It’s the last chance this year for start-ups to enter the Competitive Start Fund competition.
As the year nears the final quarter, Enterprise Ireland has launched its final Competitive Start Fund (CSF) of 2018 today (6 September).
The fund will provide up to €50,000 in equity funding for up to 15 successful applicants. The final round this year is open to all sectors, with a special focus on manufacturing, life sciences and renewables.
A heavy volume of entries expected
Applicants have from 18 September until 2 October to enter. At the launch of the fund, Joe Healy, divisional manager of high-potential start-ups at Enterprise Ireland, said the organisation expected a heavy volume of applications. He added: “The CSF provides an initial critical fuel injection to help launch early-stage start-ups and bring innovative business ideas to an international market.”
The early-stage projects that enter must have reached minimum viable product stage, with a live beta up and running. They must have demonstrable customer validation with either trial or paying customers. A fully articulated proposition addressing the product’s ability to fill a market gap is also required. Fully identified, suitable international market channels are crucial.
Raising business profiles
Previous winner of the CSF, SmartFactory CEO Brendan Sheppard, said: “While working in engineering, I noticed the need for digitalisation on the factory floor, but I struggled to find a solution that fully met the needs of my clients. This inspired me to set up SmartFactory and to develop our own solution.
“Receiving CSF funding allowed us to invest in talent, and the endorsement of Enterprise Ireland in selecting our application also raised our profile and enhanced our credibility with potential customers and investors.”
SmartFactory designs and implements digital transformation tools for the manufacturing sector. Other winners include SwitchMetrics, CloudRanger and Nasal Medical.
Crucial core product support
Lucy Friedman, CEO of SwitchMetrics, an operational insights firm for SME telephone calls, spoke about the funding and mentorship benefits she received as a winner. “With the CSF, you get mentoring and I was really pleased to be presented with a selection of very relevant mentors from which to pick.”
She added that the CSF funding plays a vital role in the company’s next steps. “This [launching the product to trial] requires funding to support our business development activities. We are initially selling in Ireland and the UK.
“We also need funding so we can respond to customer feedback from the trial and make improvements to our core product. Without the CSF, we would not be able to progress through this vital stage.”