Ambition: Female Pre-Accelerator


What it is?

Ambition is an exciting new pre-accelerator programme run by Local Enterprise Office Donegal in partnership with NDRC, which focuses on early-stage female entrepreneurs and promotes the skills and resilience needed to develop globally scalable ventures, attract investment and create jobs.

LEO Donegal has teamed up with NDRC to bring ideas from concept to pitch following in the footsteps of role models such as Gillian Doyle (Cerebreon) and Larissa Feeney (Accountancy Online). Applications will be accepted until Sunday, 11October 2020. A maximum of twelve business ideas will then be selected to receive mentoring and support from NDRC and LEO Donegal through a series of workshops during November and December, with the opportunity to pitch for a cash prize of €10,000 and other supports in early December.


€10,000 cash prize. All finalists will receive detailed feedback on their business ideas and pitches from NDRC’s Venture Investment Team and the showcase Judging Panel.

Who is eligible?

The Ambition programme is open to:

  • Any Female Founder/Co-Founder
  • Residents of County Donegal or anyone part of the Donegal Diaspora within Ireland or worldwide
  • With a concept for a new product or services across any sector with a particular focus on technology and digital solutions
  • Global scalability potential
  • Individuals or a team (of more than one person) may apply
  • Should be at pre-seed investment stage

General Guidelines

  • Application close at 23.45hrs  on Sunday, 11th October 2020.
  • Applicants should preferably be part of a team (more than one person). There are no limits as to the number of members each team may have, however teams may only select up to three participants to complete the workshops.
  • The competition is open to residents of County Donegal or anyone that is part of the Donegal Diaspora within Ireland or worldwide.


We are looking for smart new business ideas amongst Donegal’s early-stage female entrepreneurs. Convince us that your business idea is the next big thing and you will receive support to develop your business idea from concept to pitch. Twelve business ideas will be selected to participate on seven pre-acceleration workshop days. These will be chosen based on criteria that includes: scale of ambition, the size of the problem to be solved, early market understanding, a clear competitive advantage, feasible business model and strength and diversity of the team.

Teams must be available to participate on all programme days as outlined. At the end of programme showcase, a Judging Panel comprising leading entrepreneurs, executives and investors, will select one winner.

Programme Schedule



21/09/2020Applications open
11/10/2020Closing date for applications
14/10/2020The final shortlist selection of twelve ideas will be announced on National Women’s Enterprise Day

The programme will take place online. Teams must be available to participate on all sessions as outlined:

Programme Orientation22/10/202010.00 - 13.00
Workshop 129/10/202010.00 – 16.15Problem Framing
Workshop 205/11/202010.00 – 16.15Customer Discovery
Workshop 319/11/202010.00 – 16.15Value Proposition
Workshop 426/11/202010.00 – 16.15Market Opportunity
Workshop 503/12/202010.00 – 16.15Presentation Skills
Workshop 67/12/202010.00 – 13.00Practice Pitch
Programme Showcase10/12/202010.00 – 13.00

LEO Donegal

Local Enterprise Office Donegal is the essential resource for small business in County Donegal. We support local enterprises in many different ways to encourage a thriving and sustainable local economy. Our highly qualified and experienced staff are here to help businesses to be successful. We have access to a broad range of business contacts and experts who can add real value to local enterprises. You can also contact us directly to discuss your business idea or development needs and we will be delighted to meet with you.


NDRC sources and builds digital startups to invest in and work with, providing them with an integrated offering of knowledge, experience, expertise and a modest amount of capital to enable them to become investor-ready faster, more successfully and more efficiently than otherwise. Since 2017, 226 teams of some 900 participants have participated on NDRC pre-acceleration programmes with 52% moving to next stage supports and €14.5m raised to date. 

What they say about NDRC Pre-Acceleration Programming:

‘Step out of your comfort zone and go talk to the grown-ups in the start-up world!’ Dara Maldrum, Founder, Vertigenius

If you want to stress test your business idea and make an honest go/no-go, this is the right forum for you.Shona D’Arcy, Kids Speech Labs 

The programme made me think about the possibility of having an international business. Having invited speakers who had been through the same process really helped too.’ Daryl O’Regan, Paybolt