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ISEF 2017

On April 4th at 5pm, ISEF will welcome the country's brightest student startups to present their businesses to some of Ireland's most established investors and business leaders at the Aviva Stadium. With an exciting line-up of guest speakers, a highly experienced panel of judges and four highly innovative startup finalists, ISEF 2017 is not be missed. Registration is now closed.

Guest Speakers

Denis O'Brien

Denis O'Brien is Chairman of the privately-owned Digicel Group, one of the fastest growing telecommunications providers in the world operating in 32 countries in the Caribbean, Central America and the Asia Pacific Region. Mr. O’Brien has a wide number of investments in several sectors including media, property, leisure and industrial services. He is a former recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Denis O’Brien founded the Esat Telecom Group plc and built it throughout the 1990’s until its sale to British Telecom plc for € 2.4 billion. Read more...

Outside of his extensive business interests, Denis chaired the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland. It was the first time the Summer Games were staged outside the US with teams from 160 countries and over 30,000 volunteers. Denis is a Director on the US Board of Concern Worldwide and a member of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development. He also chairs the Clinton Global Initiative Haiti Action Network and was appointed to the Special Olympics International Board of Directors in 2016.

In addition, he is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Frontline, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders which is based in Dublin. In 2000 he established The Iris O’Brien Foundation to identify and assist projects in Ireland and internationally which aim to alleviate disadvantaged communities.

Denis holds a BA degree from University College Dublin and an MBA from Boston College.


Joanne Geary

Joanne Geary is the Group Director of Marketing & Business Development for Sherry FitzGerald Group. She is an experienced Strategic Business Development, Marketing and Communications Director advising the Board and Senior management team of Sherry FitzGerald Group, on initiatives relating to the strategic marketing, digital innovation, branding and business development. Joanne is a regular spokesperson for the Group and media commentator. She has an MBS and BComm from UCC. Joanne will be discussing digital transformation and the many opportunities of the future.

The Prize

The winner of this year’s competition will be receiving a €4,000 cash prize, as well as a private meeting with Bill Liao to carry out a strategic analysis of the business.

Bill Liao

Bill Liao is the European Investment Partner at SOSV, investing in, supporting and mentoring companies and startups at all stages of growth. Bill Founded SOSV’s biotech practice and runs RebelBio in Europe.

Bill has a wealth of experiences, both in the public and private sectors. A co-founder of CoderDojo, a free global network formed to assist young people with learning computer programming, Bill also co-founded XING, a pioneering enterprise social networking platform. Prior to these endeavours, Bill served as COO of Davnet, a telecommunications carrier.

Bill has also distinguished himself as a diplomat, serving as a special diplomatic envoy for St Kitt’s and Nevis, with an emphasis on sustainable development and the environment. Author of three books, he is a regular speaker at many events and venues such as The London School of Economics, The World Economic Forum, The Globe Forum in Sweden, The House of Commons and TED as well as TEDx. He is Founder of WeForest that has planted over 9 million trees globally.




Delve is an emotional management app that helps people manage their emotions more effectively. This is delivered through on-the-spot exercises and workout programmes that are specifically designed to the user, suited for any situation during their demanding day.

Combining scientifically backed research drawing from the areas of Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Emotional Intelligence, Delve utilises technology to provide what the user needs, when they need it.

Delve changes perceptions, enhances understanding and stimulates action. Our mission is to make exercising your mind as universal as exercising your body.

It’s time to discover you.




Recroot is a video-based recruitment platform which focuses on hourly employment for the hospitality and retail sectors. We simply replace the CV with a 30-second video.  

We found that the issue with hourly employment is not whether an applicant has experience, but whether they have an amiable personality. The 30-second video provides jobseekers with a means to convey their personalities and stand out to employers.

We are currently carrying out our pilot with Base WFP, Starbucks, Crowne Plaza, and Clontarf Castle



Inceno is an Irish startup established in 2016 as a hospitality software firm. It was founded to solve consumer and hospitality sector needs. Our mission is to build an individually tailored, customer & food centred community that is brought together through mutual need for trust, transparency and pristine quality. We offer consumers and managers a means of verifying restaurant reviews and will continue to produce new, innovative solutions to assist and aid the hospitality sector..

We have a working prototype and are currently building the verification system to bring it to market in late 2017.



GiveBack.ie is a social enterprise that aims to end homelessness in Ireland through passive crowd fundraising. Our online platform allows users to give back to Irish homelessness charities simply by shopping online, at no additional cost to them. When you make a purchase at any supported retailer, a percentage of your total spend will go towards helping homeless people in need. It's a fully automated, passive process that enables the everyday philanthropist from the comfort of their own sofa. Just shop online as you normally would, and we'll handle the rest


Anne Heraty


Anne Heraty is CEO of Cpl Resources plc., a recognised leader in workforce solutions, specialist recruitment, managed services and outsourcing.  With an annual turnover in excess of €433 million, the company has over 670 permanent employees. In any one week Cpl also has over 12,000 temp/contract staff under management in customer sites.   Her company has grown through both strong organic growth and strategic acquisitions.   Most recently, Anne won the Business & Finance ‘Business Person of the Year 2014’ and her company was ranked as ‘Best Place to Work 2016’ in the large organisation category.  Anne is the President of Ibec and also the Chair of judging panel for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Ireland. Anne Heraty will chair the panel of judges at ISEF 2017.


