Irish business angel-backed start-ups nail it – break €55m investment milestone

25 Oct 2013

(From left) John Phelan, who heads up the Halo Business Angel Partnership at Dublin BIC, and Brian Fitzpatrick, managing director, Oriel Sea Salt Company

They say it’s always good to have an angel on your side. Early stage companies in Ireland have secured a combined €55m from angel investors via 128 deals over the past six years. The Halo Business Angel Partnership (HBAP) said 60pc of this angel funding came from individual business angels who have invested ‘hard cash up-front’.

Syndicate groups are making up the remaining 40pc that has been invested in Irish start-ups that have received the €55m investment.

Welcome news for tech start-ups looking to generate finance

HBAP said the start-ups around Ireland it supports – helping them connect with business-angel networks and individual investors, and vice-versa – crossed the €55m total investment milestone since the organisation was founded six years ago.

While technology start-ups are the main players attracting and securing investment, the latest company to secure angel backing is Oriel Sea Salt Company.

Based in Clogherhead, Co Louth, Oriel Sea Salt Company received the investment from a private investor who was introduced by HBAP as part of a €1m round of funding.

The start-ups harvests from the sea to produce a sea salt that apparently has lower sodium levels. The company is starting to make an impact with artisan food producer sectors and the hospitality industry, especially as the EU has set regulations on salt levels.

John Delany, who heads up Oriel Sea Salt Company, said that generating traditional bank finance for start-ups is “challenging” right now.

“Our initial angel investment was huge in terms of boosting the interest and served as a catalyst in bringing in our other investors,” he said.

The Irish angel-investing scene in 2013

Other angel-backed companies this year include Mick’s Garage, Betapond and Decawave.

Between them, 18 Irish start-ups raised €10m investment in the first three quarters of 2013, of which the catalyst was €2.5m angel funding. Combined, these 18 companies are employing 200 people.

John Phelan, who heads up HBAP at the Dublin Business Innovation Centre (DBIC), explained that while €23m has been invested by angel investors brought to the table by the HBAP over the last six years, the balance of €32.5m was committed by seed funds, Enterprise Ireland and other private investors.

“The fact that angel investors have invested hard cash up front has played a key role in attracting further investment,” he said.

Apparently, Ireland is regarded in European circles as one of the best countries in Europe in terms of angel funding.

This year, HBAP was shortlisted by the European Business Angel Network in the category of Business Angel Network of the Year.

HBAP is managed by the Dublin Business Innovation Centre on behalf of the Association of EC Business Innovation Centres (BICs) in Ireland. Other such BICs include Cork BIC, West BIC, SEBIC and Dublin BIC. They work in partnership with Enterprise Ireland and InterTradeIreland.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic