Two Northern Ireland firms extend partnership after successful pilot scheme

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Belfast’s Techstart Ventures’s residency at The AMP in Londonderry has proved a ‘major turning point’ for local startups

Northern Ireland early-stage technology investor Techstart Ventures has extended its partnership with The AMP after supporting several innovations at the Londonderry business growth incubator during a pilot period.

The Belfast-based firm manages funds that are part of Invest Northern Ireland’s Access to Finance suite of funds. Techstart took up residence at The AMP in Ebrington Square — the north west’s first and only privately funded incubator and co-working space — in January 2023. Since then, several of The AMP’s alumni have received valuable support, mentoring and investment from the seed investor across a range of programmes.

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March 2023 saw the partnership launch its first north west specific Proof of Concept Grant Competition — The LabTech Initiative. After a day of in-person pitches, two successful startups were each awarded a £10,000 grant to further their innovative ideas: Nupitch and Pebble.

Belfast early-stage technology investor Techstart Ventures has extended its partnership with The AMP after supporting several innovations at the Londonderry business growth incubator during a pilot period. Pictured is Ryan Williams, founder of The AMP, Christian Kotley, founder of Nupitch, Josh Corry, Investment Analyst at Techstart Ventures; and James McGarrigle, founder of PebbleBelfast early-stage technology investor Techstart Ventures has extended its partnership with The AMP after supporting several innovations at the Londonderry business growth incubator during a pilot period. Pictured is Ryan Williams, founder of The AMP, Christian Kotley, founder of Nupitch, Josh Corry, Investment Analyst at Techstart Ventures; and James McGarrigle, founder of Pebble
Belfast early-stage technology investor Techstart Ventures has extended its partnership with The AMP after supporting several innovations at the Londonderry business growth incubator during a pilot period. Pictured is Ryan Williams, founder of The AMP, Christian Kotley, founder of Nupitch, Josh Corry, Investment Analyst at Techstart Ventures; and James McGarrigle, founder of Pebble

Storyboard designer and director Christian Kotley’s Nupitch is an AI-driven presentation software for filmmakers while James McGarrigle’s Pebble is a platform for colleges and universities aiming to improve student project based Learning outcomes. Both Christian and James went on to be awarded Techstart’s £35,000 Proof of Concept Plus grant.

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Christian said: “Securing the Techstart Proof of Concept grant was pivotal. Partnering with Techstart via The AMP's LabTech Initiative proved to be a major turning point. Winning the LabTech grant at The AMP provided us with the initial funding to develop our platform. Techstart's ongoing support, including the subsequent £35k Concept Plus grant, was instrumental in securing our first beta testers and establishing partnerships to further develop our platform.”

James said: “Participating in the LabTech Initiative was a game-changer for Pebble. The support from Techstart Ventures and AMP has been instrumental in advancing Pebble from concept to reality. The £10K grant followed by the £35K Proof of Concept Plus grant and mentorship have provided us with the resources and confidence to innovate and develop a platform that can significantly enhance education via project-based learning in colleges and universities, where actual intelligence is supported by artificial intelligence. This partnership has not only validated our vision but has also connected us with a broader ecosystem of support and opportunity.”

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AMP co-founder, Ryan Williams, expressed his delight at the collaboration: “Techstart has proven to be an exceptional partner across 2023 and this affirmation is testament to the growing ecosystem in Londonderry/Derry and the north west, and to Techstart’s investment and commitment across the region.

"I am wholly confident this partnership will continue to benefit both our AMP members and alumni and continue to act as an innovative propellant to the ever-burgeoning startup and growth scene across the north west region. All the team at Techstart have been exemplary with their good will, knowledge and keenness to expand their footprint and engagement across the sector”.

Josh Corry, investment analyst at Techstart Ventures, added: “Techstart is delighted to renew its partnership with The AMP. Ryan and Kat have done a great job in building a vibrant entrepreneurial hub for startups in the north west and we are pleased to continue being a part of this community.

"Techstart is keen to support startups across the province through equity investments and Proof of Concept Grant funding, and The AMP has played a key role in connecting us with opportunities from the north west region. We look forward to continuing our collaboration and supporting the growth and success of innovative businesses throughout Northern Ireland.”

Techstart Ventures is part-funded by ERDF under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020.

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