Competitive Start Fund - FinTech

The Competitive Start Fund (CSF) aims to support early stage start-ups. This fund is open to early stage companies active in FinTech and providing technology driven solutions within the Financial Services sector or to the FinTech/Financial Services sectors as an end market. The following are examples of some of the areas included within the scope of the fund: Payments, Banking, RegTech, Security, and InsurTech; and FinTech solutions that leverage the following technologies: Blockchain, IoT, AI and Data Intelligence.

James OToole ID Pal

James O’Toole is CEO of ID-Pal, a RegTech start-up that addresses the paper-based, time consuming and frustrating process of identity verification, which takes place prior to a business opening a customer account. ID-Pal's mobile app and web portal enables customer onboarding to be completed, either face-to-face or remotely, in under 5 minutes. Click here to read more.

Hesus Inoma WeSavvy

A lifestyle choice led to Hesus Inoma’s decision to set up WeSavvy, a digital insurance platform which captures and aggregates lifestyle data from consumer platforms, apps, wearables and social media, and turns it into insights for Financial Services Providers. A previous winner of the Fintech Competitive Start Fund (CSF), this is his story so far. Click here to read more.

Call open: Wednesday 21st June 2017
Call close: Wednesday 5th July 2017

All applications to the fund must be made via the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System.

  • Completed application forms must be submitted through the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System by 3pm on 5th July 2017.
  • A Video Pitch must be submitted on the platform by 11:59pm on 5th July 2017 (when you commence the application form an email regarding the video pitch will be sent to you separately)

A valid application must contain both a video pitch and complete application form.

Please note that applicants may only apply for either CSF Regional Entrepreneurship OR Fintech, not both.

Successful applicants will receive access to the Bank of Ireland’s Innovation Team and desk space at Bank of Ireland’s new dedicated FinTech startlab (as well as passports to regional startlab locations and NYC startlab). In addition, there will be a number of Masterclasses provided by industry experts.

Successful overseas applicants will be required to move to Ireland.  Enterprise Ireland will assist entrepreneurs who need a visa to live and work here. Successful applicants from outside the EU will be eligible for a Startup Entrepreneur Visa which permits the holder and his/her family members to reside and work in Ireland - see details here for rules of the scheme. The €50k investment from Enterprise Ireland will fulfill the funding requirements of the visa.  Advice and assistance on this is available from the help desk.

CSF takes business to new level

Tips on making your Competitive Start Fund application 

Overview of the FinTech 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?

You are eligible to apply if you are an existing or potential client of Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up Department.

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 an early stage company active in FinTech and providing technology driven solutions within the Financial Services sector;
  • Must be a manufacturing or an eligible traded services business (the eligible services as listed in the Service Industries Order 2010)
  • 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 revenues in excess of €60k in the current financial year to date or in any previous financial year
  • If a company, it must be less than three years old [from date of registration]
  • Must be capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising sales of €1m within 3 years.  [If a company is required to have FDA or CE approval, these targets must be achievable within three years of approval to sell];
  • Must not be engaged in gambling, "adult entertainment", tobacco or military sectors; 
  • Applicants must be eligible to live and work in Ireland. If their current visa status does not allow them to run a business in Ireland they must regularise their visa situation before receiving an investment.  (Enterprise Ireland has a help-desk to advise non EU applicants on the relevant rules).
  • Must meet SME definition as defined by EU legislation


Please note:

  • 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 scholarship, or a Priming Grant from the Local Enterprise Office, the application will not receive Competitive Start investment until they have completed drawdown of the New Frontiers scholarship/priming grant or declined further 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.

Legal Basis: 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. Capitalisation of existing director/related party loans will not qualify. The company must also meet the general terms and conditions of the scheme.

Eligible costs

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;

  • Salaries
  • Travel
  • 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.

sample application form is available here to download. Please note, this is for reference purposes only and is subject to change.

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, 25% 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: 

Evaluation Criteria


Company and Promoter Profile


Product/Service & Market Opportunity


Business Proposition - delivered by Video Pitch


Product/Service Innovation


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 on Wednesday 2nd August if they were unsuccessful in this call or will be invited to present a short investment pitch to the panel on Tuesday 15th August (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 15th August 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. 


Closing Date for Applications

The closing date for all applications for those active in FinTech and providing technology driven solutions within the Financial Services sector is 3pm on Wednesday, 5th July 2017.


Key contact/more information

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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