A NEW competition for young entrepreneurs is being launched to find the best start-up company in the country.
In an 'X-Factor' crossed with 'Dragons' Den'-style contest, the competition will have a fund of €2m and will pick county, provincial and national winners.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton is also to examine the business training being provided by colleges to see what third-level institution is best preparing graduates to become entrepreneurs.
The minister is going to look at the best practice in colleges and get other institutions to do the same work.
He mentioned Trinity College Dublin, DIT, UCD and UCC as examples of colleges with impressive entrepreneurship programmes.
Mr Bruton said the Government wanted to create a culture of people setting up their own businesses – focusing on women and young people.
"Increasingly you are seeing entrepreneurship is not just something for business graduates," he said.
"Technology is making it easier to start up. ICT has reduced the barriers of entry," he added.
The young entrepreneurship competition will see each area of the country having a fund of €70,000 to award to the best three start-ups, with additional awards for regional and national winners.
The criteria for winning the competition would include job creation potential, relevance to the local area, adoption of new technologies and the capacity to scale and grow exports.
Mr Bruton said entrepreneurs were the "heroes" of the economic recovery.
"These are the people who are taking the risks," he said.
To build on the culture of entrepreneurship, he said the Government needed to work on a host of areas, including developing a lack of a fear of failing, mentoring, micro-finance and seed capital.
"We are going to use these concepts of people competing to have access to funding," he said.
The young entrepreneurship programme will be part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2014 to be launched this morning by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mr Bruton.
The plan aims at creating 100,000 jobs over the lifetime of the Government.
"I think we will deliver the 100,000 jobs," Mr Bruton said.
The minister said when the process began, most critics said the target would not be reached.