Bruton calls investors to pitch for 2nd €125m Innovation Fund

5 Oct 2011

Ireland's Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton at last week's Digital Ireland Forum

Venture capitalists and investors from around the world have been called on to express their interest in the second round of the Innovation Fund Ireland (IFI), which will have a similar amount, €125m, available to invest in start-up programmes.

The first call for expressions under Innovation Fund Ireland took place in September 2010. The original Exchequer funding commitment, managed by Enterprise Ireland, was €125m. An equivalent amount is managed by the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF).

To date, the NPRF have made three investments. One of the NPRF investments is in Polaris, which resulted today in the establishment of the first Dogpatch Incubator Lab outside of the United States, opened officially by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

To date, Enterprise Ireland has approved a number of commitments (co-investments alongside the NPRF) to a number of international venture fund capital managers.

VC funds by their nature have a lifespan of more than 10 years, so cash would only be drawn down incrementally as required throughout the investment period.

“There was an exceptional response last year to the launch of Innovation Fund Ireland,” the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD said.

“A large number of responses were received from a sectorally and geographically diverse group of companies.

How Innovation Fund Ireland works

Bruton said he expects the first round of commitments out of the €125m of Enterprise Ireland managed funds to be formalised over the next couple of months.

“When the first of the new Irish offices associated with these new investments is established, I will formally begin the second round of calls for the balance of the funds allocated and managed by Enterprise Ireland. The operation of the Innovation Fund will continue to be managed by EI in ongoing co-operation with the NPRF.

“It is important to note that a commitment from Enterprise Ireland in any venture capital fund must result in the fund manager investing the equivalent of that commitment ‘in Irish companies or companies with significant operations in Ireland’.

“In addition, the fund managers must establish an office in Ireland and a fundamental principle is that the State’s investment should provide a financial return to the taxpayer over time.

“This means that through the careful selection of the right investments, EI can secure significant additional funding from international investors for dynamic, Irish-based companies. Apart from the tangible benefits this brings to the domestic economy, I know from experience of recent trade missions to the United States that the message that this sends out to the international market is very loud and clear: Ireland is open for business,” Bruton said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years