Enterprise Ireland launches €1m Competitive Start Fund

10 Feb 2021

Jenny Melia, divisional manager for High Potential Start-Ups at Enterprise Ireland. Image: Enterprise Ireland

The State agency’s latest funding pot is for start-ups at very early stages, with up to €50,000 in capital available.

Enterprise Ireland has launched its latest €1m Competitive Start Fund for early-stage start-ups.

It is open for applications from founders at the formative steps of their companies and will provide up to €50,000 in equity funding.

Start-ups with an innovative product or service with potential for global markets are eligible. The State agency said it is especially interested in hearing from start-ups that can help address the climate crisis.

‘We’re very interested in projects that will drive the digital and green economy where market opportunities continue to emerge and grow’

The funding is intended to help get more start-ups off the ground that can then join Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-up division.

“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and post-Brexit, Irish entrepreneurs have continued to be inspired and continue to progress plans to take advantage of potential opportunities to develop an export-led business,” Jenny Melia, manager of the High Potential Start-up division, said. “Through funding and expert advice, the Competitive Start Fund is designed to help them turn those innovative ideas into profitable companies with global market potential.

“We’re looking for innovative solutions and development plans from entrepreneurs across multiple sectors in manufacturing and internationally traded services. We’re very interested in projects that will drive the digital and green economy where market opportunities continue to emerge and grow,” she added.

Applications are open until 2 March. Between now and then, Enterprise Ireland will run a series of online workshops with national business innovation centres to provide support for start-ups through the application process.

Examfly, a Dublin edtech start-up, previously secured funding through the Competitive Start Fund. It develops online learning tools for professional exams.

“Support through Enterprise Ireland’s CSF was a real turning point for the company as it allowed us to refine the product and gave us the time to research and develop the market,” founder Deirdre Lyons said. “Within six to eight months we had a major client signed up and will be launching our platform with a second client this month.”

“A funding boost at the very early stages of starting up a business is always really welcome,” Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, added.

“Up to €50,000 is available for successful projects under this fund, giving those companies an important kick-start. These are the employers of the future. The Government is committed to nurturing entrepreneurs at every stage of their business development, whether that’s through investments, like this one, or networking and mentoring opportunities.”

At the end of last year, Enterprise Ireland awarded 15 women-led start-ups with up to €50,000 in funding each under the Competitive Start Fund for Women Entrepreneurs.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin