Irish start-ups to get €90m funding in State’s bid to boost innovation

9 Feb 2022

Image: © Feodora/Stock.adobe.com

A new fund will be co-financed by the Department of Enterprise, the European Investment Fund and the Irish Strategic Investment Fund.

The Government has today (9 February) launched a new €90m investment fund aimed at Irish start-ups.

Investment from the Irish Innovation Seed Fund will be targeted and prioritised to boost areas such as regional development, climate action and women in entrepreneurship.

Future Human

It will focus, in particular, on sectors that have experienced difficulty in attracting early-stage investment in the past. These include life sciences, healthcare and pharma, fintech, technology and digitalisation, food and agritech, sustainability and the climate crisis, and women-led enterprises.

The move is part of the State’s plan to support more early-stage companies, following appeals from groups such as the Irish Venture Capital Association and Scale Ireland.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, TD, said last October as part of Budget 2022 that Government funding would help ramp up early-stage start-up investment in Ireland.

Commenting today, Donohue said that the new fund “will increase early-stage funding for SMEs and is an important step in supporting our indigenous, high-innovation enterprises to reach their full potential”.

The fund is being co-financed by the Department of Enterprise, the European Investment Fund (EIF) and the Irish Strategic Investment Fund, each of which will provide €30m. The EIF will manage the fund, which will be structured on a fund-of-funds basis led by Enterprise Ireland.

The launch of the fund took place at Trinity College Dublin’s ideas workspace, Tangent. It was attended by Donohoe and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, as well as European Investment Bank vice-president Christian Kettel Thomsen and EIF chief executive Alain Godard.

The first call for proposals under the fund will be made later this week on the EIF’s website. The fund is expected to exist for 10 years, with the first investments being made within three years.

‘A new chapter’

Speaking at the launch, Thomsen said the fund builds on the European Investment Bank’s recent support for Irish companies impacted by Brexit and innovation investment at Irish universities.

“The new fund will allow entrepreneurial Irish companies in the life science, digital technologies, fintech and environmental sectors to harness new opportunities and compete globally.”

Godard added that the initiative opened “a new chapter of successful EIF cooperation in Ireland building on top of EIF financing of approximately €1bn over the last two years.”

Scale Ireland CEO Martina Fitzgerald welcomed news of the fund, calling it an “important boost for early-stage start-ups”, while Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy said it would drive future jobs and economic growth.

Enterprise Ireland recently launched its new three-year strategy, which involves supporting high-potential start-ups (HPSUs) at an increased scale. In 2021, the agency supported 125 HPSUs and it aims to grow its cohort of HPSUs by 20pc over the next three years.

Its HPSU lead, Jenny Melia, recently reflected on how Ireland’s tech start-up community has transformed over the last two decades.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com