News & Events

Minister English launches Enterprise Ireland’s €1m Competitive Start Fund for early-stage start-ups

Damien English TD, Minister for Business, Employment and Retail, has invited entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial teams to apply for Enterprise Ireland’s €1m Competitive Start Fund (CSF) which is now open for applications from ambitious founders of early-stage start-ups.  

The competition is open to early-stage companies from all sectors with an eligible innovative product or service set for global markets. The fund will award up to €50,000 in equity funding for up to 20 successful applicants.

The CSF aims to increase the number of diverse High Potential Start-Ups (HPSUs) that have the potential and ambition to succeed internationally. The fund is designed to help start-ups reach key commercial and technical milestones, including evaluating overseas market opportunities, building prototypes, developing market entry plans, and securing third-party investment.

The closing date for applications is at 3pm on 25 May 2021.

Launching the CSF today, Damien English TD, Minister for Business, Employment and Retail said:

“This €1 million of funding will provide a critical boost for innovative entrepreneurs and companies in Ireland at the start of their journey, helping them to drive forward their pioneering products and services.

“As the country moves towards a post pandemic jobs-led national economic recovery, targeted initiatives such as the Competitive Start Fund will help to build the businesses of tomorrow and propel their future prosperity. I’m delighted to launch the fund today and would encourage companies to make the most of the opportunity to realise their global aspirations and turn their ideas into an international commercial reality.”

Manager of Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up Division, Jenny Melia added:

“At Enterprise Ireland we are committed to helping Irish innovators by backing entrepreneurs and start-ups with the early-stage funding needed to scale internationally. Each successful company will receive a €50,000 investment as well as mentoring opportunities with an extensive team of Enterprise Ireland experts and access to entrepreneurial networks which will help companies kick-start their journey to global success. We’re very excited to see what the next generation of innovative Irish businesses will achieve, and we look forward to working alongside the successful applicants to help them grow further.”

Previous CSF winner, Ciaran Brennan, Founder and CEO of construction software company LiveCosts said:

“Securing the investment through the CSF was a pivotal moment for our business. The resources helped us to develop our cost-tracking software and turn a fledgling prototype into a real solution for SMEs in the sector. The support also allowed us to accelerate our plans to expand internationally and we now have clients in Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

“Receiving the funding from the CSF came just before a really challenging time for the industry as we faced the dual threats of Covid-19 and Brexit, but the strong foundation we had built allowed us to overcome the obstacles and even see the opportunities that come from such huge challenges.”

A number of CSF application-support workshops will be held online by the national Business Innovation Centres (BICs) over the coming weeks. Details of these workshops, as well as the Competitive Start Fund application form and eligibility criteria, can be accessed on the Enterprise Ireland website at


Notes to Editor

Individual entrepreneurs, early-stage companies or prospective businesses must be active in the Manufacturing & Internationally Traded Services sectors, including the following subsectors: Agtech, Cleantech, Consumer Products, e-Health, Enterprise Software, Fintech, Food, Games, Industrial Products, Lifesciences, Manufacturing, Medical Technologies & Devices, Mobile, Renewables, SAAS / Digital Technologies, Engineering / Electronics, Green Technologies / Climate Change Solutions, Deeptech, Internet of Things (IOT), Artificial Reality (AR) / Virtual Reality (VR), Data Intelligence, Quantum Computing.