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25 tech start-ups from around the world that founders find inspiring

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Here’s a list of Irish and international tech start-ups that have influenced some of the entrepreneurs we’ve profiled.

Every time we speak to entrepreneurs and leaders for our Start-up of the Week series, we ask them to name the tech start-ups that they admire the most and why.

From big established companies that have come a long way since seed stage to budding and ambitious Irish start-ups jumping on the boat to foreign shores, founders are inspired by the success of companies at all stages and from a variety of sectors.

Future Human

Here are 24 start-up companies from around the world that have a fan-following among tech entrepreneurs.

AuriGen Medical

AuriGen has developed a heart implant meant to treat both the stroke and arrhythmia risk associated with atrial fibrillation, or AFib.

Founded in 2016, the company is led by Tony O’Halloran and Dr John Thompson. The BioInnovate Ireland spin-out, based in Galway, raised €2.5m from the EU Horizon 2020 SME Instrument funding scheme in 2018.

Bolt

One of the bigger names in European mobility, Bolt is an Estonian start-up that raised a whopping €628m in January in what became its largest funding round to date.

Now valued at €7.4bn, the company operates e-scooter and e-bike rental schemes, taxi-hailing and car-sharing services, as well as food delivery. It launched in Ireland in December 2020 to compete with taxi rivals FreeNow and Uber. Luke Mackey, Bolt’s country manager for Ireland was namechecked by Tracworx co-founder and CEO Chris Kelly for his “success and work ethic”.

Boson Protocol

Boson Protocol is a blockchain company that enables commerce transactions in the metaverse. Built for creators, communities and merchants, Boson Protocol’s products aim to make the exchange of digital assets for physical products, services and experiences easier.

Founded in 2019, the London-based company has created a marketplace called Boson Portal in Decentraland which, according to Fortune, has attracted names such as Tommy Hilfiger, Hogan, and others that sell NFTs linked to physical products.

Boundless

Boundless is looking to take the hard work out of remote people operations by allowing companies to quickly and easily employ people in other countries. The start-up has developed a platform that allows businesses to manage multi-country payroll, tax filings and HR compliance, among other things.

Founded by Dee Coakley (who recently spoke at Future Human), Eamon Leonard and Emily Castles, Boundless raised €2.5m in seed funding last year. PlantQuest’s co-founder and CEO Ger Carton is a huge fan of Boundless and told SiliconRepublic.com it enabled him to “hire the right talent for my company”.

CANTAB

Originally developed at the University of Cambridge, the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) is a research-based start-up that has developed software to study human cognition. The language-independent and culturally neutral platform includes sensitive and precise measures of cognitive functions in adults corelated to neural networks.

Clarifai

This AI-powered facial recognition company has been hailed as a “frontrunner” in this emerging space by Legitify’s co-founder and chief product officer Arko Ganguli. Founded in New York almost a decade ago, Clarifai uses computer vision and machine learning to identify and analyse images and videos, offering a suite of services to developers, businesses and governments.

Cogstate

Founded in 1999, Cogstate is on a mission to democratise brain health assessment in clinical settings. The Australian company provides rapid and highly sensitive cognitive tests to replace expensive paper-based assessments. To date the health-tech has conducted more than 2,000 clinical trials and administered more than 2m tests.

CropSafe

Irish-founded CropSafe made waves only weeks ago after raising $3m in seed funding to expand its farming data platform. CropSafe’s platform helps with farm management by letting users create alerts and use real-time modules to monitor various topics that are important to their farm, from weather to crop health.

The start-up was founded in Northern Ireland but has now opened a headquarters in Los Angeles, sowing the seed for further growth in the US market. Legitimate co-founder Caoimhe Donnelly said they “really admire” the CropSafe founders. “We love that they had such determination to go to the US in order to raise more interest and attract funding.”

ID-Pal

A previous SiliconRepublic.com Start-up of the Week, ID-Pal is a Dublin-based identity verification company that aims to help companies combat fraud with tech. It provides businesses in Ireland, the UK, the US and Europe with remote identity and address verification using biometric, facial matching, liveness testing, address verification and document checks.

