Competitive Start Fund - All Sectors with focus on ICT
A call for applications for those active in the Manufacturing & Internationally Traded Services sectors including the following subsectors: Internet, Games, Apps, Mobile, SaaS, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Software, Lifesciences, Cleantech and Industrial Products, will open on Wed 25th January 2017 and will close at 3pm on Wednesday 8th February 2017. Late applications will not be accepted. This fund is open to applications from early stage companies who meet the eligibility criteria outlined below. All applications to the fund must be made via the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System.
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Update: From 2017 onwards, registered companies applying for Competitive Start Fund must be less than 3 years old from date of registration.
Overview of the Competitive Start Fund
The purpose of the Competitive Start Fund is to accelerate the growth of start-up companies that have the capability to succeed in global markets. The fund is designed to enable those companies reach key commercial and technical milestones, for example:
- Evaluate overseas market opportunities and reach firm conclusions regarding the viability of the proposed business.
- Build a prototype.
- Secure a reference site.
- Develop a market entry plan for exploiting international opportunities.
- Secure partnership deal or strategic alliance.
- Identify suitable channels to international markets.
- Secure third party investment e.g. business angel, Venture Capital.
Am I eligible?
The Competitive Start Fund is open to:
- Companies who are active in the required sector for the call they are applying for.
- Individuals who, prior to Enterprise Ireland's investment completing, will register a company which will be active in these sectors.
- Individuals who, prior to Enterprise Ireland's investment completing, will have a headquarters registered and be based in Ireland. All intellectual property and assets must reside in the Irish entity. The majority management must be based in Ireland for a minimum of one year.
In addition, applicants must fulfil all of the following criteria:
- Must be a manufacturing or an internationally traded services business;
- Must not have received equity funding of more than €100K prior to the competition closing date. Equity includes Ordinary shares, Convertible Preference Shares, Convertible Loan Notes and Directors Loans. Sweat equity does not apply;
- Must be pre-trading or recently commenced trading, i.e. does not have annual revenues in excess of €60k in the current financial year to date or in any previous financial year;
- Must be less than three years old on the date of registration;
- Must be capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising sales of €1m within 3 years of starting up* or, where a company is required to have FDA or CE approval, within three years of approval to sell;
- Must not be involved in activities that fall within gambling or "gaming" as defined in the Gaming & Lotteries Act 1956 or be involved in "adult entertainment", tobacco or military sectors;
- Applicants must be eligible to live and work in Ireland or be legally working here or attending, or have recently attended, a startup accelerator programme in Ireland. If you are successful and your current visa status does not allow you to run a business in Ireland you must regularise your visa situation before receiving an investment.
- Must meet SME definition as defined by EU legislation: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/business-friendly-environment/sme-definition_en
*starting up defined as the relevant competition closing date.
- If an application is successful and is currently in receipt of an Enterprise Ireland Feasibility Grant, the full amount of the Feasibility grant must be drawn down before the Competitive Start Fund investment or, alternatively, the company/individual must forego the balance of the Feasibility Grant prior to starting the CSF.
- If the applicant is successful and currently in receipt of a New Frontiers stipend, the applicant will not receive Competitive Start investment until they have completed drawdown of the New Frontiers stipend or declined further stipend payments.
- Where an applicant is a subsidiary of a parent company, then the eligibility criteria will be applied to the parent company.
- If the applicant was a sole trader or a partnership prior to applying to CSF as an individual or a Limited company and the undertaking is exactly the same, then the eligibility criteria will be applied to the former entity.
- Note: Any intellectual property that is required to execute the business plan that is currently owned by the promoters must be assigned to the company prior to the CSF investment completing.
The legal basis is Section 31 of the Industrial Development Act 1986.
State Aid Basis
The State Aid basis is De Minimis Aid EC No 69/2001
What is the maximum funding available and what costs are eligible?
- Applications are considered on a competitive basis.
- The maximum support available is €50,000 for a 10% ordinary equity stake in the start-up company.
- The investment shall be released in two equal tranches.
- The first tranche will be released to successful applicants only when it provides confirmation of additional new cash investment for equity of €5,000. This new investment in equity of €5,000 by the successful applicant is to occur post the relevant call close date. The €5,000 should come from the promoter sourced funds and must not be matched from State funds. These monies, must not be provided by the Capitalisation of existing director/related party loans which, will not qualify. The company must also meet the general terms and conditions of the scheme.
