Start-ups to vie for €100,000 prize fund at Limerick IT on Thursday

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Dr Lisa O'Donoghue, ALR, Frank Walsh, AIB, Enterprise Equity, and Dr Maria Hinfelaar, president of Limerick Institute of Technology

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One of nine start-ups on Limerick Institute of Technology’s current LEAP incubator programme for early stage ventures is set to get its hands on a €75,000 cash injection this coming Thursday evening at the institute’s annual business awards and graduation.

The total €100,000 awards fund that will be presented to the winning start-ups tomorrow evening is sponsored by AIB Seed Capital, along with Holmes O’Malley Sexton, HDS Partnership, the Discovery Partnership and Limerick Chamber of Commerce.

The overall Limerick Enterprise Acceleration Platform (LEAP) winner tomorrow evening will receive equity, and cash plus supports to the value of more than €75,000.

As part of the prize package, LIT said the overall winner will get an offer of equity investment from AIB Seed Capital to the tune of €50,000 to provide access to capital during the critical growth curve.  

The winner will also receive a cheque from LIT of €5,000 and €25,000 worth of advice, including legal advice from Limerick law firm Holmes O’Malley Sexton and mentoring from The Discovery Partnership. The winner will also receive free membership from Limerick Chamber.

The second-placed company in the awards will receive a package worth €15,000, including €5,000 in cash – also from LIT – plus legal and mentoring supports and Limerick Chamber membership.  

Finally, the third-placed company will receive €1,500 in cash, as well as similar supports.  

There will also be a ‘Best Intellectual Property’ award with a €1,000 cash prize that HDS Partnership is sponsoring.

What is LEAP?

LEAP is an incubator programme for early stage companies. LIT said that of the 73 companies that participated in LEAP over its first five years between 2007 to 2011, today 59 of them are sustainable businesses employing circa 250 people between them.

And, since last year, programme participants get to benefit from what is a unique link for an Irish institute as they spend one week at the Irish Innovation Centre in Silicon Valley.

The eight start-ups are drawn from the counties of Limerick, Tipperary and Clare. They have spent the past year on the LEAP programme. The intensive 12-month programme is based out of LIT’s Hartnett Enterprise Centre at its Moylish, Limerick, campus.

The companies are Lavida Food from Clare, SensorLog from Clare, Business Consult from Limerick, ALR Innovations from Limerick, Interaction Designs from Tipperary, Eventmaster from Clare, Tech Part from Limerick, NeverMind Games from Tipperary and Dual Pad from Limerick.

LEAP is now recruiting for its 2012/2013 programme.

Back in April, LIT also announced it was starting a new €1m seed fund for start-ups. Details of the €1m Enterprise Ladder Fund (ELF) were announced by Finance Minister Michael Noonan at the time.

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

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.

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Carmel was a long-time reporter with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com