ID-Pal, which counts among its clients AIB Merchant Services, Elavon, Fexco and Mercer, raised €1m in 2020 to accelerate its global expansion, and officially launched in the UK last month.

Inferex

Founded by former BT Young Scientist winner and Cork native Greg Tarr, Inferex is a start-up based on his project to put powerful computing power to work detecting deepfakes. Its services are targeted at government agencies in the US concerned about weaponised deepfakes, with the ultimate goal to enable large-scale deployment of AI.

The company has raised more than $1m in seed funding from investors in Ireland and Europe.

MagGrow

Dublin-based MagGrow is an agritech start-up which develops crop-protection tech that can reduce the waste associated with conventional pesticide spray applications, while also achieving a reduction in water usage and labour.

Founded in 2013 at NovaUCD, MagGrow now has operations across Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and more. It raised €6m in a Series A funding round in August 2020.

Manna

Manna is an Irish drone delivery start-up that has been reaching new heights rapidly since it began building and testing delivery drones in 2019. Led by Bobby Healy, Manna has a fleet of uncrewed aerial vehicles that can deliver food and other goods in suburban areas. Last month, the company announced a major expansion in Balbriggan, Dublin and 50 new jobs, according to a Newstalk report.

Strikepay CEO and co-founder Oli Cavanagh said Healy is doing something “wildly innovative and succeeding where the likes of Amazon failed”, while Martin Fitzgerald, CEO and co-founder of Kwayga said Manna is at the cutting edge of a global race in Drone delivery. “They also have the coolest product videos anywhere!”

Motoklik

Founded in 2018, Motoklik is a Kilkenny-based motorsport tech start-up that has built an electronic device that uses artificial intelligence to inform motorcycle racers of the best suspension set-up for current track conditions. Backed by the European Space Agency, the device links to Motoklik’s motorcycle suspension position monitoring system via a mobile app. The start-up raised €300,000 in seed funding in March last year.

PlantQuest’s Carton said he admires Motoklik co-founder Jens Köpke because he “is truly following his passion in motocross and has just relocated to Benelux to be closer to his market”.

MyMilkman.ie

Just when we thought the days of milkmen delivering milk to people’s doorsteps were over, Irish start-up MyMilkman.ie is bringing the trend back with online milk and other related products such as juice, butter, eggs and cheese, delivery services with just a few clicks and taps.

“It’s a super simple concept that links dairy delivery in your location to deliver products on your schedule,” said John Hannon, CEO and founder of Sales Tier (formerly Gain Grain).

Neurent Medical

This Galway medtech has developed a device called Neuromark, which is designed to treat chronic rhinitis safely and effectively from the comfort of an ENT’s office.

In January 2021, the medtech raised $25m in a Series B round to fund its expansion into the US, where it eventually received FDA approval last November. Founded by Brian Shields and David Townley, Neurent is also a BioInnovate spin-out.

Noloco

Noloco helps developers build custom web apps faster and without using code. It was founded this year by CEO Simon Curran from Dublin and CTO Darragh Mc Kay from Wicklow. Noloco’s customers include digital marketing agencies, accountants and SMEs looking to centralise and automate client interactions.

Vyra co-founder and product lead Luke Faga said the Noloco founders are “a great example of how an offering can change in relation to true problems and pain points in organisations, not perceived problems”.

OneProjects

OneProjects is an Irish-German medtech that develops 4D cardiac imaging technology. Last October, the medial device start-up raised $17m to support the development of its Verafeye technology, which is designed to treat AFib.

Verafeye uses advanced imaging and data analytics in conjunction with its catheter-based sensor system to provide 4D data from within the heart, with the aim to increase the efficacy and safety of treatment.

Ostoform

Based in Co Westmeath, Ostoform is a medtech start-up that manufactures medical seals for use with patients who have received a colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy.

