The availability of seed funding for early stage companies continues to be a critical issue which impacts on both the start-up rate and the time taken for individuals to successfully establish new businesses. Enterprise Ireland is committed to continuing to support the overall development of early stage seed and venture capital funding within Ireland and is working to bridge the gap which currently exists in the availability of early stage funding. Over the past 4 years Enterprise Ireland has committed €98 million resulting in a total of approximately €408 million being made available through 15 seed and venture capital funds to help bridge this gap.
Enterprise Ireland is also heavily involved in activities that connect high potential start-ups (HPSUs) with third party investors and in advising HPSUs on how best to position their business proposals to investors. Some examples include:
Advice on making the best impression with potential investors: An Investor Readiness pilot programme was launched in 2004 with seven companies. Through this initiative, Enterprise Ireland assists each company to enhance the attractiveness of the company’s business proposition, as presented to potential third party investors. This involves one-to-one mentoring; presentation rehearsals, and group training modules. An independent evaluation strongly endorsed the initiative’s success and as a result, the programme is scheduled to be rolled out on a wider basis during 2005.
Working with the Irish Venture Capital Association: During 2004, Enterprise Ireland worked with the Irish Venture Capital Association and its members on a number of initiatives and networking events including piloting a forum where HPSUs seeking investment were matched with Irish Venture Capital (VC) companies. At one event 11 companies were introduced to eight active VCs and each company was given five minutes to make a pitch to each VC. This highly efficient and effective meeting process resulted in 48 individual requests for business plans or further information from the investors. A series of such networking events is scheduled to take place in 2005.
Meeting international providers of funds: The European Tech Tour Association is a non-profit organisation that organises four country visits per year of approximately 60 international venture capitalists. This unique tour visited Ireland in November 2004, bringing together representatives from the international venture capital sector and 21 local businesses who made individual presentations to the VC community seeking investment. The event was also an opportunity to profile Irish business on an international stage. The three-day tour was opened by Micheál Martin, TD, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Enterprise Ireland was one of the sponsors. In addition, Enterprise Ireland organised two company showcases, in Dublin and Limerick, where a further 36 companies seeking investment were profiled. They held one-to-one discussions with the visiting investment delegation.