City Hall to be innovation hub as Kilkenny hosts 'Startup Weekend'

Aim is to provide a space for budding entrepreneurs, co-founders, and mentors in travel tech and tourism

Sam Matthews


Sam Matthews



The event takes place in Kilkenny next weekend

Kilkenny’s City Hall is to become a hub of innovation and enterprise next weekend, November 3-5, as creative minds and entrepreneurs arrive for a special Travel Tech ‘Startup Weekend’.

It follows on from the success of the ‘Tech Thursday Kilkenny’ iniative, also capitalising on the city’s strong travel/tourism pedigree.

The weekend will be a 54-hour event, where attendees pitch ideas, form teams and hopefully start companies. The aim is to provide a space for budding entrepreneurs, co-founders, and mentors. Tickets are now available.

“We’ve about 15 national and international companies who are coming down to mentor,” says organiser John Cleere, the man behind Tech Thursday Kilkenny.

“And we have loads of people from around Kilkenny to help out in terms of managing, getting it all up and running for the weekend. Everyone is doing it for free — this is really important.”

Participants will be given one minute to make a pitch (optional). These will be whittled down to the top ideas, and then teams will form around the ideas to come up with developed companies or projects. Finally, the weekend culminates with demonstrations in front of an audience of judges and potential investors.

“It’s high-octane — intensive. Forget about sleep,” says John.

“There’ll be loads of coffee and a lot of fun. It’s going to start the Friday evening.

“This is open to everyone — it’s completely agnostic. You don’t have to have any tech background. If you have an interest in tourism or travel, that’s great.”

Techstars Startup Weekend has held more than 4,000 events in 150 countries around the world, and it’s hoping now to make a big impact in Kilkenny. The event has support from Bank of Ireland Innovation, Red Lemonade Creative, VHI, Taxback, the Local Enterprise Office, and Kilkenny County Council.

Organisers say it will be the longest-ever sitting in City Hall, and a great chance to be introduced to the world of startups and entrepreneurship, while getting to meet fellow professionals, and learn new skills. Attendees will focus on opportunities for the tourism and travel industry, while hearing from specialist speakers and receiving mentoring.

“It’s a real building a culture thing,” says John.

“You’ll have people who have built a very strong network. You’ll have a lot of people are coming from outside of Kilkenny as well, so a lot of people will see Kilkenny.

“It’s really about the connections — people making connections with a lot of big companies out there.”

The Startup Weekend runs Friday to Sunday, November 3 — 5.

“You’ll get your breakfast, your lunch, your dinner,” says John.

“We won’t be closing the Tholsel until very late.”

Tickets for the event are available at or click here.