Founded by CEO Kevin Kelleher along with Rhona Hunt in 2016, Ostoform raised €3m in private equity funding in October last year. In February, the company featured in a Health Innovation Hub Ireland list of Irish companies disrupting the health-tech sector with new innovations.

Property Bridges

Property Bridges is an online marketplace for property finance. It helps construction professionals to raise finance fast, and investors to access secured property loans. To date, it has loaned more than €20m to customers using the platform. The start-up was one of nine participants in NDRC’s first ArcLabs accelerator in Waterford.

ProVerum

Trinity College Dublin spin-out ProVerum is developing technology to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is an enlargement of the prostate gland that causes difficulty with urination.

The medtech, which raised €30m in Series A funding in January, has built a device called ProVee, which gently re-shapes the enlarged prostate to alleviate the symptoms caused by BPH. ProVerum was also namechecked by Nua Surgical’s Barry McCann as having “done extremely well” in terms of funding rounds and European grants.

SeedLegals

According to Legitify’s Ganguli, UK-based SeedLegals has been a frontrunner in the legal-tech space, resolving “inefficiencies which had plagued companies and investors alike”.

First launched in 2016, the SeedLegals platform, founded by Laurent Laffy and serial tech entrepreneur Anthony Rose, aims to automate the legal aspects of funding rounds. Last month, it was reported that it had assisted start-ups in closing more than £1bn in funding for UK companies.

Vaultree

Cork-based Vaultree is a cybersecurity company that is looking to build scalable, privacy-enhancing tech and encryption-as-a-service tools. Its platform uses enhanced searchable symmetric encryption and fully homomorphic encryption technologies to help highly regulated organisations access and use their data without having to reveal encryption keys or the data content to a tech or cloud provider.

Founded in 2020 by a team of engineers and tech professionals and launched late last year, the start-up raised $3.3m seed funding in November. John Ward, CEO and co-founder of ServBlock said: “The guys over at Vaultree are doing an amazing job, it’s great to see an Irish start-up hit it off stateside from the get go. Maxim and the guys seem bound to go on to great things.”

Viotas

Viotas, formerly known as Electricity Exchange, is a smart grid technology company that facilitates customer transitions to renewable energy. Founded in 2013 by Paddy Finn and Duncan O’Toole as a joint venture with Bord Na Móna, its technology allows clients to integrate renewable energy sources and to pool additional electricity loads through a power system operator. The company opened its first international office in Melbourne in 2020 and announced an additional 60 jobs.

WorkCompass

WorkCompass is a HR software company founded by Denis Coleman in 2012. It aims to make performance coaching part of everyday working life and said it has worked with more than 1,000 organisations around the world.

Kwayga’s Fitzgerald said said he admires it as a company because it is “scaling in an under the radar manor, but is a great business in the HR performance management space”.

Workvivo

Employee communications software platform Workvivo was founded in Cork by Joe Lennon and John Goulding in 2018 to promote a ‘digital-first work culture’. Pitching itself as “the employee experience app that brings your entire company together”, Workvivo has bagged some big clients including Amazon, Telus International and VMware.

Fitzgerald also namechecked Workvivo as a company he admires because saying it has a “great team, a great product in a quickly scaling market”.

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Linux 6.0 debuts, missing some Rusty bits • The Register

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Emperor Penguin Linus Torvalds has released the first release candidate for Linux 6.0, but doesn’t mind what you call it.

“After I had already decided to call this kernel 6.0, a few Chinese developers piped up and pointed out that ‘5.20’ is a more wholesome version of the Western ‘4.20’ internet-famous number,” he wrote in his announcement that Linux 6.0 rc1 has been released.

“4.20” is a reference to a day on which some celebrate marijuana, while “5.20” does likewise for magic mushrooms.

“So if you want to call this ‘Linux 5.20’, go right ahead,” Torvalds wrote.

“Because the kernel version numbers really are entirely made up and have no intrinsic meaning.”

That this week’s release has the 6.0 label is still nice to know, as discussion on the Linux kernel mailing list in recent weeks used 5.20 and 6.0 interchangeably.

