11 August 2015

Why Dublin is working for Investors

Atlantic Bridge has offices in Dublin, London, Silicon Valley, Beijing and Hong Kong.

We are global technology investors looking for the most promising new companies to invest in. When you look at our investment portfolio, a high proportion of companies are based in Ireland, Dublin in particular. The likes of Movidius, Swrve, FieldAware and Accuris are all selling products with some serious R&D hours behind them. These are the types of investment we like, as this R&D development creates a hefty barrier to entry for competitors. Take Movidius as an example: their latest products are the culmination of ten years R&D effort. Even with deep pockets, any competitor is going to take quite a while to catch up. In the meantime, Movidius will continue to develop its own IP.

There is undoubtedly a lot of great technology being developed in Dublin – however, it does not follow that this tech will be commercialized. What Dublin has is a startup ecosystem with lots of successful entrepreneurs who act as role models and mentors – people like Chris Horn and Larry Quinn, who have offered essential advice and guidance. It is a well-known fact that successful startups spawn other startups; our research counted almost 150 startups that came out of Iona,Smartforce and Parthus, three of the most successful Irish tech startups of the 1990s and early 2000s. Indeed, two of the fastest growing Irish tech companies today (both of them Atlantic Bridge portfolio companies), Movidius and Fieldaware, can trace their roots back to these companies.

Another trait that makes Dublin startups highly investable is a willingness and ability to internationalize from early in a company’s life. In other countries and startup cultures, there is often a tendency to focus on the home market first and internationalize later: Irish companies have to look globally from day one out of necessity, as there is no home market. That suits us fine – we have always been an outward looking nation, one with a readymade network in the Irish diaspora. As a result, we tend to transition easily to Silicon Valley, still the most important place for any aspiring tech firm. Both Swrve and Movidius have had offices in Silicon Valley for a number of years, and Accuris just opened a new office there. Culturally, we are also open and mix easy with other cultures. This is important: the technology industry is global and the Irish are held in high regard.

Ultimately, our bridge strategy is quite simple to explain, but incredibly powerful for our portfolio companies. We invest in great European technology companies, and accelerate their market expansion in the US and Asian markets. When you consider that we have our pick of companies globally and can benchmark an investment opportunity against leading startups in Silicon Valley, Europe and China, it is clear that Dublin is really punching above its weight.

By Paul Murray