Ireland has a major focus on entrepreneurship right now. Dublin ranks 8 out of 60 major hubs in the latest European Digital City Index (European Digital Forum think-tank). With so many new business projects there has been a massive increase in the demand for startup grants and startup funding.
If you have a feasible business idea but need some help in getting started, find out more about the funding programmes available.
Building a startup? Looking for funding and grants? (shutterstock)
Government/Public Startup Grants & Support
There are over 170 different Government supports for Irish startups and small businesses. This guide aims to help Irish startups and small businesses navigate the range of Government supports to identify the ones most relevant to you. Here are a few of the most significant ones:
Enterprise Ireland will launch 2 further stages of their Competitive Start Fund (CSF) this year. A total of €1.5m is up for grabs and applications for these startup grants open at the end of June. The application process involves the submission of a written proposal and a video pitch. To make the shortlist, here is what we recommend:
- Use Facts. Be specific. Back statements with relevant evidence i.e statistic or examples.
- Know your business model thoroughly. It will make explaining it an easier task.
- Make relevant content such as product specifications, business plans, etc. available to the judges. Consider including links to your website.
- As soon as the application opens, you should begin producing your video pitch – it may take longer than you think.
- Study the marking scheme. For example, the Video Pitch is worth 25% of the overall score.
If you’re outside Dublin, there is a €1m Regional Entrepreneurship CSF scheme also. Under this scheme, up to 30 successful applicants will receive business development support and an investment of up to €50,000 each, through the Regional Entrepreneurship and Fintech CSFs.
New Frontiers is concerned with progressing more early-stage ideas (0-6 Months) from a business concept to an investable business. Funded and managed by Enterprise Ireland, New Frontiers is a national programme. Currently, it’s based based in 14 incubation centres across the country.
However, if you’re worried because you have already received Enterprise Ireland funding in the past two years don’t be. You can still participate in the programme but will not be eligible for the €15,000 startup grants. For applicants to be successful, New Frontiers states that participants are selected based on:
- Track record
- Business experience or acumen
- Capability – having the necessary management and technical skills. A suitable background that will enable the development of a business with sustainable competitive advantage
- Commitment, drive & determination
- Quality of the business idea
Overall, startup grants aim to boost the growth of startups in Ireland. Thus, enabling your business to reach full potential.
Private Sector Support for Startup Funding
NDRC is an early stage investor in tech companies with a main focus on their NDRC Catalyser investment programme. Additionally, its aim is to identify startups and founder teams who meet a significant global unmet market need or problem. For instance, this startup grant could be for you if your startup has;
- Deep know-how in technology
- A globally scalable product or services-led propositions
- Potential to be investor ready or revenue generating within 6 -9 months
- A strong commercial and technical team.
InterTrade Ireland, are a cross-border body, covering the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, who offers a guide to become ‘investor ready’. Additionally, they specialise in early stage startups and provide a range of services and advice.
The Seedcorn Competition is another opportunity for startups. Primarily, startups who require new equity funding as funding received can be up to €280,000. The Seedcorn is basically a two-step application which includes:
- Registration and initial application form
- Visual representation of the business idea i.e either a short video clip or a slide show presentation – or both.
DCU’s Ryan Academy runs the Propeller Venture Accelerator programme for early-stage technology start-ups. Offering €30,000 for seed funding to entrepreneurs, the three-month accelerator provides startups with office space and access to over 80 mentors. However, it’s important to note that for an investment of €45,000 they ask for 7.5% in ordinary shares. Applications are available on their website and are updated accordingly.
Startup Competitions in Ireland
There are many competitions, grants and award programmes for a variety of startup sector. You don’t have to be in the tech area to enter these.
Are you 30 or under with a business idea or an existing business? If so, then Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) Competition is an option for you.
Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Competition is open to all sectors. Initially, the competition takes place at County level with a prize fund of €50,000 available to the winners of three separate categories. In addition, unlike many of the schemes mentioned above, applicants from overseas are eligible to apply. The competition categories are:
International Startup Grants
Enterprise Ireland has a €10m fund to attract entrepreneurs to relocate and establish their startups in Ireland. In order to receive the investment from the available €10m startup fund, they state you must first of all be:
- Firstly, capable of creating at least10 jobs in Ireland. Also able to reach €1 million in sales within three to four years of start-up.
- Secondly, led by an experienced management team who are legally entitled to trade and reside in Ireland. Ireland has introduced a new startup entrepreneur visa. If you are a non-EEA citizen this may be of interest to you.
- Finally, you must be in the process of introducing a new or innovative product or service to international markets
It’s important to note, that initial equity investment is normally in the range of €100k – €500k. Investment can be in the form of ordinary and/or convertible shares. Albeit, in most circumstances, it’s no more than 10% of the ordinary equity.
What Support Networks Are Available To Startups?
Often Banks offer free support systems. Some providing free mentoring, others offer a space for you to work. You can read more about banking support on our blog.
Bank of Ireland’s drop-in workbench space for startups, has been internationally recognized for its services. The concept of Workbench is to connect entrepreneurs, community and branch by offering a free dedicated area for co-working. Most of all, it provides a space for free clinics, events and seminars. We also hold special events for startups, such as guidance seminars and webinars with question and answer sessions and lots of advice.
One of the most useful practices any startup owner or entrepreneur can adopt is to attend as many relevant networking events as possible. Generally, most networking is free, websites like Eventbrite are great for sourcing local meetups. Whereas, bigger events like Inspirefest can be costly, but valuable.
Do Limited Companies Have Increased Chances Of Receiving A Startup Grant?
The simple answer is yes. More startup grants and support are available to limited companies setting up in Ireland.
The sole trader or limited company pros and cons are a great starting point for anyone thinking about setting up as a limited company. Becoming a limited company not only increases the chance of receiving a startup grant but also boosts the credibility of the business.
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