Two-thirds of Irish start-ups warn of lack of early stage funding

20 Oct 2014

Lack of early stage funding is the top barrier to growth, according to two-thirds of start-ups in Ireland. Scaling support and the struggle to attract skilled staff are also barriers to growth.

The research, published by Amárach Research and commissioned by Start-up Ireland, also found only 16pc of Irish start-ups feel well served by Government policy, 54pc feel the start-up sector in Ireland is not represented effectively, and 78pc said the Irish start-up sector is not operating at full potential.

While a key block to start-up growth has been found to be securing early stage funding, with 69pc of survey respondents calling it out, 61pc said scaling support is a problem and attracting talent has been listed as a growth barrier in 58pc of cases.

According to the research, 30pc of start-ups in Ireland are in the ideation/pre-start-up stage, 34pc have been started less than a year ago, and 36pc started less than three years ago.  

Eighty per cent of those involved in start-ups are male, with only 20pc female.

Some 43pc are under 35 years of age, with 57pc over 35. Forty-six per cent have been involved in start-ups before but the majority are first-timers (54pc). The most popular sector for start-ups is consumer/internet (46pc), followed by business/enterprise (45pc) and mobile/apps at 26pc.

Survey responses were received from more than 280 start-ups and 21 incubation/accelerator managers around Ireland.

Make Ireland the ultimate start-up island

“The large emerging cohort of Irish-founded high-tech companies can bring the country an unprecedented level of sustainable high-value employment, innovation and domestic wealth generation,” explained Eoin Costello, co-founder, Start-up Ireland.

“Attracting international start-ups to locate in Ireland can also contribute to this. Ireland has, however, accumulated a number of unintentional obstacles to entrepreneurs and start-ups that slow down their formation and growth. This survey is highly representative of Ireland’s start-up sector and, given the essential role of the sector in job creation, some of its findings on these obstacles are very thought provoking.

“The recent publication by Minister (for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard) Bruton of Ireland’s first National Policy Statement is a great step in the right direction. Our aim is to complement the minister’s strategy through our Vision2020 plan with the goal of Ireland becoming a global start-up hub by 2020, a ‘Start-up Island’.”

Costello said Dublin has the potential to be the best place in the world to establish a high-impact technology start-up.

“However, a strategic plan urgently needs to be implemented which will bring together in a more co-ordinated way the commitment of a wide range of public, private and voluntary sector stakeholders needed to drive future growth and success in our start-up sector,” Costello added.

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