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16 innovative Irish companies to keep an eye on this year

We take a look at some of the businesses likely to make an impression in 2016.

IN INDUSTRIES RANGING from software to sports, from finance to food, innovative Irish companies have been making people in the business world stand up and take notice.

So with the curtain going up on 2016, we look at some of the new firms we expect to leave an impression in the year ahead:

1. Movidius

Movidius Founders - Sean Mitchell & David Moloney Movidius founders Sean Mitchell and David Moloney Maxwell Photography Maxwell Photography

At 10 years old, Movidius qualifies as one of the more-mature outfits in the Irish tech scene. But the Dublin-founded, Silicon Valley-headquartered chip designer remains one of the most promising new companies to emerge from the island in the past decade.

With its cutting-edge sensors, which are designed to mimic human vision, the firm is poised to capitalise on some of the current boom industries in tech like virtual reality and drones.

2. AventaMed

Aventamed Aventamed's Olive O'Driscoll and John Vaughan YouTube YouTube

One of a string of promising medical-technology startups around the country, AventaMed raised €1.3 million in funding in September to run clinical trials on its first product. The device, which will be put through the tests early this year, is a grommet that can be inserted into children’s ears to help treat serious ear infections without resorting to general anaesthetic.

3. Fire Financial Services

90274844 (1) Fire's Colm Lyon Mark Stedman / Mark Stedman / /

Helmed by online payment guru Colm Lyon, Fire allows customers to make bank-free, person-to-person financial transactions using only a mobile phone. The spin-off business will have the entrepreneur’s full attention after he sold the company he founded in 2000, Realex Payments, for €115 million in March.

4. Rye River Brewing Company


The brewers behind the McGargles brand expect to employ a staggering 150 people at what will be Ireland’s biggest independent brewery when work on the €4 million project is finished. The company also forecasts sales of €16 million for 2015, a near-threefold increase on the previous year’s figure.

5. Intercom

download Intercom CEO Eoghan McCabe LinkedIn LinkedIn

OK, Intercom was launched in San Francisco four years ago – but it qualifies for this list by virtue of its four Irish co-founders, as well as the company running its research and engineering operations out of Dublin.

The company, which is trying to make customer service as simple as using Whatsapp, took on a $35 million-sized wad of investment in August to help it chase new customers and keep developing its services.

6. Playertek

playertek Playertek's Ronan Mac Ruairi and Kevin McDaid

This Dundalk business is taking it to some of the world’s biggest sports bands in the fast-growing market for wearable devices. Its main product, designed for use in all the football codes, brings professional-level player tracking and data analytics to teams at amateur-level prices.

7. Web Summit

90399192 Web Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

The company behind the self-described “world’s greatest tech fest” lost some friends in 2015 after its decision to uproot from Dublin and take its flagship event to Lisbon. But critics aside, Paddy Cosgrave and the team have created a serious operation out of the capital – where they are said to employ 130-plus people.

The coming year will show whether setting sail for Portugal with the event is a genius business move or pure folly.

8. Pointy

Pointy Pic Pointy co-founders Charles Bibby, far left, and Mark Cummins, far right Colm Mahady / Fennells Colm Mahady / Fennells / Fennells

This Dublin startup helps small retailers build websites to promote their products online. Via a small device that plugs into existing point-of-sale systems, Pointy automatically creates web listings for stores’ products as items are scanned.

The young company got a €1.1 million endorsement for its idea last year from investors including Wordpress founder Matt Mullenweg.

9. Dingle Whiskey Distillery


A new, independent operation at the vanguard of the very old business of making Irish whiskey, the Dingle Distillery started producing spirits in 2012 and in December it cracked the first cask of whiskey to emerge from a producer other than the “big three” in 35 years.

As new distilleries continue appearing all over the country, expect this to be a massive year for the industry.

10. Newswhip

Paul and Andrew small Newswhip co-founders Andrew Mullaney and Paul Quigley

With many of the world’s biggest publishers, including BBC, Buzzfeed and the Washington Post, among its clients, Newswhip is already getting noticed across the digital media trade. The five-year-old company helps its customers track the stories and social media content that will go viral online within a short time of their publication.

11. Currencyfair

Meyers Currencyfair CEO Brett Meyers Mark Stedman / Mark Stedman / /

The Dublin-based fintech darling has been in full-blown expansion mode, launching its app, taking on more funding and going on a hiring spree as it tries to take an ever-larger bite out of the peer-to-peer currency exchange business.

This year it plans to make a play for the US, although it faces stiff competition from other online currency traders like Kilkenny-based TransferMate and London’s Transferwise.

12. Nuritas


The award-winning NovaUCD spinout uses data analysis to efficiently identify beneficial peptides – naturally occurring molecules that can have positive health properties – in food products. It recently got the backing of international investors as it continues to make inroads in the huge global market for so-called ‘functional food’.

13. Opsh

Opsh Homepage Sample

Started by the three McGinn sisters, Ireland’s upstart answer to the likes of ASOS is now making a push into the UK. The online clothes, accessories and beauty shop differs from many international rivals in that it holds no stock – instead acting as a magazine-style intermediary for buyers.

14. Blanco Niño

90382040 Mark Stedman / Mark Stedman / /

The tortilla business set up by Little Ass Burrito Bar founder Philip Martin last year started shipping from Europe’s first authentic Mexican-style tortilla factory, which is located in the unlikely surrounds of Clonmel, Co Tipperary.

In 2016, the young businessman will be hoping people’s appetites for the corn-based products remain strong.

15. Clavis Insight

Clavis YouTube YouTube

Another company that took on a major chunk of funding last year, the Dublin-based software outfit raised $20 million to double its workforce. It already counts the 10 largest packaged goods makers – multinationals like Unilever and Nestlé – among the customers using its online “mystery shopper” services.

16. 3D4Medical

Capture YouTube YouTube

It has been an eventful year at the Dublin-headquartered designer of anatomical apps for the medical trade. The former stock-image company’s software was shown off at several high-profile Apple events, including its new iPhone and iPad Pro launch, while it also got a major funding boost and opened its fifth office, this time in Poland.

Think we’ve missed someone important? Give us your thoughts in the comments section.

READ: Ireland may have big entrepreneurial dreams – but we’re still wedded to the boss’s chequebook >

READ: ‘College is a good bit away’: Ireland’s brightest young minds are meeting today >

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