Ambitious founders encouraged to apply for latest start-up funds

7 Sep 2021

From left: Jenny Melia, Damien English and Katie Farrell. Image: Maxwells Photography

Applications for Enterprise Ireland start-up funds totalling €2m are open for the next three weeks.

Start-ups and early-stage entrepreneurs are invited to apply for Enterprise Ireland’s latest funds. Under its Competitive Start Fund programme, the agency is launching two new funds – one for all sectors and one specifically for women entrepreneurs – amounting to a combined total of €2m.

The funds have been designed to help grow the number of high-potential start-up companies in Ireland that could expand internationally. Enterprise Ireland can approve a maximum of 40 investments of up to €50,000 in equity funding to successful projects.

Announcing the funds today (7 September), Minister of State for Employment and Business Damien English, TD, commented that they would help “cultivate our country’s start-up culture” as Ireland emerges from the pandemic.

Manager of Enterprise Ireland’s high-potential start-up division, Jenny Melia, added: “Enterprise Ireland is looking forward to working with a new generation of export-led start-ups who need a funding boost for innovative entrepreneurial endeavours in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors.”

She noted that increasing the number of women-led high-growth enterprises is a major objective in Enterprise Ireland’s Action Plan for Women in Business, which was launched last year.

“We look forward to providing up to €1m in funding specifically to women entrepreneurs at the start of their journeys to help improve gender balance in the business community,” she said.

Melia added that successful applicants would have the opportunity to avail of advice from expert mentors. She also stressed that Enterprise Ireland is keen to see applications from enterprises working on the transition to a low-carbon economy and tackling the impact of the climate crisis.

A previous winner of the Competitive Start Fund for Women Entrepreneurs is Katie Farrell, co-founder and COO of loyalty points platform Squid.

“It was brilliant to be backed by Enterprise Ireland at such an early stage of our start-up journey, particularly as a first-time founder,” she said.

“With the competitive start-up funding, we were able to launch the Squid app with our first paying customers and hire our first two full-time employees. We got access to great mentors, supports and programmes.”

Squid went on to become one of Enterprise Ireland’s high-potential start-ups and the agency co-funded its seed round of €450,000 last year. Squid currently works with more than 600 businesses and has 60,000 users across Ireland and the UK.

Applications for the two Competitive Start Funds are open until 3pm on Tuesday, 28 September. Further information on how to apply is available from Enterprise Ireland.

Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic