A new online platform has been launched to help the growing number of startup businesses in Northern Ireland connect with investors, peers and potential new recruits across Europe.

TheHub.io is based on a strategic partnership between Danske Bank, Catalyst Inc and Rainmaking, a global cooperative of entrepreneurs.

Danske Bank said The Hub, which is now live, will help connect startups to relevant resources, such as talent, networks, financing, tools and advice from experts which will help them overcome some of the challenges of scaling up.

As of today, 105 NI startups and 34 investors from across Europe are using thehub.io and there are 172 jobs on it.

The project has been fuelled by Danske’s wish to help Northern Ireland companies to grow, especially early-stage companies with a global outlook and the ambition to expand fast.

David Allister, Head of Digital Partnerships and Alliances at Danske Bank, explained:

“Our vision with The Hub is to connect people. Entrepreneurs and small businesses are essential for innovation, productivity and economic growth in society. In order for them to succeed in their growth ambitions, however, many things need to fall in to place.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for startups to deal with some of the challenges related to scalability, such as recruiting the right people, gaining access to funding and finding the tools they need quickly.”

David added: “The Hub will help startups screen potential investors to find the ones that are most relevant to their business. For investors, we want The Hub to be a digital community where they can find great local businesses and entrepreneurs to invest in.

“Our ambition for The Hub is to increase interaction between the startup ecosystem in Northern Ireland and the ecosystems in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark.”

Conall Keenan, Hub Manager, added: “Thehub.io provides startups with an overview of some of the available funding sources, making it easier for them to navigate through some of the options. In early-stage startups, it is also really important to get help with recruitment. Because being a start-up is not a one-person show, and hiring can be challenging.

“My role is to guide the users of the platform through the process of registering their job positions, gaining traction for their events and providing ongoing support for them to effectively use the platform to grow their business. There is a great opportunity in Northern Ireland and thehub.io is a unique way of connecting the resources available to advance the local start-up market.”

One of the companies already using TheHub.io is Belfast-based start-up loyalBe, which has a created a data-driven marketing platform for small retailers that helps them increase customer retention and drive repeat sales.

Cormac Quinn, founder of loyalBe, said: “At loyalBe we are aiming to replace the need for multiple paper loyalty cards, which are inefficient and easily lost, with a single mobile app that lets consumers earn rewards by paying with their bank card.

“It’s a solution we believe has huge potential for the retail sector around the world and so, as we develop the product and grow our business, it will be hugely important for us to be able to tap into the talent, investment and knowledge that exists in other geographies. Being linked in to TheHub.io represents a great opportunity for us to get loyalBe known outside Northern Ireland and to access valuable resources and opportunities easily, in one place.”

The Hub is completely free to use for startups, applicants and investors.

The launch of thehub.io follows the recent opening of the Catalyst Belfast Fintech Hub co-working space in the ground floor of Danske Bank’s Belfast city centre headquarters.