New €90m fund for early-stage startups launched


A new €90m fund for start-up businesses has been launched today by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

The new Innovation Equity Fund, announced in last October’s budget, will invest in early-stage companies with potential to grow and scale up.

The development is part of a Government drive to back young Irish companies.

“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,” said Mr Varadkar.

“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.”

€30m of the money will come from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

A further €30m will be provided by the European Investment Fund, with the balance due to be provided by the Irish Strategic Investment Fund.

News of the fund was welcomed in October by Scale Ireland, which said many early-stage start-ups could not scale without sufficient investment.

It also said there had been a four-year long decline in early-stage funding.

The fund will be in addition to the Seed and Venture Capital Scheme, a five-year €175m fund running until 2024 that is administered by Enterprise Ireland and provides funding of up to €20m to individual eligible firms.

The fund will target sectors such as fintech, healthcare and pharma, food and agri-tech, life sciences and technology and digitalisation that have experienced trouble in the past in attracting early stage investment.

Enterprise Ireland will lead the programme and the European Investment Fund will act as fund manager.

“Sharing EIF’s European experience with out partners will complement their local expertise in order to support VC fund managers focused on seed stage investments,” said Alain Godard, CEO of the European Investment Fund.

Priority will be given to investments that support regional development, climate change and female entrepreneurship.

“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, as they innovate for future growth,” the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said.

The first call for proposals will be launched later this week on the European Investment Fund website.

“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,” said Kieran Bristow, Deputy Director of the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.


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