Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD has unveiled a €500m plan to establish a series of venture-capital (VC) funds that will be used to attract innovative overseas firms and boost R&D activity in Ireland.
Known as the ‘Innovation Fund – Ireland’, the measure is aimed at supporting early stage R&D-intensive SMEs, both local and international.
Five state-backed VC funds, in partnership with private-sector players and overseen by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), have been proposed.
The funds will be 49pc supported by cash from the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF), and 51pc backed by private-sector VC companies that specialise in investing in start-up companies focused on developing new technologies and products.
The money will be used to invest in science and technology firms that are based in Ireland, or move their operations here, and is designed to attract such businesses and workers with scientific and technological expertise to the Republic.
The funds will have a life cycle of 10 years, over which they will invest in knowledge businesses.
The news was welcomed by the Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA).
“The Government is to be applauded in this latest initiative, which combined with existing VC funds, will make available over €1bn for investment in Ireland’s SMEs,” commented Regina Breheny, director general, IVCA.
“Research conducted by UCD shows that VC-backed firms create more jobs, employ more graduates and generate more exports than other firms.
“While details on this new fund need to be clarified, indigenous tech-based companies are Ireland’s future, and this move by Government will encourage entrepreneurial talent,” Breheny said.
By John Kennedy