What makes NDRC a good incubator?

What makes NDRC a good incubator looking from the perspective of an entrepreneur?

I was going about minding my own business and then the following headline caught my eye.

NDRC ranked no. 2 University Business Accelerator in the world by UBI Global Index.

This motivated me to find out about NDRC. What is it and what does it do? Furthermore, I got interested in UBI global. What is the methodology used to rank these university associated/university-affiliated incubators and how is NDRC doing so well in the ranking.

Established in 2007, NDRC used to be the National Digital Research Centre. Now-a-days they do not conduct researches and hence refer to themselves as NDRC: Making Ventures Happen. It was founded by a consortium of third-level institutions: University College Dublin, Dublin City University, Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology, the National College of Art & Design, and Trinity College Dublin. Each year, they work with c. 1000 individuals and invest in around 20 -30 early stage technology start –ups. Till date they have invested in over 150 ventures at the pre-seed stage. It invests primarily using an accelerator model through its NDRC Launchpad for start-up with a business model innovation, NDRC VentureLab for start-up with a piece of technology and associated IP or NDRC Catalyser for start-up with deep research-based know-how.

My search for UBI Global led me to their website .It is Stockholm -based company which does performance analysis of business incubation around the world. It is the only rating that compares the productivity of business incubators around the world. In 2015, more than 500 business incubators from 73 countries in six geographic regions took part in UBI Global. Only 330 out of 64 countries were recommended for benchmarking. The main areas of the incubators’ specialization were  IT (39%), social issues (13%), environmental technology (8%) and biotechnology (7%).

Looking at their methodology, UBI ranks incubators productivity by measuring 60 different metrics against that fall under three main factors:

  • What kind of impact the incubator has on the local ecosystem?
  • What type of value is given to the client e.g. skill development and access to market and funding?
  • What is the attractive quotient of incubator itself such as income, number of partners, number of events held, etc. – as well as the performance of current ventures and alumni e.g. survival rate, jobs created , volume of investments raised, acquisitions etc.

Comparing NDRC’s approach to methodology provides a view as to how successful NDRC is able to meet the requirements for rankings.

It has a huge impact on the start-up ecosystem in Ireland. E.g. In 2014, co-founder of UBI Global, Dhruv Bhatli, said “NDRC is one of the top business incubators in the world that provides good value to its portfolio companies and generates exceptional economic impact on the region.

As the first and most elaborate benchmark of university business incubators UBI Index includes incubators affiliated with most of the top Universities in the world, notable participants originate from Columbia, Oxford, University of Pennsylvania and Imperial College. In this context NDRC performs much better than their peers at the above mentioned top universities.”

In addition, NDRC places importance on intensive mentoring and high touch approach to provide value to the start-ups. It provides the following to the start-ups to help them deliver results:

  • Micro-seed investment of up to €30k per venture
  • Mentorship in disciplines such as Company Financials , Investor Readiness, Marketing, PR and Business Model Innovation
  • 12 weeks of work with various other start-ups, innovators and investors
  • Weekly workshops and networking with acknowledged thought leaders

Furthermore, NDRC had an excellent track record in 2014. It’s portfolio of start-up ventures secured a cumulative €88m in follow-on investment with a combined market capitalisation of approx. €220m. It had a positive balance sheet and includes a return of more than eight fold financial returns from their investment. There were 311 full-time, 131 part-time and 95 overseas jobs created in the portfolio of NDRC. Large companies such as Microsoft, State Street and Accenture have partnered with them. Also, NDRC secured a second fund from the Irish Government in 2013 which shows the renewing commitment of the government to fulfil their multi-year agreement.

Upon my further research through their website , leads me to a conclusion that a start-up can benefit a lot by working closely with NDRC. Its excellent mentorship and learning programmes can help a start-up to sharpen their business model and connect them to the right resources. It can help a start-up to focus on the process and provide a beneficial environment and culture.


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