The SPRINT Accelerator Programme was developed by GatewayUCC Business Incubator Manager, Myriam Cronin, as a support for the pipeline of Spin-Out and Researcher-Led start-ups seeking accommodation in the GatewayUCC Incubation Centre.
Designed to support early-stage start-ups, entrepreneurs and UCC-based researchers, SPRINT focuses on commercialisation of UCC-generated technologies and routes to market. SPRINT delivers all the information these companies need, giving them the correct information at the correct time, so that they can make better business decisions and avoid the pitfalls many fledgling companies fall into due to lack of knowledge and experience.
SPRINT modules cover a range of topics, some of which include:
- Business Strategy / Value Proposition
- Regulatory Requirements
- Legal and IP Issues
- Business Plan Development
- Channels to Market
- Funding Options
- Equity and Strategies
- Crafting your Elevator Pitch
- Pitching to Investors
- Building a Team to Scale Your Business.
Each participating company is assigned a dedicated mentor and at the end of the accelerator, participants have a business plan and road map strategy for their 1st year, combined with a network of entrepreneurial supports.
Sponsorship of the SPRINT Accelerator has been secured from Enterprise Ireland, Bank of Ireland, Cork City Council and Cork City LEO. View the press release about the launch of the SPRINT Accelerator Programme here.
Each SPRINT programme takes 10 researchers and early-stage companies, from cross-campus disciplines for 10 modules and workshops, over a 3-month period and develops them from proof of concept to pitching for investment. The programme is designed around the busy schedule of the researcher, but is delivered in a 3-month timeframe to keep the momentum going throughout the programme.
There were 10 early-stage company participants in the first SPRINT accelerator, from diverse areas such as Bioinformatics, Digital mobile, Medtech, eHealth, Nutrition and Food Health and ICT. These pre- and early-stage start-ups have been working with seasoned and successful business mentors, as well as being coached in business development, scaling and growth internationally.
Participants are assigned an experienced entrepreneur as mentor to work with business plan scoping and delivery. The SPRINT Programme is delivered by Serial Entrepreneurs and Business Practitioners. These presenters are all entrepreneurs, having started up, scaled, raised finance and, in many cases, sold their businesses.
Throughout the 10 Modules, the participants cover all the areas on the start-up journey, from Idea Stage to Customer and Product Validation, from Legal and Regulatory Requirements right through to Development of Business Plan, Sales Plan, Route to Market, Funding Strategy, Pitching to Investors and Raising Capital, culminating with Building the Right Team to Support a Successful Start-Up. Early intervention in these matters can be the catalyst for success.
SPRINT is a true example of the “triple helix” at work with the university’s knowledge / IP based start-ups being supported by government agencies (Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise Offices), mentored by highly experienced business entrepreneurs, all brought together to develop sustainable growth oriented knowledge companies.
SPRINT is a unique accelerator as it reaches back into the Research Centres such as APC Microbiome Institute, Tyndall National Institute, INFANT, INSIGHT etc. of the university, identifies these pre- and early-stage companies and researchers working on cutting edge technologies and platforms, giving them the tools and assistance they need, prior to spinning out, for the development of their businesses, navigating the business landscape and introducing them to the networks and connections that can help them succeed.
Participants of the SPRINT Accelerator are usually developing business ideas that have been predicated on years of research culminating in IP that has global reach if channelled correctly. SPRINT has been developed to overcome the challenges they will encounter while starting up their businesses. Through its marrying together of seasoned entrepreneurs and mentors with novice researchers / budding entrepreneurs, SPRINT is designed to smooth the pathway and help them succeed. The Peer-to-Peer learning for the companies is also invaluable and is building its own network of start-up companies from the university that can help each other going forward.
The impact of the Programme is best illustrated in the words of the early-stage participants:
Conor O Shea, Skellig Surgical
“The UCC SPRINT programme has provided an invaluable and refreshing opportunity to gain firsthand experience of startup entrepreneurship. This practitioner driven programme offers unparalleled access to the nuances of conceiving and delivering a viable company. The personal lessons gained through the experiences of successful entrepreneurs are openly shared and discussed with the programme participants, unveiling the disconnect between the academic and practical processes to business formation. For Skellig Surgical; an emerging medical device company focused on the development and commercialisation of user-centred technology, topics such as regulatory and legal requirements, customer validation, market opportunity and route to market have been particularly beneficial which would have otherwise required significant financial resources to acquire comparable expert consultation.”
Skellig Surgical was featured as an up and coming start-up in the Sunday Business Post, 10th April 2016
Ruth Patel, Respiro Medica
“I would absolutely recommend the SPRINT programme to other startups. The advice from seasoned entrepreneurs is invaluable and it has really energized us to hear their stories. Myriam and her program has put us in contact with the right people and services that will help us move forward faster and in the right direction.”
Audrey Michel, BioInfomatics
“Undoubtedly I have learned something useful in all of the modules. Hearing about their own business start-up experiences from the speakers has brought to my attention the areas that we need to focus on such as the need to identify our markets, route to market, the emphasis on high sales and how to retain customers, branding, etc., and potential pitfalls such as the need to protect our IP.
In particular, the accounting module, while very comprehensive, was delivered by Billy O Connor in a very accessible manner. The explanation of terms such as gross profit, net profit, cash flow, etc. in this module along with Veronica Murphy’s module on business models explaining pricing, mark-up etc. has helped me understand these terms in the context of our company.
Gillian Keating’s advice regarding the legal side brought to my attention how to avoid potential conflicts regarding company partnerships. Dave Gibbons emphasis on agents with credibility and market contacts was not something I had thought about before. Thank you very much for organising the programme and for accepting my application to attend. I have learned a lot of useful information and being aware of potential stumbling blocks and also opportunities early rather than later, will undoubtedly be very helpful in our company start-up and development.”