New €280k Seedcorn competition for early stage firms

10 May 2011

Some €280,000 is to be made available to support the best early stage companies in Ireland, under a new Seedcorn competition from InterTradeIreland.

Employment and growth prospects must be the focus for the next generation of early and start-up businesses and there is a need for joined up thinking across Government and industry if we are to fully deliver on the potential for this sector to be a key driver of future economic growth.

This is the message from Sean Gallagher, an InterTradeIreland Board member and ‘dragon’ from the hit RTÉ TV show Dragons’ Den, speaking at the launch of the 2011 All-Island Seedcorn Business competition.

A prize fund of €280,000 is being offered by InterTradeIreland to recognise and promote the best early stage companies on the island with the greatest investment potential.  

The Seedcorn competition mimics the real-life investment process. Companies submit their business plan and, if shortlisted, are invited to deliver an investment pitch in front of the judging panel comprising venture capitalists, business angels and some of Ireland’s leading industry experts.

The judges are looking for the same elements as a potential investor, including high growth projections, the optimum risk/reward profile, a strong management team and the ability to exit. Companies have an opportunity to compete in two categories: Best Emerging Company and Best High Growth Company.

Rules of engagement

The competition is open to all independent companies incorporated in Ireland or Northern Ireland in the seed, start-up or early stages of business development and ideally targeting international markets. Entrants should have started, managed and own the company and have not yet raised external equity in excess of €1m. Regionally, the two best early stage companies will take home at least €20,000 each before competing in the grand final for the overall €100,000 and €50,000 prizes.

“The call for businesses to stimulate growth and jobs has never been stronger and small and early business start-ups in particular have the potential to be a key driver of future economic growth,” Gallagher said.

“Collectively, there is now an onus on us all from across the private sector to Government and State-sponsored bodies to deliver the solutions to support and encourage this sector. The collective will exists; it is now a case of joining the dots between support and encouragement for budding entrepreneurs, the structures and finance available at development phase, and the right policy and business environment to allow them to grow and deliver on their potential.”

“InterTradeIreland’s Seedcorn competition is a fantastic example of this as it fosters and rewards entrepreneurship, but also guides companies on setting up the right business models in order to be scalable for future growth.”

Best high-growth company last year

Last year, Barracuda FX was named as the Best High Growth Company in the competition, winning an overall prize of €100,000.

The company provides trading and risk management software solutions to leading global banks, and was recognised for the development of its innovative Foreign Exchange Order Management System, which gives banks complete control and confidence to significantly transform their foreign exchange business by increasing revenues, reducing costs and removing operational risk.

Since taking part in the competition in November last year, the company has won significant deals with a number of overseas banks, including a global deal with HSBC, and has plans to double its staff base and open new offices in Asia and New York.

The final date for receipt of completed business plans is Friday, 16 September, at 1pm.

Regional winners will be announced in mid-November before going on to compete in the all-island grand final which takes place on 30 November in the Burlington Hotel, Dublin. Further details are available online.

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