Limerick IT reveals new €1m seed fund for start-ups

16 Apr 2012

Finance Minister Michael Noonan TD pictured with Silicon Valley entrepreneur John Hartnett and Dr Maria Hinfelaar, president, LIT, at the official opening the Hartnett Enterprise Acceleration Centre last year. Image credit: Kieran Clancy Picsure

In a welcome move to help start-ups in the mid-west region access early stage finance, Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) is starting a new €1m seed fund.

Details of the €1m Enterprise Ladder Fund (ELF) were announced by Finance Minister Michael Noonan today.

Start-ups in the region covering Limerick City and county, as well as Tipperary and Clare will apparently be eligible to apply for the funding.

Qualifying companies could get in the region of €10,000 to €25,000 to help them get their ventures up and going and also to help spur on job creation. According to LIT, it’s the first seed fund of its type ever announced by an Irish institute of technology.

Donors in the region have already put forward €350,000 towards the fund. These donors include Analog Devices, Grant Thornton, Holmes O’Malley Sexton solicitors, BDO, Limerick Chamber of Commerce, Ryan Group Holdings and the JP McManus Foundation.

The remaining two-thirds of the fund will be secured by year-end through similar, tax-incentivised means, LIT has confirmed.

The ELF will provide early stage financial equity for start-up companies in LIT’s existing enterprise centres. The ELF will also be open to supporting start-ups in the greater Limerick region.

The fund was instigated by the LIT Thought Leadership and Advisory Group earlier this year.

LIT president Dr Maria Hinfelaar said today that the fund was all about supporting entrepreneurship and stimulating job creation.

“Accessing early stage funding is a significant challenge for start-up companies and the ELF will bridge that gap for many start-ups at our centres in this region,” she said.

Meanwhile investor and Silicon Valley entrepreneur John Hartnett, the founder of the Irish Technology Leadership Group, is also planning to set up the European HQ of Irish Technology Capital (ITC), of which he is chairman, in Limerick City.

Apparently the ITC will base itself in Limerick this year to provide up to €1m VC funding for established companies.

Hartnett is a Limerick native and the Hartnett Enterprise Acceleration Centre at LIT has already been named after him.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic