New €175 million Government Seed and Venture Capital Scheme targets high-growth Irish companies - Minister Bruton
Enterprise Ireland scheme aims to leverage private sector funds to create total of €700 million for investment 2013-2018
Scheme is key part of Government’s plans to support the development of Irish industry as a powerful engine of economic and employment growth
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, today (Friday 31 May, 2013) launched a new €175 million Seed and Venture Capital Scheme 2013-2018 aimed at providing additional funding for high-growth Irish companies with the potential to generate large amounts of additional export sales and grow jobs.
The Minister today issued the first call for Expressions of Interest from venture capital funds seeking investment, and advertisements will appear in newspapers from this weekend. Minister Bruton is targeting an additional €525million in funding from the private sector, which will mean a total of €700million available for investment over the lifetime of the Scheme. It is expected that the average initial venture investment in a company made by the funds targeted under this call could be of the order of €2million.
Today’s announcement marks the delivery of a key commitment under Action Plan for Jobs 2013.
Under the Scheme, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, through Enterprise Ireland, will make funding available for investment in private seed and venture capital funds. These funds, in turn, will invest in high-growth innovative Irish companies in fast-growing sectors including ICT, life sciences, high-tech manufacturing and the green economy.
This first call for expressions of interest will see Enterprise Ireland committing up to €100m to venture capital funds targeting investment in the wider ICT and life sciences sectors. It is expected that over the lifetime of the scheme it will benefit hundreds of Irish companies, generate tens of millions of euros in additional export sales and create thousands of jobs. Further expressions of interest will be issued over the next two years.
Today’s announcement is taking place at Swrve, an Irish company which develops cutting edge technology for in-app digital marketing. Founded in 2010 by Hugh Reynolds and Steve Collins, formerly of Havok, the company has raised significant amounts in VC funding from some of the top international names in the sector, including most recently closing a round of US$6.25M. It now employs over 40 people in its offices in Dublin and San Francisco. Swrve counts some of the largest game- and app- developers on its customer list, such as Activision, Epic Games and Irish-based Story Toys. Swrve is projecting triple-digit revenue growth in 2013.
The Scheme is part of a series of new funding mechanisms put in place by this Government, which will make available a total of more than €2billion in additional non-bank lending for Irish businesses:
- €850million through three SME funds from the NPRF
- €450million credit guarantee scheme
- €90million micro-finance scheme
- €225million development capital scheme
- €10million international start-up fund
- €120million second call under Innovation Fund Ireland
Making the announcement, Minister Bruton said:
“While the multinational sector is and will remain crucial to our industrial strategy, I am determined to ensure that we also support the creation of a powerful engine of Irish enterprise that can sustain and create the levels of employment we need. A key part of the Government’s plans to support Irish businesses is to provide access to credit for a range of different types of businesses, from micro-enterprises employing fewer than 10 people up to mid-sized and large engineering companies in need of development capital.
“Today I am very happy to launch the new Seed and Venture Capital Scheme which will run over the next six years and make investments in hundreds of high-growth, innovative Irish companies in sectors which we have targeted through the Action Plan for Jobs including high-tech manufacturing and ICT. These are the companies that could develop into the next major success story for the Irish economy. International experience from Silicon Valley and elsewhere shows venture capital can play a key part in ensuring access to mentoring and networks as well as the funding that supports the growth of these companies.
“I am convinced that with the right supports we can ensure that high-growth Irish companies can make a major contribution to sustaining the progress we have seen with the Action Plan for Jobs over the past two years and creating the jobs we need”.
Frank Ryan, Chief Executive, Enterprise Ireland, commented: ‘The Venture Capital sector plays a vital role in supporting and increasing employment in innovative businesses. Venture capital funds provide crucial funding to high growth companies in key sectors and are important in helping bridge the funding gap for Irish companies.
‘The world of Venture Capital investing is changing and we are particularly interested in receiving Expressions of Interest that reflect current thinking in the market. Proposals are sought that will deliver ‘Smart Capital’ to investees as the provision of advice, support, and access to networks in addition to any capital invested is vital to the development of our companies to ensure that they can continue to grow and create jobs in Ireland’.
Further details are available at: www.enterprise-ireland.com/svcapital.
For further information contact:
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Tel. 01 6312200
Press Office, Enterprise Ireland
NOTES TO EDITORS
Investments by Enterprise Ireland in funds through this Scheme will be on an equity basis. In the past, equity investments by Enterprise Ireland have generated a healthy return for the taxpayer, as well as providing benefits for the economy in terms of the jobs and growth supported in investee companies.
While young entrepreneurial technology intensive firms have an important role to play in driving innovation and overall economic growth, they also require large amounts of external capital to sustain themselves in their early years. As these firms are typically characterised by intangible assets and high levels of risk, debt financing is rarely an option; external equity finance must be sourced.
The Action Plan for Jobs 2012 comments that “A commercially driven and dynamic venture capital sector is one essential element in the commercialisation of entrepreneurial ideas and basic and applied research”. Successive Governments, through Enterprise Ireland, has invested in the domestic venture capital sector over the last twenty years with that aim in mind.
The Action Plan for Jobs 2012 also highlighted that raising new venture capital funds in the existing international venture capital fundraising environment will require further follow‐on funding from the State. This approach to investing in the venture capital market is in line with the approach taken by the governments of many of our European partners.
Under Action 3.41 of the Action Plan for Jobs 2012, Forfás also undertook a review of the equity landscape in Ireland. This comprehensive review was supported by a steering group involving the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (D/JEI), Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Finance. It noted that, “a sufficiently developed venture capital market, which can build the critical scale and expertise, is needed to support investment and to avoid an early stage venture capital gap”.
Under Action 3.42 of the Action Plan for Jobs 2012 a working group was also established to ascertain the need for the State to continue its support, on the same terms as the private sector, for the development of the domestic venture capital sector. The membership of the group comprised representatives of the D/JEI, Enterprise Ireland and the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF).
Following multifaceted deliberations and a consultation exercise with stakeholders the working group was of the clear view that continued State investment on the same terms as the private sector is critical to the continued development of the Irish venture capital sector and, therefore, to the availability of risk capital for innovative Irish SMEs.
For further information, download the Seed and Venture Capital Programme Report 2013-2018.