Investment goals: what it means to win the Startup World Cup

Kane Fulton, March 28, 2019 2 min read

It’s been almost a year since the last World Cup took place – unless you were in Northern Ireland this week.

Medical 3D printing startup Axial 3D beat 12 other emerging tech companies from the country to win the Belfast heat of the second Startup World Cup, which seeks promising entrepreneurs running companies with scaling potential.

A spinout from Ulster University, Axial 3D now has the opportunity to fly to San Francisco to take on other regional winners from Russia, China, Japan and other countries around the world in a bid to land $1m (around £760,000) of investment from Fenox Capital, the VC firm behind the competition. The final will be held on 17 May.

Companies applying to pitch were judged on scaling potential and ability to showcase Northern Ireland on a global platform. Successful applicants were given three minutes to pitch their product to judges from Ulster University; Wirefox; Kx Ventures and Allstate Northern Ireland. They were kept to time by Alistair Cameron, cofounder of startup self-help website Startacus.

The evening was facilitated by Tech Nation’s Northern Ireland Entrepreneur Engagement Manager Gary Davidson on behalf of Belfast Global Shapers, a community network with 370 hubs worldwide that helps young people under the age of 30 collaborate to address local, regional and global challenges.

“I was asked to get involved about six months ago on the strength of my local network and understanding of the local ecosystem,” says Davidson. “It was a really awesome thing to be involved in and we packed out the house. Ormeau Baths has around 90 seats but we had 140 people in – everybody from startups, VCs and local law firms – making it the biggest event the space has ever had.

“Axial 3D winning was a true reflection of an innovative startup being able to compete at a global level.”

Attendees heard from last year’s regional winner Jason McKeown, CEO and founder of neurological research company Neurovalens, who said that being involved with the competition brought his company “a significant amount of credibility and set it on the global stage”.

The event was sponsored by Ulster University – which pays for the winner’s trip to the US – in addition to Keystone Law, Real IT Recruitment, and Barclays Eagle Lab Belfast.

Community, Northern Ireland