3 Minutes. 2 Rounds. 1 upSTART Winner

upSTART, the startup pitch competition that brings together a whole host of top UK, Irish and European tech startups, Investors, judges is BACK for 2018. Now in its third year, upSTART once again returns to Ireland’s annual leading business and tech two-day conference, Digital DNA which hosts​ over 3,000 delegates from across the world in Belfast City, Northern Ireland.

Hosted by Startacus, the one-day competition will play out in 2 rounds, starting with approx 25 disruptive startups and culminating with 1 eventual winner.

The startups will also be given the opportunity to exhibit their startup for the whole two days of the event, take part in a post-event investor and judges networking social, as well as pre-arranged 1-2-1 investor meetings.

There will be a £5k cash prize to the winning startup, plus a whole host of prizes.



From machine learning, deep learning, through to forecasting and bots, we are looking for disruptive startups that have the potential to transform industry sectors and marketplaces using AI.

Cyber Security

From security, blockchain, data protection, compliance, privacy, through to big data analytics, we welcome applications from startups from various industry disciplines who have the potential to make the world a safer and more secure place.


From alternative finance, blockchain, financial inclusion, Insurance through to lending and the customer experience we are looking for startups that investors could bank on being the next big thing.

IoT / Wearables

From wearable technology, VR, connected hardware, connected cities, through to the use of AI, we are looking for applications from innovative startups that can demonstrate market potential.


From client relationship management, data management and visualisation through to compliance and governance we are looking for innovative data startups across all industry sectors that have the potential to scale.


From business applications, gamification, accounting, collaboration, customer relationship management, messaging software, through to talent acquisition and HR services, we are looking for startups who have clearly identified a clear software enterprise industry gap and route to market.


From gaming, entertainment, education, training through to art, design and conceptualisation we are keen to gain applications from startups who are aiming to make their VR or AR focused business a reality.


From healthTech, lawtech, martech through to tech-for-good we are interested in hearing from innovative startups who don’t necessarily fall into one or more of the above specific verticals.


What we will be looking for . . .

  • AI, Data, AR and VR, Fintech, Wearable Tech / IoT, Cyber Security, SaaS with additional wildcard entries selected that demonstrated innovation and high-growth potential.
  • Both pre and post-investment startups (under £750k) will be eligible to apply
  • Startups must be able to clearly demonstrate how their innovation has the potential to disrupt the marketplace.
  • Applications open Tuesday 10th April

Exhibit at our Event

Alongside the opportunity to pitch your start up at Digital DNA this year, start ups can apply to exhibit on a pod in the dedicated upSTART area, network with sponsors and be part of the buzz and excitement with dedicated upSTART podcasts, studio sessions and sponsor interviews.

Sponsor Our Event

We are currently seeking collaborative sponsors & partners with a passion for supporting, nurturing and investing in up-and-coming disruptive technologies and startups.


upSTART 2018 at Digital DNA is not just a pitching competition, but an opportunity for startups and investors to connect, network and for valuable conversation to happen. We have a limited number of free investor tickets available to attend Digital DNA 2018

Prize Fund