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Tánaiste announces €48 million invested in start-ups by Enterprise Ireland in 2020

Image courtesy of Enterprise Ireland

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD has announced that Enterprise Ireland, the government agency responsible for the development and growth of Irish companies in global markets, invested more than €48 million in Irish start-ups in 2020 and supported a total of 125 new start-up companies.

Investment was provided through Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) and Competitive Start Fund (CSF) programmes.

While the total number of start-ups supported last year almost matched 2019 figures (127 in 2019), the 2020 levels of investment in innovative High Potential Start-Ups was boosted by the Covid-19 Sustaining Enterprise Fund and an increase in follow-on investments to help HPSUs scale internationally.

The investment of more than €48 million is the highest level of funding that Enterprise Ireland has awarded to early stage companies.

Key sectors that Enterprise Ireland invested in in 2020 included fintech, cybersecurity, digital health and agri-tech, with half of the start-ups based outside Dublin. In addition, 38 women-led start-up companies were funded – a key focus of Enterprise Ireland’s Women in Business Action Plan.

Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment said:

“I have nothing but admiration for the many entrepreneurs across the country who have been brave enough to start up new businesses during the pandemic. It’s been an incredibly difficult year. I have seen countless examples all across the country of business owners overcoming adversity and demonstrating the kind of ingenuity, adaptability and resilience that entrepreneurs are known for.

“The government invested more than €48 million directly into start-up companies last year. This allowed us to support 125 new businesses, all of which are aimed at the global market. Congratulations to the teams behind each one of them. You are the job creators of the future and you will all have a really important part to play in Ireland’s recovery. The government will continue to help those starting up on their own, with funding, training and networking opportunities.”

Kevin Sherry, Executive Director, Enterprise Ireland commented:

“A strong startup economy is absolutely vital to the future of Ireland and scaling and growing the export and start-up base is one of Enterprise Ireland’s strategic priorities. In what has been an incredibly challenging time for all businesses, it is really important to recognise 125 of Ireland’s most exciting new startup companies with ambitious growth plans. Start-ups are a powerful driver of economic growth, new talent and innovation.

“Now, more than ever, we need to be innovative and carve out more niches in international markets where business can thrive. Despite the impact of COVID-19, 2020 was another successful year for Irish start-ups, with growth noted in the life sciences and ICT sectors. We are also seeing new opportunities for ambitious entrepreneurs and start-ups in the green economy as well as doing business in a post-pandemic environment.”

Start-ups supported by Enterprise Ireland in 2020 include:

  • 80 High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) investments – start-up businesses with the potential to create 10 jobs and €1 million in sales within three to four years of starting up
  • 45 Competitive Start Fund (CSF) investments, which inject critical early-stage funding into new businesses
  • 50% of the new start-ups are located outside of Dublin
  • 38 women-led start-up companies were approved investment
  • 12 HPSUs were successfully commercialised in partnership with 3rd level research institutions
  • 44 additional HPSUs received follow-on investment funding as their businesses scaled

Jenny Melia, Divisional Manager, High Potential Start-Ups, Enterprise Ireland added:

“In Enterprise Ireland, we have always been committed to helping founders to start and grow their businesses internationally and in 2020, we also focused on supporting these businesses as they navigated their way through the pandemic.

“For the second year running, 38 of the businesses supported were founded by women. Since 2011, the percentage of HPSUs founded by women has grown from 7% to almost 24% in 2020, marking the continuation of this trend, which underpins the Enterprise Ireland Action Plan for Women in Business.

“The Action Plan, which was launched last year, aims to increase the participation of women in entrepreneurship and business leadership. The class of 2020 are great role models for new founders and we look forward to working closely with them to help fulfil their potential and to create strong and sustainable export businesses.”

The Enterprise Ireland Start-Up Showcase will be broadcast virtually on Wednesday 24 February with one-to-one virtual investor meetings scheduled to take place following the event.

The virtual event will feature a keynote address from Des Traynor, CSO, Intercom and panel discussions featuring Nicky Deasy, Managing Partner, Yield Lab; Brian Shields, CEO, Neurent Medical; James Ives, CEO, XOCEAN; Helen McBreen, Investment Director, Atlantic Bridge; Conor O’Loughlin, CEO, Glofox and Alan Coleman, CEO, Sweepr.

Register for Start-Up Showcase 2021 and find more information here.

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