The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD and the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD have launched a new €90m fund for Irish start-ups at Trinity College Dublin’s Tangent Ideas Workspace for student entrepreneurs.
By investing in several underlying venture funds, the Irish Innovation Seed Fund Programme will provide vital capital to innovative Irish companies at the crucial seed stage and will be an important step in developing and growing the Irish equity ecosystem.
Investment will be targeted and prioritised in areas such as regional development, climate change and female entrepreneurship. It will focus on sectors that have experienced difficulty in attracting early stage investment including:
• Healthcare & Pharma
• Technology & Digitalisation
• Food & Agri-Tech
• Sustainability & Climate Change
• Women-Led Enterprises
Launching the Programme, An Tánaiste said, “this is about backing Irish entrepreneurs and their ideas at an early stage, giving them a much-needed boost from the beginning. We’re looking for companies working in a number of areas we’ve identified as strategic opportunities for Ireland but have traditionally struggled in attracting early-stage investment, including Lifesciences, Healthcare and Pharma and those working to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.”
“One of my three priorities as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment is to get to the point where we’ve 2.5 million people at work in Ireland by 2024, which would be the highest level of employment we’ve ever had in the country. This Fund is an important part of that, we have to reward those creating the jobs of the future and help them reach the next stage of development. I’m particularly pleased to see that there will be a focus on women led enterprises. We’ve traditionally seen a deficit in funding go to start-ups with female leadership teams and I think we need to correct that imbalance.”
Minister Donohoe said, “I am very pleased to announce the launch of the €90 million Irish Innovation Seed Fund Programme today. This Programme will increase early-stage funding for SMEs and is an important step in supporting our indigenous, high innovation enterprises to reach their full potential.”
“The Irish Innovation Seed Fund Programme brings together three experienced partners in SME funding, each allocating up to €30 million – the European Investment Fund, Enterprise Ireland and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund participating as a co-investor. The growth of indigenous business is a cornerstone of our economic model and working together, these funding partners will deliver an ambitious programme which will support our SMEs now, and as they innovate for future growth.”
Leo Clancy, CEO of Enterprise Ireland said, “since Enterprise Ireland first established our programme of venture funding in Ireland over 28 years ago, the landscape has evolved significantly. Over that time, we have committed €630m to venture funds that have, to date, supported more than 750 Irish companies.”
“In our new strategy Leading in a Changing World we have committed to further accelerating entrepreneurship in Ireland. We are delighted to launch this important €90m programme with the European Investment Fund and ISIF to support innovative, early-stage companies, driving future jobs and economic growth.”
Kieran Bristow, Deputy Director of the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) said, “Ireland’s knowledge economy is producing a vibrant new generation of start-ups with great business ideas but who need the right type of capital to grow and achieve global success. This new investment programme will match top-tier managers of seed capital with high-potential seed-stage companies and founders who have the ideas, ambition and know-how to become world beaters.”
“This is an exciting investment for ISIF that will build on our track record of backing early-stage companies and deliver in line with our double bottom line of generating a commercial return while supporting employment and economic activity in Ireland. It will also help to further develop Ireland’s funding landscape in a way that aligns with ISIF’s Environmental, Social and Governance objectives.”
Christian Kettel Thomsen, Vice President at the European Investment Bank said, “the European Investment Bank Group is committed to ensuring that world-class innovation-driven Irish companies can access finance, expand and create jobs. The Irish Innovation Seed Fund programme builds on our recent support for Irish companies impacted by Brexit and innovation investment at all Irish universities. The new fund will allow entrepreneurial Irish companies in the life-science, digital technologies, fintech and environmental sectors to harness new opportunities and compete globally. This exciting new initiative brings together Irish and European equity and venture capital expertise and financial strengths that will accelerate innovation across Ireland.”
Alain Godard, CEO of the European Investment Fund said, “we are pleased to be partnering up with Enterprise Ireland and Ireland Strategic Investment Fund in support of highly innovative early stage companies in Ireland. Sharing EIF’s European experience with our partners will complement their local expertise in order to support VC fund managers focused on seed stage investments. Today’s launch of the Irish Innovation Seed Fund Programme initiative opens a new chapter of successful EIF co-operation in Ireland building on top of EIF financing of approx. EUR 1bn over the last two years.”
A first call for proposals under the programme will launch later this week on the European Investment Fund website.
The fund programme will be led by Enterprise Ireland, with the European Investment Fund acting as fund manager and will be structured as a fund of funds.
A fund of this size, backed by these three experienced partners is an important step in developing the equity ecosystem in Ireland. It aims to attract both new fund managers and new private investors to crowd-in further private equity investment into Ireland.
The fund programme, totalling €90 million, will be made up of a €30 million contribution from the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, whilst the European Investment Fund will match this investment by providing a further €30 million. The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund will seek to co-invest with a further €30 million on selected investments.