Supports for High Potential Start-Ups (HPSUs) - Stage 1

View Stage One

 Developing the Proposition

View Stage Two

 Getting Investor Ready

View Stage Three

 Starting to Internationalise


Enterprise Ireland’s supports for high potential start-up businesses are aligned to the stage of development of a company. Broadly, supports can be linked with 3 key stages of development:

  1. Developing the Proposition
  2. Getting Investor Ready
  3. Starting to Internationalise

Please note that there is no financial assistance available until a company is classified as "eligible" for High Potential Start-Up supports. To learn more about eligibility criteria and how to contact the Enterprise Ireland start-up team to discuss your business proposition, go to our Do I Qualify as a High Potential Start-Up section.

Stage 1: Developing the Proposition

Definition of this stage: You have an idea or concept for a business which you believe can be the basis of a new High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) company and you are interested in exploring supports available from Enterprise Ireland.  You may, or may not, have established a company and may be working part-time or full-time on the business idea.

What Enterprise Ireland looks for at this stage

At this stage Enterprise Ireland will need information about your business and your development plans to establish if your business proposition is eligible for support and investment as a High Potential Start-Up.

You will need to have a business plan, or at a minimum, an outline business proposition that addresses where you/your company is positioned, outlining:

  • The proposed company offering to market – what are you proposing to sell (is it a technology, a finished product or a service) and why is your offering innovative compared to existing solutions on the market at present.
  • The background and experience of the entrepreneur/founder(s) and any other people involved in the proposed company – this should clearly set out the commercial, professional and technical track record of the entrepreneur and the start-up team, highlighting capabilities that can assist in moving the project forward, and also any skills or expertise gaps that will need to be addressed in developing the start-up company.
  • The proposed business model or “go-to-market strategy” of the company – this should set out how the company intends to operate. Will the company manufacture in-house or subcontract, will the product or service be sold directly or via sales partners e.g. channels to market, resellers, strategic partners, licensing arrangements, direct selling to end customers, online sales etc?
  • The target customers – any information from potential customers that support the need or interest in your company’s offering provides a strong commercial focus to a start-up proposition, outlining the companies or customers that you intend to sell to and, if available, a pipeline of customers.
  • Your funding requirements for starting the business and implementing your initial development and commercialisation plans. This section should clearly outline any cash investment from the founders, private investment raised and financial support that you have received or applied for from other government agencies.

Enterprise Ireland supports at this stage

Enterprise Ireland support for start-up business at this early stage focuses on refining the business proposition and developing the strategy, product, team and market/customer channels all to get the business to an investor ready stage.  

Start-up Adviser

A start-up adviser is available to speak to you in confidence and to review and discuss your plans.  They will advise you on how best to progress your proposition and identify where your business will best be supported to develop to an investor ready stage. Find your nearest Enterprise Ireland office where you will find a dedicated start-up adviser with whom who can discuss your proposition, establish if your business is eligible for HPSU support, and get advice on moving your business proposition forward.

There are also many other private business accelerators run throughout the country which our start-up advisers can tell you about.

Enterprise START Workshops

Enterprise Ireland also holds a number of entrepreneurial workshops throughout the country - Enterprise START - which help early stage promoters understand and evaluate the entrepreneurship process and what it involves.  Each workshop is targeted at individuals with a business idea that has the potential to be scaled up significantly within three years and be export driven.

For entrepreneurs who require further assistance to develop their business proposition, Enterprise Ireland, in conjunction with the four Business Innovation Centres (BICs) in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Waterford, has developed the EnterpriseSTART 2 programme.  It is designed to help entrepreneurs and early stage companies that have a business proposition but need to develop it to a point where it can be considered by Enterprise Ireland as a high potential start-up.

New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme

If your business proposition appears to have HPSU potential but is at an early stage of development, you may alternatively be referred to a start-up development programme or business accelerator such as New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme.  It is run in partnership with the Institutes of Technology and gives support to entrepreneurs to move their business proposition to an investor ready stage.  A range of supports including mentoring, incubation space and a €15,000 scholarship payment is provided to help accelerate the development of the business and to equip the promoter(s) with the skills and contacts needed to successfully start and grow a company.

Other Supports

A mentor may be available to give you support to develop your strategy and business model. 

Specific Competitive Feasibility Funds aimed at stimulating new high potential start-ups outside of the greater Dublin area are also held throughout the year. These funds support companies or individuals to investigate the viability of new, significant growth oriented business propositions. Check out our funding offers for High Potential Start-ups to see if any competitive funds are currently open.

Other supports such as Innovation Vouchers, worth €5,000, are available to assist early stage companies to work with a registered college or knowledge provider in Ireland and Northern Ireland.  They can enable entrepreneurs to explore a business opportunity or solve a technical problem for example to help an entrepreneur develop a prototype or complete a piece of market research.  Innovation Vouchers may be used by companies at all stages of development but do require a CRO number.

Overseas Entrepreneurs

If you are currently based outside of Ireland and plan to locate your start-up business in Ireland, please visit our Overseas Entrepreneurs section.

HPSU Showcase

The HPSU Showcase puts the spotlight on High Potential Start-Up companies that have successfully established new businesses in Ireland over the course of the past year, with funding and support from Enterprise Ireland.

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