- Successful applicants will additionally be appointed a mentor who will work with the company for up to 10 sessions.
The overall equity investment will be towards the costs associated with developing the business plan and making progress on key technical and commercial milestones. The following activities are expected to form the basis of expenditure;
- Consultancy Fees
- Other Expenditure
How do I apply?
If you are a first-time applicant you will be required to register on the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System.
Applications must be made via the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System during the relevant call open and call close dates. We strongly recommend that you log in and commence your application well in advance of the call close date and time. You can commence your application and save it to revisit at a later stage.
To support your written online application, you will be offered the opportunity to pitch directly to the Assessment Part 1 Evaluation Panel using video interviewing technology. You will be asked to complete a 6-8 minute online video interview / pitch which will be viewed by the evaluation panel as part of the evaluation process. This video pitch is mandatory, 20% of the overall marks are allocated to this submission. You will be asked to address the following questions:
- What are you going to sell? (1 min Max)
- Who are you going to sell it to? (1 min Max)
- Why are they going to buy it from you? (1 min Max)
- How are you going to sell it to them? (1 min Max)
- How are you going to make money? (1 min Max)
- You will also be given 2 minutes max to add any additional comments
You will receive an email after commencing your Competitive Start Fund online application inviting you to complete your online video interview. Read video pitch briefing document.
Please note that an application for approval of an equity investment for companies selected under this scheme shall be subject to:
(a) Approval from Enterprise Ireland’s Investment Committee. (b) The company agreeing to the Terms and Conditions set out in the Enterprise Ireland Term Sheet. (c) The company agreeing to enter into a Share Subscription and Shareholders Agreement with Enterprise Ireland. For more information on this Equity Process, read our CSF Equity FAQs.
How is my application evaluated?
Assessment Part 1
An evaluation panel comprising external consultants and Enterprise Ireland will score applications under the following criteria:
Company and Promoter Profile
Product/Service & Market Opportunity
Business Proposition - delivered by Video Pitch
Ability to deliver key Commercial and Technical Milestones over the coming 12 months
Likelihood of developing into a HPSU (company with at least 10 employees and €1 million revenue within 3 to 4 years)
For information, download CSF Assessment 1 Scoring Guidelines.
All applicants will be notified by email of the result of this assessment on Wednesday 8th March 2017. If they are successful they will be invited to present a short investment pitch to the panel on Tuesday 21st March 2017 (Assessment Part 2).
Assessment Part 2
The top applications will be invited to present a short investment pitch to the evaluation panel comprising external industry experts and representatives of Enterprise Ireland at the offices of Enterprise Ireland, East Point Business Park, Dublin 3 on Tuesday 21st March 2017.
The evaluation panel will be asked to score the applicant's performance based on the following equally weighted criteria:
- What specific need does your product / service address? Why would someone be "compelled" to purchase your offering?
- What is it about you and/or your management team that makes you capable of executing on this business plan?
- What would be the impact of €50K on the execution of this business plan?
From the final applicants, those scoring highest will be selected to go forward to Enterprise Ireland’s Investment Committee for approval.
Please note: Enterprise Ireland reserves the right to seek additional clarification from the applicant in regard to your application.
Click here to read the Reference Document (MS Word format).
Closing Date for Applications
The closing date for all applications for those active in the Manufacturing & Internationally Traded Services sectors including Internet, Games, Apps, Mobile, SaaS, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Software, Lifesciences, Cleantech and Industrial Products was 3pm on Wednesday 8th February 2017.
Key contact/more information
Press Release - Enterprise Ireland launches All Sector €750,000 Competitive Start Fund open to entrepreneurs and start-ups
- Denise O’Grady, Founder of Way2Pay, has been through the Competitive Start Fund (CSF) application process more than once and gives her advice on how you should apply here
- Rob Laffan, Founder and CEO of Tippy Talk, has advice from his experience of applying for Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund here
- The Competitive Start Fund (CSF) allowed Michael FitzGerald to turn OnePageCRM from a side project into his main focus – this is his advice on applying for the fund here
- The Competitive Start Fund (CSF) was integral to the development of the Castle Chafer serving dish says Jim Kearney from Carlow-based CBL Equipment – this is his advice from his experience of applying for the fund here
For more information, please contact:
+ 353 1 727 2202 (9am - 5pm)
If you are not a client of Enterprise Ireland and want to learn more about qualifying and applying for Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up supports, go to our Start a Business Section.
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