As The Register has already reported, the release does not make major changes to the kernel but does include many useful updates – such as more RISC-V support, code to drive Intel’s Gaudi accelerators, and improved ACPI handling.

Torvalds lamented some Rust-enabling code didn’t make it into the release.

“I actually was hoping that we’d get some of the first rust infrastructure, and the multi-gen LRU VM, but neither of them happened this time around,” he mused, before observing “There’s always more releases.”

“This is one of those releases where you should not look at the diffstat too closely, because more than half of it is yet another AMD GPU register dump,” he added, noting that Intel’s Gaudi2 Ai processors are also likely to produce plenty of similar kernel additions.

“The CPU people also show up in the JSON files that describe the perf events, but they look absolutely tiny compared to the ‘asic_reg’ auto-generated GPU and AI hardware definitions,” he added.

The release includes 13,099 changed files, 1,280,295 insertions and 341,210 deletions. Torvalds calculated those numbers “just because I was curious and looked.”

He wants you to be curious too – or at least curious enough to test the kernel, because that’s what release candidates are for and this one contains at least one active bug. ®

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Tinder is the most hated app in Ireland

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Ireland is one of 19 countries worldwide that strongly dislikes Tinder. One in five Tweets by Irish people about all apps are negative.

According to Electronics Hub’s analysis of the most hated apps in the world, Tinder is the most loathed app in Ireland.

Irish people are not alone in their hatred for the dating app. Tinder was the most hated app in 19 countries in total, with Canadians, Americans, Nigerians, Kenyans and our neighbours in the UK also singling it out as their least favourite.

Electronics Hub determined the most hated apps in each country by analysing Twitter data. It processed more than 3m geotagged tweets related to 87 social media, dating, mobile games, entertainment, cryptocurrency and money transfer apps.

Researchers calculated the percentage of tweets about each app that were negative using a sentiment analysis tool which identifies whether a tweet has positive, negative or neutral sentiment.

Infographic of the most hated apps in the world by country.

Click to enlarge and see the most hated apps in the world by country. Infographic: Electronics Hub

Ireland was found to be one of the most negative countries when it came to attitudes towards apps. One in five Tweets posted by Irish people about apps were negative, Electronics Hub found.

Despite Irish people’s professed loathing for Tinder, the dating platform tried to play a role in keeping daters safe in the pandemic. It hooked up with the HSE to promote vaccines by adding badges to users’ profiles.

Tinder was only the second-most hated app in the world, with Roblox taking first place. More than 20 countries said the child-targeted gaming app was their most hated app. Other unpopular apps include Snapchat, Disney and Reddit.

Neighbouring countries tend to dislike similar apps, with the Scandinavians professing a dislike for Reddit and South Americans hating e-commerce apps.

Dating apps, meanwhile, are disliked the world over. In Iraq, 71.4pc of all tweets about Tinder are negative, which is the highest out of any country. A state-by-state breakdown of the most hated apps in North America also found Tinder took the top spot in 21 states.

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‘A sweatshop in the UK’: how the cost of living crisis triggered walkouts at Amazon | Industrial action

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Amazon workers say they are working in a “sweatshop” as safety concerns and worries about the cost of living crisis have triggered walkouts at warehouses around the country.

The Observer has spoken to four staff involved in the walkouts, who work at three Amazon warehouses, including Tilbury in Essex, where protests began on 4 August. All say they will struggle to survive this winter with pay rise offers between 35p and 50p an hour – far less than the rate of inflation, which is currently at 9.4%.

The workers, who spoke anonymously for fear of reprisals from Amazon, said they were speaking out to highlight how the firm’s ultra-cheap, ultra-convenient, super-fast delivery model works.

Amazon employs more than 70,000 people in the UK, adding 25,000 staff in 2021 alone. Many work at the company’s 21 fulfilment centres, where some workers say they are asked to carry out long, physical shifts, with difficult targets, for low pay.

