Business Articles



All-Island AIB Start-up Academy Summit Returns to Belfast


Gearing up for the Northern Ireland stage of the AIB Start-up Academy Summit - which takes place at Life Church in Belfast on Thursday 9th February - is (from L-R): Leading hotelier and successful entrepreneur, Bill Wosley along with Des Moore Head of First Trust Bank and Diane Roberts from Xcell Partners. Bill and Diane will take part in a special panel discussion along with Eleanor McEvoy, founder of Budget Energy and Caroline Wilson from local start-up Belfast Food Tours. 


The AIB Start-up Academy Summit, the popular all-island start-up networking series, is set to return to Belfast with a bigger and better event designed to bring together local start-ups, business influencers and experts from across Northern Ireland for an evening of invaluable learning and networking opportunities.


As one of only four events across the island this year, the Belfast leg of the AIB Start-up Academy Summit will take place on the evening of Thursday 9th February at LIFE Church in Belfast, a popular Belfast venue for evening socials and events. Other events in the series are being held in Galway, Cork and Dublin.


As part of their commitment to back start-ups, AIB and First Trust Bank have developed a comprehensive programme to support entrepreneurs. Now in its third year, the AIB Start-up Academy comprises of a competition to win a place on an intensive 8-week training programme and ultimately a €200,000 prize package, a nationwide series of regional summits and tailored bootcamps - all of which have been designed to help start-ups take their business to the next level regardless of their level of experience or stage of development.


The event is free to attend and those joining the Belfast Summit can expect to meet a host of industry experts including leaders from Google, Grant Thornton and start-up specialists Xcell Partners – all of whom will be on hand to offer practical business advice. A special panel discussion will also take place with leading business personalities including Bill Wolsey, the entrepreneur behind the successful Merchant and Bullit Hotel in Belfast, Diane Roberts from Xcell Partners and Colman Equity as well as Eleanor McEvoy, founder of Budget Energy. 

While networking and enjoying refreshments (sourced from local food and drink entrepreneurs!), attendees can also sit back and hear the all-important elevator pitches from a number of selected start-ups who are currently battling it out to be crowned this year's AIB Start-up Academy winner and pick up the Academy’s coveted top prize, valued at €200,000. Ten start-ups have already been chosen for the competition and there are four remaining places up for grabs across the four summits.


Speaking about the event, Des Moore, Head of First Trust Bank said;

“We are delighted to host the second AIB Start-up Academy Summit in Belfast and believe it is a fantastic opportunity for local start-ups to network and socialise with like-minded entrepreneurs and to learn from well-known and successful business leaders. We will discuss issues important to the start-up community - whilst also sharing tips and advice from a range of experts and successful entrepreneurs about their own start-up journeys.

We want everyone who attends this evening to take away something which helps them grow their business, whether it be a nugget of information from our panel of experts, advice or a free business tool from our partners as well as a host of new business contacts.

Last year’s event was a great success and now with a bigger venue and an impressive range of experts on hand we hope to deliver an evening which is a highlight of the local start-up calendar.”


The Belfast Start-Up Academy Summit will take place on the 9th February in Life Church, Bruce Street, Belfast between 6pm and 9pm.

While free to attend, places for the event are limited and anyone who is keen to attend should register as soon as possible at to avoid disappointment.