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Startup Business Grants & Supports Ireland

by Deirdre O Meara
learning about business grants supports

Need startup grants, supports, or other funding options for your new business? Starting a business is an exciting new journey. But it can be harder than you think to get it off the ground.

Even with the right business plan, you will still need seed funding to turn your plans into reality. Otherwise, you will have to expand your staff and operations and develop new skills to manage business growth effectively. 

There are different options that you can explore regarding government startup grants. These grants support small businesses to expand and enter international markets. Generally, there are more grants available for limited companies in Ireland. Therefore, it is highly advisable to open up a company instead of staying a sole trader. 

business grants supports ireland

Grants and supports available in Ireland

Here are some of the key grants and supports available in Ireland for startup and small businesses:

Bank Finance

When growing your new business, you need to talk with your bank about various funding options. Bank financing has different features that appeal to early-stage growth businesses and small companies. You can conveniently calculate your repayments and apply for a loan.

Local Enterprise Office

Your LEO or Local Enterprise Office can advise you and provide you with information and support on starting your business in Ireland. Whether you are a sole trader or a limited company, LEO can assist you with grants and support. 

Each country in Ireland has its own LEO, and it supports the businesses in the county with its grants and support. The support and grants available from LEOs are training programs, mentoring, Brexit support, and various other financial supports. 

Enterprise Ireland

It is an organization that helps limited companies grow into the markets. Usually, entrepreneurs begin by visiting their local LEOs. And when they are ready to expand their business activities and improve efficiency and sales, they visit Enterprise Ireland for additional support. 

There is more support available from Enterprise Ireland. But EI has stricter qualifying criteria for businesses that want to avail of it. EI’s client does come with its benefits, so you will immediately see some results in your business growth. 

EI offers different support and grants. These include the Business Financial Planning Grant, Digitization Vouchers, Mentor Grants, Market Discovery Funds, and LeanStart.

If you are a high-potential startup, EI is looking for you. In such a scenario, you need to be a company that can develop an innovative service or product to sell in the international market. You can generate 10 jobs and EUR 1 million in export sales within the first three years of starting the business.

EI has different programs to support such a startup. These include New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme, Innovation Voucher, HPSU Feasibility Grant, Innovative HPSU Fund, and Competitive Start Fund. 

NDRC

NDRC is another early-stage investor that deals explicitly with tech companies. It aims to identify startups and other founding teams who meet a global unmet market issue.

The companies that go to NDRC for grants and support have the following structure: 

  • They have a deep knowledge of technology.
  • They have a scalable global service or product proposition. 
  • The company can be revenue-generating and investor-ready within half a year. 
  • They have a solid technical and support team. 

BICs

BICs or Business innovation centres are private organizations that assist entrepreneurs in starting or scaling their businesses. Each region in Ireland has its own BIC, such as Cork BIC, Dublin BIC, South East BIC, and West BIC. These BICs offer investor-ready preparations, incubation space, and raising finance.

Innovation vouchers

If you own or manage a small business and a limited company, you can directly apply for an innovation voucher worth EUR 5000 and fund your immediate business needs. 

Similarly, you can also go for an innovation grant for running your feasibility study to assess the viability of your prospective business. Under this grant, you will receive EUR 15000, and you won’t have to return the money. 

Support for Women Entrepreneurs

There are various support programs and funds for women entrepreneurs. These include:

Women founded HSPUs

These HSPUs are founded by women entrepreneurs, except they are very similar to standard HSPUs. But the funding requirements are similar here. You can contact Enterprise Ireland to initiate your support and funding. 

Going for Growth

This small organization is also developed for the women entrepreneurs of Ireland if they are serious about growing their business. You will have to be an owner or manager of an established business and be the primary shareholder or key influencer within a company’s operations. 

Competitive Start Fund – Women Entrepreneurship

Enterprise Ireland (EI) also invites women entrepreneurs and various other entrepreneurial teams currently at an early stage of their business development to compete for funding and expand their businesses in internationally traded services and manufacturing.

Rubicon

Rubicon offers an Exxcel Programme under the Cork Institute of Technology. The program supports a new business idea with a high export and growth potential, and the idea needs to be in the field of technology, science, math, or engineering. The program is delivered across six months and involves continuous coaching and mentoring. 

Support for startups moving to Ireland

Enterprise Ireland

Again, Enterprise Ireland (EI) offers investment and pre-investment support to startups planning to move to Ireland. Investment support includes assisting projects moving in from overseas that are investor-ready and meet all criteria. 

Pre-investment support includes projects that meet other criteria and have made some progress but are not completely investor-ready. EI can offer some participants on these accelerator programs a grant to cover their living costs. 

Immigrant Investor Programme

This program is open to all non-EEA nationals who can commit to an approved investment in the country of Ireland. This program requires an investment of EUR 1 million at minimum from the applicants, and the investment should not be loaned or funded through any other such facility. 

Startup Entrepreneur Program

This program allows a non-EEA to possess an innovative business proposal and minimum funding of EUR 50,000 to come to Ireland and set up a business. There is an application fee of EUR 350, and you can apply for this program online.

IDA Ireland

It is a statutory agency developed to assist businesses in setting up and expanding in Ireland. They assist entrepreneurs with the benefits of doing business in this country. The agency can advise you on a wide range of funding programs and incentives to help you set up your business in Ireland

Back for Business 

This agency aims at supporting returned emigrants or people who are planning to return and live in Ireland and set up their businesses. This program is ideal for returning emigrants who have lived abroad for a year and returned to Ireland in the last 3 years. The applicants should have recently started their businesses or advanced in their business plans. 

Government support for starting a business in Ireland

Back to Work Enterprise Allowance

If you receive social welfare payments like jobseeker’s benefits or allowance or are currently unemployed, you can apply for this program. You will be able to retain some portion of your payments for about a couple of years. But you must be under 66 and have been continuously receiving jobseeker’s allowance or benefit for the past nine months.

Short-term Enterprise Allowance

This allowance enables people who have lost their jobs to start their businesses. You must receive a jobseeker’s allowance or benefit without working part-time to receive this support. Your entitlement for this program is not affected by any grants from any local development company, and you can receive this support for up to nine months. 

Private Support for Startup

Propeller Venture Accelerator Program

Ryan Academy DCU runs propeller ventures accelerator programs for technology startups early. With this three-month accelerator program, you can avail up to EUR 30,000 seed funding along with EUR 15,000 against service costs for entrepreneurs with winning ideas. 

LaunchBox 

Here is another accelerator program that is open to a team of Trinity students with early-stage businesses. Participants of these programs receive funding, mentorship, and office space with network support.

Startupbootcamp Ireland

This program is a global network for industry-focused startup accelerators. The aim here is to take startups internationally by providing them direct access to international networks or relevant partners, meteors, and inventors in their sectors. 

Final Comments

There are various options that you can explore when funding your new business. As long as you have an innovative idea and mindset, entering the Irish market and boosting your sales won’t be a real problem for you. But you need to have a sound business plan and execution strategy in place!

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