Starting pay in Amazon warehouses will shortly be increasing to between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour, depending on location. An Amazon spokesperson said this was a 29% increase in the minimum hourly wage paid to staff since 2018. They said it is also augmented by a comprehensive benefits package worth thousands of pounds a year, and a company pension plan.

But staff say it is too low for the type of work being done and given the current economic crisis, especially at a company that just posted $121bn (£100bn) in revenues in the second quarter of 2022 alone.

“When we heard the news, it was shocking,” said one worker at Amazon’s warehouse in Tilbury. “It’s ridiculous. Inflation is [forecast to reach] 13%, and our salary increases barely 3%.” The worker rents a house with her husband for £1,350 a month without bills. “My salary is £1,600. … I’m lucky I’m married, otherwise I’d be homeless.”

Some staff are seeking a pay rise of £2 an hour from the tech giant.

Hundreds of Amazon employees stop working over disputed pay rise – video

Another worker at Amazon’s warehouse in Tilbury said they were “petrified” about how they would survive this winter. “We had a scenario recently where someone was living in [an] Amazon [warehouse],” he said. “If I’m honest, I can probably see that happening again.

“I can see people staying in the canteen all the time because they can’t afford to go home.”

The worker is protesting against the poor pay offer, as well as conditions that lock staff in cages for entire shifts at the warehouses, from where they pick items to be delivered to customers. (Amazon says the workstations are to protect workers from moving robotics.)

“It’s a Chinese sweatshop in the UK,” said the second worker at Tilbury. “It’s how they set up their model.”

The worker has struggled with his mental health while working for the company. “I’ve realised how bad Amazon is for my mental health,” he said. “The anxiety of going into work, knowing you’ve got to do the same stuff day in, day out, is horrible.”

That concern is echoed by a worker at an Amazon facility near Bristol, who has worked there with his wife for three years. “It was good initially,” the worker said. “There was a lot of safety consciousness, and the targets were pretty reasonable. But now they’re just pushing it higher and higher, and exploiting people.”

Around 100 Amazon staff at Bristol staged a sit-in at the company canteen on 10 August – action for which they say they were docked pay by management at the site. “The vast majority of people went back to work at that point, because at the end of the day, as much as they want to fight for it, they have to think about themselves financially.”

The Bristol warehouse worker says that managers used to stop employees from lifting heavy items from bins on high shelves in the warehouse without a ladder. “If you overstretched yourself for 10 hours, you’d end up with a bad neck and a bad back,” he said.

That has subsequently changed as staff said they felt pressured to meet ever-escalating demand. Staff pushing carts around the warehouse used to be limited to using one cart at a time for safety reasons; now it is claimed managers turn a blind eye to staff pulling two carts at once. “They don’t say nothing because all they care about is getting the work done as fast as possible,” he said. “Safety just goes out the window.”

He says he has personally lifted items weighing up to 25kg by himself, despite rules saying anything heavier than 15kg should be lifted by two people.

A worker at an Amazon facility in the north-west of England said that managers at his warehouse similarly ignored rules around not running on site and lifting down heavy items from high areas in an attempt to meet targets, which at his site require two items to be picked every minute.

Amazon declined to respond to specific claims.

Martha Dark, director at Foxglove, a non-profit organisation working to highlight issues within tech companies that supports Amazon workers, said: “None of the workers we’re supporting wanted to protest.

“They’re desperate and can’t survive on these wages. Meanwhile, Amazon threatens to dock pay and send workers to HR for revealing the truth about life in the warehouse.”

She added: “Amazon needs to respect workers’ rights to organise, stop penalising people who are fighting to survive and provide a real pay rise now.”

Two workers said they plan to leave the company because of the conditions and pay. However, some hope to stay put – to change things.

“If a lot of us who are experienced leave Amazon at this point they’ll get a new group of people in who they can mould into this depressing way of work,” said the Bristol worker. “That’s the problem.”

This article was amended on 14 August 2022. Inflation is at 9.4%, not 13% as stated in an earlier version; the latter is a forecast rate.

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