About Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland is a government organisation that helps Irish companies to start, grow, and scale their businesses globally. Generally, Enterprise Ireland focuses on supporting enterprises that have the potential to export and achieve global success. 

One of their main missions is to create and develop “High Potential Startups (HPSUs)” – which are companies that are likely to scale into international marketing within 3 years of starting up.

This guide will help you to discover how your business can qualify as a High Potential Startup and the types of support you may be entitled to.

Who does Enterprise Ireland help?

Generally, Enterprise Ireland focuses on manufacturing and internationally traded companies. If you have a service company that trades locally and doesn’t have export potential, you are unlikely to qualify for Enterprise Ireland support.

If this is the case, check out our blog on the Local Enterprise Office: What Do They Do? They are the first place to go for support when you need grants to start a business in Ireland.

Also, note that there are always qualifying conditions and various minimum/maximum spending conditions for any of the supports mentioned.

If at any stage you want more information about a business grant or support, contact Enterprise Ireland directly via their website or visit one of their offices.

What is a High Potential Startup (HPSU)?

Enterprise Ireland defines a HPSU as a business with the potential to employ at least 10 people and generate at least €1 million worth of revenue within 3 years of starting up. 

To be considered as a HPSU by Enterprise Ireland your business should be: 

  • Less than 5 years old and headquartered and controlled in Ireland 
  • Introducing a new or innovative product or service to international markets 
  • Involved in manufacturing or internationally traded services 
  • Capable of producing at least 10 jobs in Ireland within 3 years of starting up 
  • Capable of achieving at least €1 million worth of sales within 3 years of starting up 

Applying to become a High Potential Startup (HPSU) with Enterprise Ireland

If you are not currently a client of Enterprise Ireland and want to qualify as a High Potential Start-Up (HPSU),  you need to complete an “Outline Business Proposition” document. This can be downloaded from the Enterprise Ireland website.

The document gives an overview of your business, the background and experience of the main promoter(s), the steps that need to be taken to move the project forward and your funding requirements.

Enterprise Ireland aims to respond to application enquiries within 5 working days.

Becoming an Enterprise Ireland client

Once you have completed and submitted the application, your company will fall into one of the following categories:

HPSU Ready
If you are deemed an eligible HPSU you will be assigned an Enterprise Ireland Development Advisor who will work with and support you with the best funding for your business.
Not an eligible HPSU
If your business is not eligible for Enterprise Ireland support, the team will explain why and suggest alternative supports you can avail of.
Further development needed
If your business has the potential to be a HPSU the Enterprise Ireland team will provide feedback and recommendations to help you develop your business to the “HPSU Ready” stage.

Enterprise Ireland grants for businesses in Ireland

Funding supports from Enterprise Ireland are closely aligned to a company’s stage of development.


Feasibility stage

You have a business idea that needs support to get it investor ready. Typical results will be market research, business plan development, technical research, and prototyping.

Investor ready stage

You have a well-developed business plan and need to raise investment. At this stage, Enteprise Ireland may offer equity investment in your company. Note that you need to be a client of EI to qualify.

Post-investment stage

You have a company in its growth and scaling phase and need support that is focused on exploring international opportunities and continued development of the management team.

Enterprise Ireland Startup grants - feasibility stage

These grants will apply to you if you have a business idea that needs support to get it investor-ready.

HPSU Feasibility Grant

The HPSU Feasibility Grant covers costs such as salaries, overheads, consultancy fees, foreign travel, trade fair costs and prototype costs to help support the development of HPSUs and help them prepare an investor-ready business plan.

HPSU SPRINT Investor Ready Programme

The HPSU SPRINT Investor Ready Programme is an intensive 3-day programme designed to help HPSU clients looking to seek investment in the next 6 to 9 months. It focuses on getting clients ready to meet with and pitch to investors. 

Innovation voucher

The innovation voucher is worth €5000 and allows early-stage companies to work with colleges in Ireland and Northern Ireland to explore a business opportunity or solve a technical problem.

Mentor grant

Enterprise Ireland will match you up with an experienced business mentor who can help you in the start-up phase of your business and give you advice. 

Small business grants - ready for investment stage

These supports will apply to if you have a well-developed business plan and need to raise investment. Note that you need to be an existing client of Enterprise Ireland or apply to become a HPSU in order to avail of these supports.

Competitive Start Fund (CSF)

The Competitive Start Fund (CSF) offers your company a €50,000 equity investment to help you achieve commercial and technical milestones like evaluating international marketing opportunities or building prototypes. This fund is open for applications several times during the year.

Innovative HPSU Fund

The Innovative HPSU Fund allows Enterprise Ireland to give HPSU clients equity investment to support them in their business plans. This fund supports first time and follow-on equity investments.

Established SME funding - growth stage

An Established SME client is a company that is not a HPSU client, has an established trading record, the company employs between 10 and 250 employees, and has either an annual turnover of less than €50m or an annual balance sheet of less than €43m.

Market Discovery Fund

The Market Discovery Fund helps to incentivise companies to research viable and sustainable market entry strategies in new geographic markets. The grant can be used towards internal and external costs incurred when researching new markets for products and services.

Evolve Strategic Planning Grant

The  Evolve Strategic Planning Grant is designed to support Enterprise Ireland clients to respond to the challenges and opportunities, which have arisen as a result of changes to the trading environment in the UK since January 1st, 2021. The grant offers up to €5,000 in support and can be used to help cover travel expenses associated with consultancy and international assignments to determine how the company might respond to the threats and opportunities that have arisen as a result of changes to the trading environment in the UK.

Strategic Marketing Review

The Strategic Marketing Review support is a programme for your senior management team. It helps companies to focus on a market-driven business strategy to help excel the rate of scaling and international growth.

Digital Marketing Capability

The Digital Marketing Capability support is a management development support that is facilitated by a digital marketing agency/consultant. The aim is to develop and enhance your company’s capability to use digital channels for business development.

In summary…

Enterprise Ireland is a government organisation that focuses on supporting enterprises that have the potential to export and achieve global success. Generally, in order to qualify as an Enterprise Ireland client, companies need to be within the manufacturing sector and have the potential to become internationally traded companies.

If you are successful in becoming an EI client, there is a range of grants and supports available depending on the company’s stage of development. To learn more, check out the Enterprise Ireland website or visit one of their offices.


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