Enterprise Ireland opens up €1m Competitive Start Fund

5 May 2021

Jenny Melia, divisional manager of high-potential start-ups, Enterprise Ireland. Image: Enterprise Ireland

The programme will award up to €50,000 in equity to successful applicants developing new innovative products and services.

Enterprise Ireland has opened up applications for the latest round of its €1m Competitive Start Fund for early-stage founders and start-ups.

The State agency will award up to €50,000 in equity to 20 young companies that are in the early stages of developing a product or service that has the potential to be scaled internationally. Applications close on 25 May.

The programme aims to find the next innovative technologies coming out of Ireland and potentially add to the agency’s pipeline of high-potential start-ups.

It will assist these start-ups with evaluating their potential markets, building prototypes and advising them on raising further funding.

“At Enterprise Ireland we are committed to helping Irish innovators by backing entrepreneurs and start-ups with the early-stage funding needed to scale internationally,” Jenny Melia, manager of Enterprise Ireland’s high-potential start-up division, said.

“Each successful company will receive a €50,000 investment as well as mentoring opportunities with an extensive team of Enterprise Ireland experts and access to entrepreneurial networks, which will help companies kick-start their journey to global success.”

The latest fund was launched today (5 May) by Minister for Business, Employment and Retail Damien English, TD.

The €1m fund will provide a “critical boost” to entrepreneurs and companies, he said.

“As the country moves towards a post-pandemic jobs-led national economic recovery, targeted initiatives such as the Competitive Start Fund will help to build the businesses of tomorrow and propel their future prosperity.”

Ahead of the deadline for applications, Business Innovation Centres around the country will be hosting support workshops online to help entrepreneurs through the application process.

Previous winners of funding include construction cost management software company LiveCosts, which used the funds to get the first full version of its product up and running. It now has clients at home and in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

“Receiving the funding from the [Competitive Start Fund] came just before a really challenging time for the industry as we faced the dual threats of Covid-19 and Brexit, but the strong foundation we had built allowed us to overcome the obstacles and even see the opportunities that come from such huge challenges,” LiveCosts chief executive Ciaran Brennan said.

Last week, Enterprise Ireland also launched a new online portal for all things related to the Irish start-up landscape. Start-up entrepreneurs can use it to search for details on events, programmes, accelerators or incubators, competitions, funding opportunities and news.

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