Enterprise Ireland to ‘Propel’ start-ups in ICT, life sciences

31 Mar 2010

State support agency Enterprise Ireland has revealed a new ‘Propel’ programme aimed at supporting up to 12 new export-focused start-ups in ICT and life sciences that are capable of achieving revenues in excess of €1m.

The nationwide business development programme, which follows a successful pilot in the border and midland areas, is aimed at supporting the setting up of start-up companies in the information technology and life sciences sectors that have significant export potential.

The initiative, the latest stage of Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Propel Ideas into Business’ Programme, is geared towards providing a select number of entrepreneurs and early stage businesses with the skills and training required to take the next step in expanding their service offerings, in Ireland and overseas.

Successful participants in the programme will receive top-class training from management consultants, PA Consulting, on how to manage a business during the start-up phase, financial support of up to €15,000 from Enterprise Ireland and office space, as well as advice and networking support to get their business up and running.

“For economic recovery to take place, it is essential that we support the development of innovative start-ups in all parts of the country,” Conor Fahy, regional director, Enterprise Ireland explained.

“We’re very excited about the potential for the Propel programme to accelerate the creation of export-led businesses that have a real opportunity to become industry leaders, both in Ireland and globally”.

Applications for the Propel programme can be submitted from today. Applications will close on 23 April.

To be considered for the programme, applicants must be able to demonstrate a viable business proposition, capable of achieving revenues of at least €1m and employing 10 personnel within three years.

Phases of the Propel Programme

The Propel Programme is divided into two phases. In the first phase, which will take place over a single month, starting in May 2010, 25 successful candidates will receive intensive training through a series of workshops in financial management, product and service marketing and international business planning.

At the end of the first phase, the participants will present their business proposition to an evaluation panel who will determine the most appropriate candidates to progress to the next phase of the programme. The selection panel will be made up of strategic business development experts from Enterprise Ireland and PA Consulting.

In the second phase, just 12 of the candidates will be selected for the training process, which will last eight months. During this phase, the participants will receive regular training in a range of business functions, monthly 1:1 sessions with industry experts, as well as €15,000 per company in financial support.

A regionally focused pilot version of the Propel programme was rolled out last year in the Border Counties – Monaghan, Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth and Sligo – and resulted in the creation of 12 new start-up companies in the region, across a number of different industry sectors.

Of the 12 firms, seven have progressed into the High Potential Start Ups Unit (HPSUs) in Enterprise Ireland, with the organisation continuing to provide support, in terms of ongoing mentoring and helping to source funding from private investors.

Two of the 12 firms – G-Pace Heart Rhythm Ireland, which has developed a national database of patients required to use cardiac devices, for use by hospitals, and Hodgson Moore Pathology Services, which has developed a unique blood testing system for elite athletes – already have plans to expand their offering to overseas markets.

“The success of the Border Counties programme last year is one of the key reasons that we have decided to roll out the Propel initiative on a nationwide basis this year. There is no doubt that there are some outstanding entrepreneurs in this country.

“Our objective is to give the next generation of entrepreneurs the tools to expand and refine their product or service portfolio, both in Ireland and overseas,” Fahy added.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Enterprise Ireland has revealed a new ‘Propel’ programme to support up to a dozen new export-focused start-ups in ICT and life sciences

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years