Seedcorn contest for start-ups launches with €280k fund

29 Apr 2013

Connor Sweeney, Seedcorn project manager at InterTradeIreland, and Dr Antonio Ruzelli, CEO of Dublin-based Wattics, the emerging category winner in last year's competition

InterTradeIreland has launched this year’s all-island Seedcorn competition for start-ups and early stage ventures. In all, a prize fund worth €280,000 will be divided up amongst the winning start-ups. This year, the contest aims to mirror the real-life investment process that start-ups have to go through.

Seedcorn’s project manager Connor Sweeney said the competition has been adapted this year to reflect the funding and investment landscape that SMEs are working in. As a result, the competition is aiming to imitate the real-life investment process.

Sweeney said the goal would be to encourage even more young companies that are looking to raise finance to enter the Seedcorn competition and get access to free workshops and master classes.

The competition will have a cash prize fund of €280,000 and InterTradeIreland will not be taking an equity stake in the winning start-ups.

Two new categories, ‘New Start’ and ‘Early Stage’, have also been introduced. This year, companies can also submit a short video clip or slide deck presentation entry as part of the initial application process.

One overall early stage winner will get €100,000, while the new start company winner will get €50,000. Six regional winners will be awarded €20,000 each, while a €10,000 award will be given to a company that is a university spin-out.

Sweeney said entrants will be provided with independent feedback at every stage of the competition to help improve their investor-readiness.

A selection panel will shortlist initial applications, and successful applicants will then submit their full business plans.

If they are shortlisted, start-ups will then deliver an investment pitch in front of a judging panel comprising venture capitalists, business angels, industry entrepreneurs and business experts.  

Belfast company Catagen was the other overall 2012 winner. Meanwhile, Dublin-based clean-tech firm Wattics was the emerging category winner in last year’s competition. The company’s co-founder and CEO Dr Antonio Ruzzelli said the judging process in the regional and all-island finals forced Wattics to refine its business plan to become more investor-ready.

“Since our win last year, we have secured a number of key customers in Ireland, the UK, Europe and South Africa. Our next focus is to distribute our software solution worldwide through direct sales and indirect partnerships with key players in the energy market,” said Ruzzelli.

The closing date for applications from start-ups for this year’s competition is 28 June.

Regional winners will be announced in November before they go on to compete in the all-island final later that month.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic