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Benefacts started life in 2008/9 as part of a project co-funded by the European Commission and the Irish Government to explore the feasibility of establishing the Guidestar model of public data re-use in five European countries – Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In 2009-2011 Irish Nonprofits Knowledge Exchange (INKEx) was funded by the Irish Government and philanthropies to build a proof of concept project.
In 2014 then Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform Mr Brendan Howlin TD invited INKEx founder Patricia Quinn and the other trustees of the INKEx project to establish Benefacts, building on the learnings from the INKEx project. Minister launched the new company in June 2015.