies among the investment and business communities across the island. Not only does the competition deliver a cash prize for the winners, but it also allows businesses to experience the competitive investor pitch process and equips them with the skills for future pitches.
“Since the competition inception over 12 years ago, the standard of the companies taking part has risen year on year and I sincerely congratulate both Modern Democracy and Photonic Measurements on their win today against very tough competition.
“The Seedcorn Competition reaches out to businesses early in their development and it’s exciting for InterTradeIreland to work with these companies at such a crucial stage in their journey. I look forward to seeing them grow from strength to strength.”
The companies will go head-to-head with the winners of the Munster, Dublin, and Connacht & Leinster finals at Clontarf Castle Hotel in Dublin on the 25th November, where they will compete for the overall ‘Category Award’ prize worth €50,000 or the ‘Overall Winner Award’ prize worth €100,000.
Companies can follow the Competition on Twitter (@ITI_seedcorn) #itiseedcorn or on LinkedIn (Seedcorn Network) where they can get valuable information and advice from experts.
Further details are also available on the Seedcorn website at www.intertradeireland.com/seedcorn