I’m Morrigan Johnston – Tech Nation’s Northern Ireland Scaleup Engagement Manager. We’re building a national network of ambitious entrepreneurs. If you’re a founder who requires support, feel free to book a meeting with me using this form.
Opportunities and events
Interested in attending events for digital tech founders in the North West? Then follow Morrigan on Twitter, where she’ll be sharing the best ones that come his way.
Morrigan also tweets noteworthy national opportunities for founders – everything from accelerators and competitions to investment and collaboration opportunities, panels appearances, and much more.
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For additional stats, explore Data Commons. It’s our ground-breaking national database of technology businesses, founders, investors, VC funds, angels, accelerators, universities and service providers to the sector.
The problem that Neurovalens is trying to solve or address is really twofold. One is that Neurotechnology has been around for more than 30 years, but it’s typically implanted. So that makes it a very high-risk, and very expensive. The first challenge that Neurovalens has that we’re trying to solve is how do you make that less expensive and less risky. We have done that by making the tech non-invasive. So Neurovalens at a core level makes non-invasive neurotechnology.
That brings the cost down about 100 fold; some of these devices implanted are $30,000, whereas our tech is in the region of $300. And also then the risk profile changes from being a last resort to being a potential first-line therapy, and even beyond that where you can operate in the preventative space which is actually a pretty new area of medicine; that’s where consumer health and low-risk medical devices overlap. So that is the first problem we’re solving.
Why did you base your company where you did?
Interestingly, our primary clinical site that we have is in California, so whenever we were looking at all the clinical data and the tech that potentially we could make, we had the option of setting up in California – or actually setting up in the UK – specifically in Belfast. There are several reasons why we picked Belfast; one is that I’m from there and did my medical degree there. I’m very proud to be from here and represent Northern Ireland.
The second part of that is that the government support we have in the UK, in general, is arguably much better than we would have in the US. But also specific to Belfast or Northern Ireland is that the support financially that we have with invest NI, even from just an education point of view, is really significant. And then outside of just Neurovalens, the other thing we have here in Belfast is really high skillset for a pretty reasonable cost. So if you look at the wages for a team in the US or in Silicon Valley compared to here in Belfast you get a much greater skillset but at a greatly reduced cost. So all of those reasons together made us want to focus Neurovalens here in Belfast.
SaltDNA are a multi-award-winning cybersecurity company based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, that builds secure enterprise mobile communications solutions. SaltDNA offers ‘Peace of Mind’ for organisations who value their privacy by giving them complete control and secure communications to protect their trusted relationships and stay safe.
Why did you choose to base your company in your place or region?
When developing the concept of SaltDNA the founders of the business were based in San Francisco working for global enterprise solution companies. To develop the SaltDNA secure communications platform, they wanted to move back to Belfast to leverage the excellent resources the city had to offer, in addition to the high level of graduates that were being developed at Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University.
What changes do you feel your company has brought about in your region/the UK/the world?
In the past 12 months, we have expanded our partner programme significantly, adding new partners in USA, Mexico, Canada, Ireland, UK, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, UAE, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic, Singapore, India, Indonesia, Ireland, United Kingdom and Spain.
Founded in 2010, Automated Intelligence (AI) is a UK-based, award-winning software company headquartered in the heart of Belfast. AI empowers organisations to take control of their data so that they can better plan and manage their digital future. Over the past 10 years, AI has developed solutions to supply the ever-changing data management needs of companies from across a range of industries. AI provides a world-class, cloud-based data management platform which is used to index, analyse and govern companies’ data by applying automated policies and compliance.
Many of the clients AI works with are operating in heavily regulated industries which have strict laws meaning that the management, retention and storage of their data needs to be world-class. This highlights the scope and quality of AI’s solutions. Regardless of industry, AI provides flexible and tailored solutions to suit ever-changing business requirements and promote the success of each of its clients.
How could the place or region that you are based in be better prepared for your business growth/scaling?
In Northern Ireland, there is a tendency to lack confidence in the incredible work we do or to believe that there isn’t a place for our businesses on the global stage. By promoting and supporting fellow businesses, that belief will begin to build, and local companies will envisage themselves competing globally and achieving the scale of what they are capable of.
Northern Ireland has an elite pool of talent and skills to offer. This offers a unique opportunity for employers and talent, but also leads to a fiercely competitive landscape and a need to attract new talent to live and work in Northern Ireland.
How is your company disrupting a part of the economy?
See.Sense is creating market disruption on two levels. Firstly, our intelligent bike lights use advanced sensor technology to monitor the environment around the rider, flashing to make them more visible at times of risk – like road junctions, roundabouts, filtering in traffic and approaching car headlights. Our Internet of Things bike tracker is the first of its kind, using state of the art connectivity to locate a stolen bike on your smartphone. Our products are now sold to 70 countries, and we have a growing community of over 70,000 riders. See.Sense is the official bike light and ride insights supplier to both British Cycling and Cycling Ireland.
Secondly, our products generate a comprehensive, geo-spatially located data set that helps cities gain never before seen insights into the rider’s experience, including road surface condition, collisions, journeys and more.
Why did you feel that the place or region that you are based in was a good place to disrupt your industry?
Northern Ireland has a great talent pool to draw on, allowing us to build an amazing team who are passionate to scale our home-grown solutions on a global level. There’s a supportive eco-system here for startups too, allowing us to learn from and support others in our network when we can. Additionally, as a low-cost manufacturing base, we’ve been able to manufacture locally here in Northern Ireland, which has given us competitive benefits.
Which markets does your company operate in at the moment?
Our products are now sold to 70 countries, we have a growing community of over 70,000 riders, and we are the Official Bike Light and Crowdsourced Data Insights provider to both British Cycling and Cycling Ireland.
External support for founders
Our curated picks of support for founders from around Northern Ireland
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