Sunday 24 March 2019

Enterprise Ireland seeks ‘quality over quantity’ as spend falls

Investment: EI’s class of 2018, made up of 132 startups, with Business Minister Heather Humphreys, EI CEO Julie Sinnamon and chairman Terence O’Rourke, and EI’s Joe Healy and Sheelagh Daly. PHOTO: SHANE O’NEILL/SON PHOTOGRAPHIC
Investment: EI’s class of 2018, made up of 132 startups, with Business Minister Heather Humphreys, EI CEO Julie Sinnamon and chairman Terence O’Rourke, and EI’s Joe Healy and Sheelagh Daly. PHOTO: SHANE O’NEILL/SON PHOTOGRAPHIC
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Enterprise Ireland invested approximately 25pc less in startup companies last year than in 2017.

In 2018 the state agency responsible for the development and growth of Irish companies in global markets invested in start-ups to the tune of €23m, down from €31m in 2017.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Joe Healy, manager of the high potential start-up division of EI, said there were still very high levels of investment in start-ups, however its focus has shifted.

“We are focusing on companies of quality that demonstrate a high potential to grow internationally and create jobs ensuring return on investment for the state,” Mr Healy said. He added interest in entrepreneurship here was “higher than ever.”

“In 2018 alone, Enterprise Ireland received over 1,300 start-up enquiries, representing a 30pc increase on the previous year.”

Overall the agency supported a total of 132 start-up companies last year, down from 181 in 2017.

With just 42 days to go before the UK leaves the EU, Mr Healy said companies were viewing Brexit as an opportunity, particularly those operating in the tech sector.

“Even in today’s challenging business climate with Brexit looming, the appetite and enthusiasm amongst entrepreneurs is strong,” he added.

Among the companies supported last year by Enterprise Ireland, 82 were classified as high potential start-ups – that is, businesses with the potential to create 10 jobs and €1m in sales within three to four years of establishment.

The majority of these firms – 49 – were in the Eastern and Midlands region. The remaining 33 were based in either the Southern region or the Northern Western region.

Investment was provided in the form of equity through Competitive Start Funds (CSF) and High Potential Start-Up funding programmes by the Department of Business, through Enterprise Ireland.

Funding awarded to start-ups in 2018 included two calls for up to €1.5m in funding.

In addition, the agency provided €500,000 in funding targeting recent graduates, while €750,000 in funding was made available through a fintech and deep tech CSF.

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