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Five NI business founders join mentorship programme backed by U2’s The Edge

Five founders of Northern Ireland’s most exciting start-ups have been selected to take part in a mentorship programme backed by U2’s The Edge.

The companies, which all specialise in different tech sectors, were picked by Endeavour Ireland, a global not-for-profit organisation, with an aim “to support and accelerate high-impact entrepreneurs by connecting them with talent, capital and a worldwide peer and mentor network.”

The company’s board includes Rosaleen Blair, deputy chair of Kainos and hotelier Paddy McKillen, with rockstar The Edge holding the role of founding chair.

The rocker, real name David Howell Evans, joined Endeavour in 2018, after stating that U2 had been examining how to use their influence to help Irish businesses and founders.

He told the Irish Times upon taking the role of founding chair that he had “hoped the initiative would be another part of U2’s legacy” in that it would help create the next generation of Irish CEOs.

The five founders selected include Belfast-born Ryan Donnelly, co-founder of AI governance platform Enzai, which has been described as Northern Ireland’s first possible unicorn (a company worth a billion pounds).

The start-up, which was born in Belfast’s Ormeau Baths, made headlines last year after it raised $4million in funding in just over two years.

Laura Haldane, the co-founder of data source software company SciLead has also been picked by the company as one of the NI founders to receive the honour.

Ms Haldane is also one of the mentors involved in Women in Business Northern Ireland.

The final three spots have been filled by Mark Dowds, CEO of Responsible, a company which campaigns for fashion sustainability, Roger Johnston, the founder of Axial3D which offers 3D solutions for medical surgeries and Greg Maguire, the founder of Humain, a video game development company.

All five founders and their companies will now participate in a five-month programme that will include 10 one-on-one mentorships tailored to their specific needs.

The inaugural session of the programme was held at the KPMG office in Belfast this week. KPMG is one of Endeavor Ireland’s corporate partners.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Managing Director of Endeavor Ireland, Rory Guinan, said: “Endeavor is a not-for-profit organisation with a focus on supporting entrepreneurs with high-impact potential to scale up, and to ultimately provide a societal benefit for the island of Ireland.

“The mission for Endeavor Ireland has always been an all-island one, but while we have engaged with some great founders in Northern Ireland since we established in 2019, none of the companies that have advanced to become Endeavor Entrepreneurs are from Northern Ireland, and that’s why we chose to focus on founders in this area as part of our second Scale Up Programme,” he added.

“We had a great response to the call for applications and have been blown away by the founders selected for this programme.

“This programme will provide them with mentorship and advice to help create a lasting impact for their companies and for their communities.”

Source: Belfast Telegraph