Dublin: Europe’s next startup petri dish?

Startup Bootcamp, a European startup accelerator network and Techstars affiliate, just added Dublin to its existing locations of Copenhagen and Madrid. London and Berlin will follow in 2012.

Ireland’s tech scene continues to expand in spite of the woeful state of the rest of the economy with a plethora of accelerator programs, seed funds and events like Founders and the IBM smartcamp global finals happening there in the last year or two.

Startup Bootcamp’s Dublin program will be run by Eoghan Jennings, formerly CFO of Xing, one of Europe’s most prominent startups. A single pan-European application process will result in the selected teams being assigned to the most suitable city. I attended the first investor day at Startup Bootcamp’s Copenhagen location last November, and one striking characteristic of the startup teams there was how few of them were Danish. One team came all the way from South America. Dublin’s first batch of startups is also expected to include 8-10 teams from outside Ireland.

Jennings told me that each city is expected to develop into a center of excellence in a particular domain area. Ireland has produced quite a few successful enterprise software companies, so its initial theme will be “smart cities”; the challenges presented by big data and connected devices in urban environments. The idea is also to tap into the customers and problems of multinational companies already present in Dublin like Facebook, Google and IBM. IBM and RDIL, Citi’s first dedicated R&D center in the world, will be official partners.

Traditionally, Ireland has had a good pool of tech talent, with many developers learning their trade at those same multinationals. A true startup culture has been slower to develop but is picking up speed. Dogpatch Labs is due to open its first international incubator in Dublin this year. Another Techstars affiliate, the Propeller accelerator, is backed by Declan Ryan of low-cost airline Ryanair. The government trade body Enterprise Ireland is offering up to a 50,000 euro investment to startups that want to relocate to Ireland. Four new seed funds launched in the last couple of years.

The country’s ambitious targets for renewable energy, with 40 percent of power due to be supplied by wind and wave sources by 2020, have also generated a cluster of clean tech startups.