Sean Gallagher

Sean is recognised nationally as a champion for small business and job creation. He is the CEO and co-founder of Clyde Real Estate, a leading property company focused on serving the accommodation needs of indigenous Irish companies, large corporates and multinational firms seeking to establish and expand operations in Ireland. Previously, in 2002, Sean co-founded a company which specialised in manufacturing and installing cabling and technology systems into new residential homes. 'Smarthomes' went on to become Ireland's largest home technology company.

In 2008, Sean was announced as an investor on RTE's Dragon's Den, and he continued as a Dragon in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 series. Dragon's Den provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to a panel of seasoned investors, who as well as offering expert advice and guidance, also invest money in some of the startups. Read more...

Sean has also demonstrated his commitment to supporting emerging businesses, starting almost 20 years ago when he first began training entrepreneurs as A/CEO with the national network of County Enterprise Boards. During his career, Sean has mentored hundreds of startups and emerging entrepreneurs. In 2008 he was appointed by the Irish Government to the board of Intertrade Ireland, and he has also served as Chair of the Board's Equity Network initiative, helping to promote Venture Capital and Business Angel investment in early stage businesses.  

Sean is also a business writer with the Sunday Independent, Ireland's largest selling newspaper with a readership of almost 1 million people. Each week. he profiles successful entrepreneurs and inspiring role models in business who share with him the lessons they have learned about everything from strategy and innovation, to focus, leadership and resilience. Sean hopes that these stories will help inform, empower and inspire others to become the next generation of entrepreneurs and job creators.


Ian Duffy


Ian is Chairman of number of high growth companies including Everseen, XSDirect, Score Music Interactive (Xhail), One Posting and Accelerated Payments. He has significant expertise and experience in supporting the promoters and management of high growth companies to develop and deliver their respective strategies. He also assists and supports the fund raising of capital and debt for these and other companies and has a particular interest in the technology, cleantech and alternative energy sectors. Ian has been involved in a number of successful exits for investors and shareholders of private companies including FeedHenry (of which he was Chairman).

Ian completed a B.A in Maths and Engineering at Trinity College Dublin, has a diploma in Applied finance from the IMI and is a member of the Institute of Directors in Ireland where he recently successfully completed the IOD’s Chartered Director course.


Jeanne Bolger, MB BCh BAO

Vice President, Venture Investments


Jeanne Bolger, MB BCh BAO, Vice President, Venture Investments, joined Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JJDC, Inc. (JJDC) in 2013. She is based in London, UK.

Dr. Bolger has over 25 years of pharmaceutical industry experience in management roles across R&D, Commercial and Business Development (BD). She spent 11 years in Licensing and Acquisition (L&A), most recently as Global Head of Scientific Licensing for Johnson & Johnson’s Pharmaceutical business, having joined Johnson & Johnson in 2005 from the Business Development group at GlaxoSmithKline. In 2009, Dr. Bolger became Vice President, Alliance Management at Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy, working with Pfizer and Elan. Read more...

In 2012, upon the establishment of the Innovation Centers, Dr Bolger joined J&J’s corporate venture fund, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC.  She is based in London with responsibility for investments across Europe in start-up and early stage life science companies in areas of strategic interest to J&J’s business sectors in Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology, Medical Devices and Consumer.  

Dr. Bolger received her medical degree from University College Dublin. She also holds diplomas in Child Health (NUI) and in Finance and Accounting (ACCA). She is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Ireland (RAMI). Dr. Bolger has served as the sole pharma industry representative on two Irish government taskforces seeking to enhance the commercialization of IP from Irish academic centres. She is a visiting lecturer on the MSc Pharmaceutical Medicine curriculum at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.


Terrence O'Rourke


Terence was appointed Chairman of Enterprise Ireland in August 2013 and was previously Managing Partner of KPMG Ireland until his retirement from the firm in April 2013.  He is also Chairman of the Irish Management Institute, Enactus Ireland and the Social Innovation Fund Ireland. He is a director of Hibernia REIT plc since its flotation in December 2013 and joined the board of the Irish Times Limited in May 2013.

Terence joined KPMG Ireland in 1975, became an audit partner in 1988 and was elected Managing Partner in 2006.  He was also a member of KPMG International’s Global Board, Global Executive Team and EMA Board, from 2007 to 2013. Read more...

Terence is a Fellow, and was President in 2004/05, of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.  He was a member of the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board (2008- 2014) and is also Chairman of the Dublin Theatre Festival and a member of the boards of the Institute for International & European Affairs, the Hugh Lane Gallery, 
Dublin City University, Temple Street Foundation  and the Irish Film Institute. 

Terence graduated from University College Dublin in 1975 with a BA in Economics and History.