Edge will chair the Irish chapter of Endeavor, a global not-for-profit organisation which supports and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs by connecting them with talent and global peer and mentor networks as well as connecting business owners to funding sources.
The other members of Endeavor’s founding board include Anne Heraty founder and CEO of CPL Recruitment, Paddy McKillen Snr, Denis O’Brien and Mark Roden of Ding, as well as Elaine Coughlan of growth equity fund Atlantic Bridge. Running costs for the venture will be funded by the board members.
Edge said it was natural fit for him and U2 to support entrepreneurs.
“I think every rock and roll band is entrepreneurial – it’s about ideas, it’s about self-belief and a touch of megalomania in there,” he said.
He said a decision had been made to operate on an all-island basis, and Brexit would not change that.
“When we had the first ever meetings about what Endeavor Ireland should be about, the subject of whether it should be all-Ireland or just the Republic came up and almost immediate we just realised there’s absolutely no reason why it can’t be an all-Ireland,” he said.
“We are interested in supporting entrepreneurs north and south of the Border but also the opportunities that Endeavor offers are very beneficial to people outside of Dublin, like in the regions.
“So we are urban and rural, north and south and the leverage of this network, it’s an international network of mentors and advisers that works probably better if you are outside Dublin because it turbo-charges your ability to scale up in a way that’s probably more difficult if you are outside Dublin.”
The cross-Border initiative is supported by Enterprise Ireland and Invest NI and Edge said he is confident business owners will rise to whatever difficulties are thrown up, including by Brexit.
“I’m very optimistic. I’m not saying there won’t be challenges. Clearly there are, and volatility is not good for anybody, but I do trust that the entrepreneurs of this country, the north also, will find a away around the challenges that come their way,” he said.
Endeavor will work with founders and companies that have passed through the initial startup phase and who demonstrate the potential for rapid expansion and scale. Between four and six entrepreneurs or businesses will be selected in Ireland each year to participate in the programme, following a rigorous selection.