Irish Govt reveals new €175m Seed and Venture Scheme for local firms

31 May 2013

Ireland's Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD

Ireland’s Jobs and Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton, TD, has unveiled a €175m Seed and Venture Scheme that could catalyse up to €700m in total investment in Irish indigenous companies, particularly in growing areas such as the digital, ICT, green energy and life sciences sectors.

Bruton today issued the first call for Expressions of Interest from venture capital funds seeking investment.

He said Ireland, despite its success in attracting multinational investment, will rely heavily on the success of the indigenous private sector to bring about a true economic recovery and establish the country on a growth track for decades to come.

“While the multinational sector is and will remain crucial to our industrial strategy, I am determined to ensure that we also support the creation of a powerful engine of Irish enterprise that can sustain and create the levels of employment we need. A key part of the Government’s plans to support Irish businesses is to provide access to credit for a range of different types of businesses, from micro-enterprises employing fewer than 10 people up to mid-sized and large engineering companies in need of development capital.”

Bruton is targeting an additional €525m in funding from the private sector, which will mean a total of €700m available for investment over the lifetime of the scheme. It is expected that the average initial venture investment in a company made by the funds targeted under this call could be of the order of €2m.

Under the scheme, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, through Enterprise Ireland, will make funding available for investment in private seed and venture capital funds. These funds, in turn, will invest in high-growth innovative Irish companies in fast-growing sectors, including ICT, life sciences, high-tech manufacturing and the green economy.

This first call for expressions of interest will see Enterprise Ireland committing up to €100m to venture capital funds targeting investment in the wider ICT and life sciences sectors. It is expected that over the lifetime of the scheme it will benefit hundreds of Irish companies, generate tens of millions of euros in additional export sales and create thousands of jobs. Further expressions of interest will be issued over the next two years.

This morning’s announcement took place at at Swrve, an Irish company that develops cutting-edge technology for in-app digital marketing. Founded in 2010 by Hugh Reynolds and Steve Collins, formerly of Havok, the company has raised significant amounts in venture capital funding from some of the top international names in the sector, including most recently closing a round of US$6.25m. Swrve now employs more than 40 people in its offices in Dublin and San Francisco.  

Swrve counts some of the largest game and app developers on its customer list, such as Activision, Epic Games and Irish-based Story Toys. Swrve is projecting triple-digit revenue growth in 2013.

Latest funding mechanisms from Irish Government

The scheme is part of a series of new funding mechanisms put in place by the Irish Government, which will make available a total of more than €2bn in additional non-bank lending for Irish businesses:

  • €850m through three SME funds from the NPRF
  • €450m credit guarantee scheme
  • €90m micro-finance scheme
  • €225m development capital scheme
  • €10m international start-up fund
  • €120m second call under Innovation Fund Ireland

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