The year gone by has been a positive one for start-up companies. In the face of adversity, it has been the innovative and resourceful that thrived and there has been no shortage of interest in funding start-ups and SMEs, which many believe are the new backbone of our wavering economy.
Indeed are some 230,000 of these firms contributing more than €10bn to the Exchequer annually and employing around 900,000 people, according to the small and medium-sized business association Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME).
Listed below are some of the highlights of the year for SMEs and start-ups, as well as Government and venture capital funding, in the year that was.
Minister O’Keeffe launches €85m fund for new high-tech firms
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keeffe announced an €85m venture-capital fund that will help high-tech firms in Ireland get off the ground. He described the fund as a "significant boost for Ireland’s venture-capital sector, which is critical to developing scalable Irish firms".
Government provides extra €55m for high-potential start-ups
The Government said that €55m in funding for so-called high-potential start-up (HPSU) firms would be provided and would generate sales of more than €1m annually within three years to give early-stage entrepreneurs capital to get their businesses off the ground.
O’Keeffe said that the companies must employ more than 10 workers and must also have an experienced team at the helm that can boast a mixture of technical and commercial skills.
Angel investors raise €4m for investing in early stage companies
The Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) announced that its members raised €4m in 2009 to support early stage enterprises in Ireland via regional networks and investment syndicates. This would go on to create and Irish angel capital industry to support early stage investments, specifically in high-tech enterprises, HBAN said.
The group came together last year with the objective of creating a €6m fund that would initially support up to 20 early stage ventures.
The funding is expected to enable Socowave to accelerate the development of technology that substantially increases the data handling capacity of cellular radio infrastructure whilst reducing the energy consumption.
10 small businesses receive €133,000 in grant funding
Ten North Dublin businesses were presented grant approval status to the total tune of €133,000 each by An Taoiseach Brian Cowen, as the first companies to benefit from the €3.3m allocation fund for the County and City Enterprise Boards.
The start-ups were aiming to create up to 47 full-time and five part-time jobs in Fingal over the next 12 months.
University of Limerick chip firm raises €2m from Bank of Ireland venture capital arm
ChipSensors, a fabless semiconductor company, producing novel silicon sensors measuring temperature, humidity and certain gases, received a €2m investment from a consortium of investors, led by the Bank of Ireland. The funding will be used to enhance the firm’s sales and marketing channels for its temperature and humidity sensor chips, the firm said.
KidSpotter draws €400,000 funding
Child safety technology company KidSpotter received €200,000 in private funding from HBAN Investor Syndicates on top of the €200,000 it already has secured from Enterprise Ireland.
The funding will allow them to invest further in product development, sales and marketing, as well as pursue a range of commercial opportunities, said the firm.