Ireland creates fund for internet and video game start-ups

1 Dec 2010

Enterprise Ireland has created a new Internet and Games Competitive Start-up Fund, with an initial pot of €500,000 to invest in 10 internet and games start-ups. It aims to help them get off the ground and sell globally.

The fund is focused on providing start-ups with critical early stage funding to explore and determine the market fit of their business and progress to product launch.

The new fund is being introduced on a pilot basis for 10 start-ups in the internet and games sector, who can demonstrate an ability to grow their business internationally.

The initial fund for internet and games start-ups will be €500,000, but it is envisaged that this will be expanded to include further sectors in early 2011.

An external panel including some of Ireland’s best-known internet and games entrepreneurs has been assembled to evaluate the applications.

The closing date for applications is 16 December, 2010, and the 10 selected companies will be agreed upon by the end of January 2011. Application forms and detailed information are available online.

Targeting a €30bn market

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keeffe TD described the new fund as a strategic investment in the future of Ireland’s internet and games industry.

“Games are one of the fastest-growing markets in the world with an estimated value of more than €30bn,” O’Keefe said.

“In Ireland and the UK, the market for online games is valued at about €2bn. Clearly, there is an enormous business opportunity there for Irish firms and the Government … Enterprise Ireland is focused on helping internet and games entrepreneurs to capitalise on this rapidly growing market opportunity.”

The new fund marks a speedy implementation of one of the key recommendations in the Report of the Innovation Task Force, which highlighted the need for greater support for early stage start-ups.

Under the terms of the new fund, start-ups will receive an equity investment of €50,000 for a 10pc ordinary equity stake.

In addition to funding, each start-up will be provided with an experienced business mentor. The application process has been designed to be fast and efficient, to allow the new start-ups to concentrate on validating their business concept and getting to market entry stage as quickly as possible.

“Enterprise Ireland is introducing this new Competitive Start Fund in direct response to our client needs,” said Frank Ryan, CEO of Enterprise Ireland.

“Very early stage companies can face difficulties in raising external financing at this vital stage in the start-up and market launch process – this new Enterprise Ireland competitive start fund is aimed at helping them bridge this gap and quickly validate their market.

“A key focus of our software strategy is to further stimulate the emergence of internet-based companies in Ireland and to broaden their international base and scale. This new fund will help a new cohort of internet and games entrepreneurs to set up and grow successful international businesses,” Ryan said.

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