Enterprise Ireland partnership funds made 104 investments worth €34m in 2008. While the investments were spread across all sectors, there has been a particularly strong focus on communications, life sciences and software.
Feargal Ó Móráin, director of Corporate and Investment Services at Enterprise Ireland, said investments were made in both innovative start-up and expanding companies spread throughout the regions.
This brings total investment made under all three Enterprise Ireland supported seed and venture capital (VC) programmes to €459m at the end of 2008.
“This [venture capital] sector is critical to securing finance and encouraging companies to set up, grow and develop,” Ó Móráin explained.
In 2008, a total of €34m was invested by partnership funds supported under the three Enterprise Ireland Seed and Venture Capital Programmes (the 2007-2012 Programme, the 2000-2006 Programme and the 1994-1999 Programme).
In 2008, two new funds were established under the Enterprise Ireland 2007-2012 Seed and Venture Capital Programme: the €75m Fountain Healthcare Partners Fund and the €75m Ulster Bank Diageo Venture Fund.
“Over the past 15 years the Government, through Enterprise Ireland, has committed over €300m, as a limited partner, in the majority of seed and VC funds that have emerged in Ireland. The current Seed & Venture Capital Programme 2007-2012 involves state commitment of €175m in a range of funds,” Ó Móráin said.
“Today, these funds have a combined capital available for investment of almost €500m and are anticipated to have considerably more available upon the completion of ongoing negotiations. The investment pipeline for these funds remains strong, a very encouraging feature given the current difficult economic environment.”
Ó Móráin also welcomed the provision of an additional €48m for seed investment as part of the Government’s bank recapitalisation initiative.
“New agreements between AIB and Enterprise Ireland and Bank of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland respectively will see the AIB Seed Fund increase to €53m from €30m and the creation of a new €25m Bank of Ireland Seed & Early Stage Equity Fund, marking a significant increase in the funding available for Irish companies.
“Enterprise Ireland continues to work closely with the VC sector, the banks and the European Investment Bank to secure finance for Irish enterprises”, Ó Móráin said.
The Enterprise Ireland report was welcomed by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan TD (pictured), who said Irish VC firms provide vital investment funding to Ireland’s early stage and developing companies, and are an essential element of the eco system for Irish businesses.
“They provide that critical risk capital that could otherwise be difficult to raise. I am also particularly pleased to welcome the establishment of the new and expanded seed funds in the implementation of the Government’s decision, as part of the bank recapitalisation initiative, to increase the supply of seed capital to new Irish businesses,” the Tánaiste added.
By John Kennedy
Photo: Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan TD