Enterprise Ireland’s 2018 start-up investment down €8m on 2017

14 Feb 2019

Entrepreneurs and representatives from the Government at the Enterprise Ireland 2019 Start-up Showcase at Croke Park, Dublin. Image: Shane O’Neill/SON Photographic

Enterprise Ireland’s 2019 Start-up Showcase revealed that, in many instances, funding for young businesses last year was down compared with 2017.

Late last year Siliconrepublic.com wrote about the ‘investment time bomb’ and a notable decline in the amount of venture capital and seed funding to Irish businesses. Now, this seems to be confirmed following the launch of this year’s Enterprise Ireland Start-up Showcase this morning (14 February).

The Government body announced that it had invested €23m in Irish start-ups in 2018, supporting a total of 132 companies, with more than 600 entrepreneurs and representatives descending on the launch event at Croke Park, Dublin. Among the figures Enterprise Ireland cited as being significant included 82 high-potential start-ups (HPSUs), 50 Competitive Start Funds and 15 spin-out companies from third-level institutions.

Additionally, Enterprise Ireland said that there were 28 woman-led HPSUs, as well as 26 HPSUs that received follow-on investment funding as their business scaled.

However, this time last year Enterprise Ireland reported, in almost all cases, higher figures than today. This includes the fact that it supported 181 start-ups in 2017, invested a total of €31m and supported 90 HPSUs. Meanwhile, investment in women-led start-ups totalled 67 in 2017, amounting to 35pc of all investment.

The latter means 2018’s corresponding figure has fallen considerably on the previous year, to just 21pc of all companies supported by the State body. There was also a decline in the number of entrepreneurs attending this year’s showcase, with 700 attending in 2018.

‘Appetite amongst entrepreneurs is strong’

The organisation did say that it had noted a 30pc increase in start-up enquiries seeking guidance and investment, making it the largest figure to date.

At the launch, Enterprise Ireland’s manager of the HPSU division, Joe Healy, said: “Even in today’s challenging business climate with Brexit looming, the appetite and enthusiasm amongst entrepreneurs is strong.

“Enterprise Ireland’s strategy for 2017-2020 is to support more start-ups with global ambition to build scale and expand reach. Now at the halfway mark into our four-year strategy, we are on course to meet the ambitious target of creating 60,000 new jobs by the end of 2020.”

Meanwhile, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD, added: “I would like to congratulate all the entrepreneurs here today who have taken the brave step to start their own business.

“As we reach near full employment, our focus must shift to ensuring our workers and firms are resilient in the face of new challenges and embrace new opportunities.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic