Business Partners Programme


Enterprise Ireland is responsible for commercialising the outputs of publicly funded academic research. Our experience shows that the involvement of experienced entrepreneurs in the commercialisation of academic research is a key determinant of the success of spin-out companies from Higher Education Institutes.  The aim of the Business Partners Programme is to identify, engage and support entrepreneurs to capitalise on the rich portfolio of ongoing applied research within the academic sector to create new spin-up companies – we do this by matching business partners with technically talented co-founders from 3rd level who are already working on a spin-out opportunity based on state funded research.


Am I eligible to become a business partner?

Enterprise Ireland wants to work with individuals (not companies) who can demonstrate strong commercial experience and the ability to lead a new, early stage spin-out venture. After identifying a specific opportunity, we will work closely with these individuals over a six month period to assist them to validate the product and market opportunity that might lead to a new start-up company.


The ideal Business Partner will have the following:

  1. A strong commercial track record.
  2. Ideally, previous technology start-up and founding leadership experience; if coming from an MNC/large company environment then ability to demonstrate how that experience can be effectively leveraged and applied in a technology start-up scenario.
  3. Capacity to personally invest and/or leverage equity investment by others.
  4. Ability to identify and validate (de-risk) the true commercial opportunity of an early stage technology – based on customer discovery and customer validation work they themselves will undertake leading to a minimum viable product that will be tested with early adopters and trial partners.
  5. Ability to ramp up time commitment as required in the creation of a new company and stay onboard at least through initial equity funding round.
  6. Ability to work collaboratively and motivate, lead and inspire co-founders around an evolving and uncertain commercialisation path.
  7. Ability to figure out and articulate product, strategy, business model and path to market to secure early adopter customers and potential seed investors.
  8. Ability to leverage or quickly create relevant industry contacts and networks (e.g. investors, customers, channels).


What funding or support is on offer for Business Partners?

  1. Access to State-funded research and intellectual property (IP) where technology advances are often the basis of defensible IP and commercially valuable barriers to entry.
  2. Access to technically talented individuals within Higher Education Institutes with an active interest in commercialising their research outputs.
  3. Assistance navigating to the best opportunities currently within the Higher Education Institute system that fit your experience and skillset.
  4. Introductions to the relevant technology transfer case managers and commercial development managers within Higher Education Institutes (including EI/IDA Technology Centres and other centres of scale within Ireland).
  5. Participation in the Business Partners Network, including events focusing on key aspects of the programme.
  6. The support of an Enterprise Ireland specialist in the commercialisation of publicly-funded research throughout the 6 months engagement.
  7. Access to Enterprise Ireland's Market Research Centre (providing access to Market and Business Intelligence) and where appropriate, other functions within Enterprise Ireland. 
  8. Once an individual has identified a particular project, a grant of up to €20,000 is available to cover a portion of the costs involved in validating the opportunity and developing an investor ready business plan.  This payment is made at the end of the engagement on foot of an acceptable deliverable.
  9. When appropriate, introductions to the High Potential Start Up (HPSU) team within Enterprise Ireland.


Some examples of spin-out companies from Higher Education Institutes that have directly benefitted from EI Business Partner programme support:

Reflective Measurement Systems:
Latch Medical:
Head Diagnostics:
Crop Biome:


How do I apply?

Submit the completed application form  along with your CV to

Note: All applications are subject to a review and a face to face screening and selection process; these take place every quarter on average. Applicants must have a current Irish tax clearance certificate.


Call close dates

The programme is currently open to new applicants.


Key contact/more information

If you are interested in hearing more about the programme, then view Business Partners video or email or contact:

Peter O'Fegan
EI Business Partner Programme Lead
Research & Innovation Business Unit
Enterprise Ireland

+353 91 735921

Peter O'Fegan