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Dragons defy the slump to splash cash in new series

THE new series of RTE's Dragon's Den will be breathing fire into Irish businesses when it returns to our small screens next month.

And the Herald can reveal that despite the economic downturn, the five Dragons have invested even more cash this time around, thanks to the high quality of the pitches from aspiring entrepreneurs.

This year sees the acid-tongued panel splashing out significantly more than the €500,000 they plunged into start-off Irish companies during the 2009 series.

"It's going to have the exact same format as before, with the same panel and the same presenter -- it's very similar to the BBC's version," explained producer Larry Bass of ShinAwil.

"We have a great selection of contestants this time around and I would love to think the quality of the pitches were better this year.

"What's interesting is that we have had more investment than we did last year. I can't go into specifics about exact amounts but considering the current climate we're in, that's a very good sign."

However, the hopefuls taking part certainly had to work for their money after the final stages of filming for the new series, which starts on RTE 2 on February 25, was hit by the recent big freeze.


Mr Bass revealed how they filmed the series in Taylors Three Rock pub near the Dublin mountains which was very badly affected by the recent weather conditions.

"It was a total nightmare as the location was snow covered on all sides so fair play to everyone who managed to make it in to us to make their pitches. We only lost two people who just couldn't make it in, but we had a couple travel down from places as far away as Donegal which was astonishing. It was a testament to their drive and ambition."

The range of business was extensive, with several imaginative entrepreneurs concentrating on making money from the waste industry.

"It really amazed me that we saw pitches for four or five products to do with bins but then again, they say there's money in bins so maybe they're onto a winner," said Mr Bass.

Last year, Dragon Sarah Newman was the only panellist not to invest a single cent of her hard-earned cash.

And she says she won't be softening her approach as she feels no pressure to plunge money into a business that she doesn't believe in 100pc.

"It's my money and, if anything, I'll probably be even tighter than I was with it first time around. That said, I really, really do want to get an investment. Because I want to work with somebody, and I don't want to feel that I've wasted two weeks of my life sitting in a chair," she said.