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€500,000 in new funding to attract international start-ups to locate to Ireland

Enterprise Ireland launches new Competitive Start Fund aimed at overseas entrepreneurs and Irish diaspora

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD and the Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash TD, today (Monday) announced a new €500,000 Competitive Start Fund aimed at encouraging entrepreneurs outside Ireland to locate their start-up businesses here. The Fund which provide up to €50,000 in equity support for 10 successful applicants to start their own businesses in internationally focused manufacturing or internationally traded services.

The new Fund is part of Enterprise Ireland’s strategy for increasing the number and quality of High Potential Start-Up Companies (HPSUs) that have the potential to employ more than 10 persons and achieve €1 million in export sales within 3 years. Targeting start-ups and early stage companies that have the capability to succeed in global markets, the objective is to attract international entrepreneurs and members of the Irish diaspora to start, scale and succeed from Ireland, ultimately creating jobs in Ireland.

Applications are welcome from individuals and early-stage companies of all nationalities. All applicants must undertake to register as an Irish company prior to Enterprise Ireland investment. The majority of the management team/promoters must also undertake to be based in Ireland for at least one year post investment. Full details on the eligibility criteria is available on the Enterprise Ireland website

The new Competitive Start Fund will coincide with the Startup Gathering. A major initiative of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs, Startup Gathering 2015 is a national week of events taking place across Ireland from the 5th to 10th October, which sets out to champion startups in Ireland and raise the profile of Ireland's startup sector to international entrepreneurs.

Today’s announcement is part of a broader strategy, laid out in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs, aimed at encouraging international talent into Ireland to augment the existing seedbed of Irish entrepreneurship and start-ups. Home to some of the world’s leading companies, and an acknowledged leader in key innovative sectors including ICT, Financial Services, Life Sciences, and Food & Beverages, Ireland is the perfect location for start-ups to establish, grow and service key world markets.

Making the announcement Minister Bruton said: “As I have repeatedly said, we have great entrepreneurs and start-up businesses in Ireland - we just don’t have enough of them. That is why we are specifically targeting international talent as part of our Action Plan for Jobs. As well as attracting international entrepreneurs to Ireland, this fund will also help attract back those talented Irish graduates who have gained international experience and who would now like to return to Ireland to start a business. This initiative will make a real contribution to creating more new businesses and jobs in Ireland”.

Applications will be considered on a competitive basis by a panel of judges which includes three successful entrepreneurs, and the financial support will be in the form of equity investment. The ultimate objective is creating and sustaining jobs in Ireland. The website for online applications will open on Wednesday 26th August 2015 and close on Wednesday 9th September 2015.

Welcoming the announcement Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD, said: “Two-thirds of all new jobs are created by start-ups in their first five years of existence - that is why we are taking action to encourage international start-ups, and indeed our own diaspora, to locate in Ireland. By actively targeting international start-ups, we hope to encourage more new businesses to start-up, expand and create jobs here in Ireland. The fact that judging will take place during the Startup Gathering will also give the finalists a great opportunity to experience our startup ecosystem for themselves.”

Applications for the Fund will be made online and the 20 best applicants will be invited to Ireland to pitch competitively for the 10 available investments. The evaluation of projects is timed to coincide with the Startup Gathering 2015 taking place from 5th-10th October planned to be one of the world’s biggest national start-up events. Funding up to a maximum of €1,000 will be paid to the 20 finalists to enable them travel to Ireland and experience the Startup Gathering which has events planned across 5 days, 5 cities and 5 industries, promoting entrepreneurship, innovation and Ireland’s start-up ecosystem.

Kevin Sherry, Head of High Potential Start Ups at Enterprise Ireland, added: “Each year Enterprise Ireland supports over 400 start-ups. By introducing a specific Fund targeting overseas entrepreneurs and the Irish diaspora, Enterprise Ireland is strongly promoting Ireland to entrepreneurs as a great place to start a business. We are looking for new start-up companies to locate in Ireland where our world-class start-up ecosystem will allow them start, scale and succeed - ultimately providing valuable jobs here into the future”.

Welcoming today’s announcement, Eoin Costello, CEO of Startup Ireland, the organisation leading the Startup Gathering said: “Attracting the next Google or Facebook to Ireland in their early years is vital for job creation and innovation in our country. Enterprise Ireland’s announcement is very significant for Ireland’s startup sector and accelerates the goals of the Startup Gathering which is focused on increasing the talent pool in Ireland and raising the international profile of Ireland’s startup sector to international entrepreneurs and investors. Ultimately our goal is to make Ireland a global startup hub by 2020 and attracting more international entrepreneurs to start, scale, succeed from Ireland is central to this”.

The website for online applications will open on Wednesday 26th August and close on Wednesday 9th September 2015


For more information contact Alan Hobbs, Enterprise Ireland, ph. (o) 7272904 (mob) 0868699703 or

Notes to Editors

Overseas Competitive Start Fund – Eligibility Criteria:

  • The Fund is open to an individual or a company.
  • An applicant, whether an individual or company, must undertake to register a company in Ireland prior to Enterprise Ireland's investment. Enterprise Ireland will invest only in the Irish registered company. Where the applicant is an existing company, the new Irish registered company should not be a subsidiary of the existing company – but it could, for example, have the same shareholders as the existing company.
  • The majority of the management team/promoters must undertake to be based in Ireland for at least one year post investment (e.g. if there are two persons in the current management, at least one person must move to Ireland).
  • Must be a manufacturing or an eligible traded services business (the eligible services as listed in the Service Industries Order 2010);
  • Must not have received equity funding of more than €100K prior to the competition closing date. Equity includes Ordinary shares, Convertible Preference Shares, Convertible Loan Notes and Directors Loans. Sweat equity does not apply;
  • Must be pre-trading or recently commenced trading, i.e. does not have annual revenues in excess of €60k in the current financial year to date or in any previous financial year;
  • Must be less than five years old from date of registration;
  • Must be capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising sales of €1m within 3 years of starting up* or, where a company is required to have FDA or CE approval, within three years of approval to sell;
  • Must not be involved in activities that fall within the gambling sector (services to the gambling sector are eligible provided income streams are not linked to amounts gambled) or the "adult entertainment", tobacco or military sectors;
  • Applicants must be eligible to live and work in Ireland. If their current visa status does not allow them to run a business in Ireland they must regularise their visa situation before receiving an investment. Enterprise Ireland has a help-desk to advise non EU applicants on the relevant rules.

The Startup Gathering 2015 is being led by Startup Ireland, a public private not-for-profit partnership dedicated to the goal of making Ireland the best place in the world to create and scale a startup. The initiative is being championed by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD, together with the Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD, who is chairing the Startup Gathering National Steering Group. Under the theme 'Start, Scale and Succeed from Ireland', Startup Gathering 2015 aims to promote entrepreneurship and help develop world class regional startup hubs around the existing industry strengths in each region to accelerate the growth of startups and scaleups in Ireland. It is also focused on raising the profile of Ireland’s startup sector to global entrepreneurs, investors and R&D teams.