Newry entrepreneur has BIG idea

16 April 2008

Newry entrepreneur Simon Cowan’s innovative new business idea has been supported by the cross-border Border Innovation Gateway (BIG) pre-incubation programme which is lead by run by Ulster and the Southern Regional College’s Incubation facility in Newry, Greenshoots. The BIG programme is designed to help technology based ideas become business reality.

Simon’s new business Adran Solutions produces biometric finger print recognition technology and specialist software for human resource functions such as clocking in and out. The new system which eliminates false identity of workers is ideal for small businesses and removes any dispute over times individuals have worked or payroll issues. Simon also offers human resources consultancy services and specialist HR software solutions. With a wealth of previous experience in software development for Microsoft and Health Boards across Ireland, Simon spotted the opportunity for the biometric application with small employers who need a more foolproof system.

“The BIG programme has been invaluable to me because the specialist training opened up so many more possibilities, I have really benefited from the networking and business contacts that I have made through the programme and my business has now grown by 50% in a year,” said Simon. “My mentor Frank Rice has helped me with all aspects of researching and marketing my new business and Greenshoots Centre Manager Kieran Fegan who has a background in product design, has helped me extensively both technically and with his extensive business contacts on both sides of the border,” he added.

Congratulating Simon Greenshoots Centre Manger Kieran Fegan stated “Part financed by the EU through the Interreg IIIA Programme, and managed for the Special EU Programmes body by the East Border Region Interreg IIIA Partnership, the BIG Programme is a new type of cross border programme which for the first time ever on the island of Ireland uses the pre-incubation ‘process’ of developing ideas and turning them into businesses. The free 12 week BIG programme helps budding entrepreneurs with a technical, or knowledge based innovative idea explore how to turn this into a sustainable business. It offers training and support, networking opportunities, mentoring, office facilities in Greenshoots and access to academic resource on a cross border basis” Kieran added “The programme will be running again as a Summer boot camp during June on a part-time basis with a residential weekend and we would particular welcome interest from students this time, specifically those from Counties Armagh, Down Louth, Monaghan or Meath with innovative business ideas”

For more information about the programme, contact the BIG coordinator at Greenshoots Newry on 028 3026 5402, the Southern Regional College in Portadown on 028 38397778, or the Regional development Centre, Dundalk Institute of Technology on +353(0)42 933 1161.

A detailed brochure about the course is also available at

  • Monaghan
  • LCC
  • MCC
  • Newry, Mourne and Down District Council
  • Ards and North Down Borough Council
  • Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council