Taoiseach welcomes significant interest in Innovation Fund Ireland

The Taoiseach, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D. today [Friday 3 December, 2010] welcomed the announcement that 32 expressions of interest have been received in response to a call for proposals for investment under Innovation Fund Ireland.

The Taoiseach said: “I am delighted that Enterprise Ireland has received such a high level of interest in Innovation Fund Ireland. The Fund is a crucial initiative to provide ‘smart’ capital to innovative Irish businesses to allow them to grow and create jobs. Enterprise Ireland and the NPRF are fully committed to the successful development of the Fund and the Fund remains a priority for Government”.

“I was pleased to welcome the first National Pension Reserve Fund investments under Innovation Fund Ireland in October.  I look forward to further investments in the Fund by both Enterprise Ireland and the NPRF in the coming months.”

Enterprise Ireland received thirty-two expressions of interest in response to its first call which closed on 26 November, 2010. These will now be evaluated by Enterprise Ireland, in conjunction with the NPRF, with a view to selecting appropriate investments which will help develop Ireland as a Global Innovation Hub.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O'Keeffe TD, said “Innovation Fund Ireland is a key commitment of the National Recovery Plan and it has been endorsed by a broad range of leading industrialists and entrepreneurs, including the Innovation Taskforce.

“Innovation Fund Ireland is a key Government jobs policy instrument which will help to transform our investor environment by establishing top-tier international venture capital funds and networks. Investors will partner with the Government in backing high-potential firms with collateral to help them grow into major employers. We are making good progress on implementing the Report of the Innovation Taskforce and further investments under Innovation Fund Ireland will be an important part of that strategy,” said Minister O'Keeffe.

For further information on Innovation Fund Ireland, contact

Alan Hobbs,
Head of Communications,
Enterprise Ireland

Alan Hobbs
+353 1 7272904
086 8699703

Notes to editors:

Venture capital is an essential ingredient for supporting entrepreneurs and ensuring that businesses can scale and create jobs. The availability of venture capital and the presence in Ireland of international venture capital firms is vital in driving entrepreneurship and start-ups, attracting high potential start-ups from overseas and enabling ambitious companies to grown and create jobs.

Innovation Fund Ireland is a key action point in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 and the Government's Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal: 'Building Ireland's Smart Economy' and was endorsed by the Innovation Taskforce which reported in March 2010.

It is part of a suite of policy initiatives to position Ireland as a Global Innovation Hub through driving entrepreneurial activity, assisting the establishment and scaling of firms, and promoting employment creation and productivity growth. The objective of the Fund is not just to increase the availability of capital but also to transform the market by attracting top tier Fund managers. It complements other enterprise policies including the Government's continued commitment to the existing Irish venture capital sector through Enterprise Ireland.

The Taoiseach launched Innovation Fund Ireland in the New York Stock Exchange on Monday 12 July. Innovation Fund Ireland funding comprises three elements. The first is the Exchequer of €125 million, which will be managed by Enterprise Ireland. The second allows the NPRF to invest a similar amount as part of its private equity programme providing its commercial investment criteria are met. The balance will be raised privately by participating venture capital managers.

The first NPRF investments under Innovation Fund Ireland in DFJ and DFJ Esprit were announced on 7 October 2010.

Enterprise Ireland issued an international call for expressions of interest in relation to the Exchequer stream under the Fund on 23 September with a closing date of 26 November. For further information, visit www.innovationfundireland.com.