Community Enterprise Initiative (2015 – 2017)

Please note that this programme is closed

Overview of Community Enterprise Initiative

The overarching goal of the €5m Community Enterprise Initiative Fund is to stimulate and support enterprise and job creation at a local, community and regional level. 

This fund is part of the Government’s €250m Regional Enterprise Development Initiative aimed at accelerating economic recovery in every part of the country.

The competitive call for applications is open to new and existing organisations, groups and alliances, who collaboratively seek to promote entrepreneurship, create jobs, foster innovation and enhance export opportunities for small business. A prerequisite for proposals is the need to demonstrate innovative solutions to fostering and creating employment. Priority will be given to new approaches that build on, and strengthen, the entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout the country.

Through the utilisation of existing infrastructure and the leveraging of nationally available enterprise supports, the specific objectives of the scheme include:

  • Fostering an increased collaborative, networked and linked approach to regional and local enterprise development and job creation
  • Establishment of hubs, accelerators, networks and clusters or other partnerships based on regional strengths, opportunities and uniqueness. Within this is the establishment of partnership activities where innovative start-ups can be established in a supportive network before graduating to other support mechanisms or self-sufficiency 
  • Proactively seeking out, encouraging and supporting applications from economically disadvantaged areas and areas facing potential economic shock to foster potential opportunities for job creation and supporting enterprise
  • Promotion of a progression pathway for companies as they start, develop and scale.

Phase 1 of the programme opened for applications on Friday 15th May 2015. The closing date for applications was 6pm, Friday, 10th July 2015.

 Am I eligible? Who can apply?

The Community Enterprise Initiative Scheme is open to new and existing organisations and groups, who collaboratively seek to create jobs, promote entrepreneurship, boost innovation and enhance exports.

Examples of the expected type of collaboration would be:

  • A chain of Community Enterprise Centres could collaborate that would have the capacity to offer better support services
  • The recruitment of Enterprise Partners could give access to a greater level of practical problem solving expertise (financial, taxation, internationalisation etc.)
  • The forming of alliances with the local Higher Education Institute (HEI) or Education & Training Board (ETB) could give access to domain expertise (marketing, exporting, prototyping, design etc.) that could strengthen the capability of clients etc.
  • Establishment of a volunteer mentoring initiative operating on a regional basis.

Essential Requirements

A prerequisite for proposals for funding under the Community Enterprise Initiative Scheme is a business plan which clearly communicates the potential to create jobs, promote start-ups and to support an increased level of exporting including through the development of enterprise hubs and partnerships.

Priority will be given to new initiatives that can yield economic additionality at the community and regional level and tothose working across multiple locations with a regional focus. The focus of the proposal should be one or more of the following:

  • Pre and new start-ups
  • Expanding existing businesses
  • New Job creation
  • Added value to existing jobs
  • Creation of new networks, hubs and clusters
  • Creation of a platform for the provision of expertise, upskilling, management development, mentoring etc.
  • Innovation
  • Filling gaps identified in regional enterprise strategies
  • Leveraging of other enterprise supports e.g. mentoring, funding, etc.
  • Enterprise supported and ‘championed’ by the private sector networks, entrepreneurs etc.

What is the maximum funding available?

The fund size will be €5m and is cash limited. This is a competitive fund and due to limited funding available under the fund, it may not be possible to award aid to all eligible projects.

While there will be flexibility in the funding model to allow applications to be innovative, under the Community Enterprise Initiative Scheme the following financial support is available:

  • 50% of costs for a feasibility study/local business plan up to a maximum of €25,000
  • 50% of cost* of suitably skilled personnel who can deliver and develop the project and leverage the support of other agencies and private sector supports
  • 50% of building modification costs up to a maximum of €200,000 per facility to upgrade and enhance the infrastructure to meet current and emerging business needs where justified by the criteria set out
  • 50% of costs for delivery of new services as a result of wider collaborations up to a maximum of €200,000 such as the establishment of hubs, incubators, clusters, networks, mentoring or other partnerships to promote job creation through new start-ups, business expansion, innovation and exports. Other innovative solutions stimulating the start-up culture, enterprise capability and job creation potential of the region is also encouraged. 

*maximum €50,000 over a period of 2 years


How do I apply? How are applications assessed?

Application forms are available here.

Note: only applications submitted on the official application form will be considered.

Eligible applications will be evaluated and approved by the Enterprise Ireland Board or a decision making committee appointed by the Enterprise Ireland Board. Where the number of suitable applications exceeds the available funding, those ranked highest will be supported.

An Evaluation Group will be set up comprised of nominees from Enterprise Ireland, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and relevant public and private bodies will be set up to evaluate eligible projects.

Full details on how applications are assessed are available by downloading the CEI Scheme Reference Document.

Completed application forms must be sent to the following email address:


What are the call close dates?

The Closing Date for Applications was 6pm, Friday, 10th July 2015.

Application forms are available by downloading the CEI Application Form.


For more information contact the following Enterprise Ireland Regional Executives based on your location:

Dublin City, Fingal, Meath

Michael Brougham
+ 353 90 6487121  


 Denis Duggan
+ 353 90 6487125

Wexford, Waterford, Kilkenny, Carlow

Brian Fives
+353 51 333537

Longford, Westmeath, Offaly, Laois

Mark Atterbury
+ 353 90 6487 128


Jacqui Norton
+ 353 21 4800228


Jerry Moloney
+ 353 61 777020


Mary Rogers
+ 353 61 777039


Catherine Hogan
 + 353 61 777009


Harriet Cotter
 + 353 61 777015

Galway, Mayo, Roscommon

Gillian Slattery
 + 353 61 777027

Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim

Joan Mullen
 + 353 71 9159732

Louth, Cavan, Monaghan

Anne Caldwel
+ 353 42 9354429

Or your local Regional Enterprise Ireland office.