Competitive Start Fund - Women Entrepreneurs
For this Women Entrepreneurs call, applications are invited from individual women entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial teams and existing early stage women led start-ups. A qualification requirement for this call is that, the applicant / applicant company must have at least 1 woman promoter that has a place on the lead management team and who owns or will own at least 25% of the voting share capital of the company at the point prior to Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund Tranche 1 investment of €25k for 5% of the company if successful in this competition. Details of how this condition will be met must be provided in the application form.
If the proposed application does not meet this specific requirement above, please visit the information page for Call 69 - All sectors.
Applicants are asked to apply for either this Women Entrepreneurs Call OR the All Sectors Call.
The proposed application must be active in the Manufacturing & Internationally Traded Services sectors, including the following subsectors AgriTech, AR/VR, Cleantech, Compliance Tech, Construction Tech, Consumer Products, Cyber Security, EdTech, Fintech, Food & Drink, Gaming and Digital Entertainment, HR Talent Tech, Industrial Products, IOT / Smart Cities, Life Sciences, Manufacturing Tech, MarineTech, MedTech, PropTech, Retail Tech, Enterprise Technology, TravelTech, Green Technologies / *Climate Change Solutions, Other
*solutions to address challenges and opportunities regarding Climate Action with an emphasis on decarbonisation (i.e. supporting transition to low carbon) including but not exclusive to Renewables, Carbon capture technology, Innovations in buildings and transport applications and Sustainable materials.
This call for applications will open on Tuesday 7th September 2021 and will close on Tuesday 28th September 2021 at 15:00 hrs.
Completed application forms must be submitted through the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System by the deadline.
Also, as part of the application process, a Video Pitch must be submitted on the Sonru.com platform by 15:00 hrs. on Tuesday 28th September, 2021 (when you commence the application form, an email regarding the video pitch will be sent to you separately).
A valid application must have both a video pitch and completed application form.
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 capacity to succeed in global markets. The fund is designed to enable those companies to reach key technical and commercial milestones. Applications are considered on a competitive basis. Funding is provided to companies who rank highest in a two-phase evaluation process. The maximum level of support per successful application is €50,000, for 10% in ordinary shares in the start-up company, to be released in 2 equal tranches of €25k (5% in ordinary shares for each tranche).
Applicants to the fund should ideally be able to demonstrate the following:
- Be able to clearly demonstrate that product or service has reached Minimal Viable Product (MVP) stage, and that the product is, at a minimum, live in beta.
- That the product or service has demonstrable customer validation with (trial and/or paying) customers.
- A fully articulated proposition addressing a clear gap in the market with market research conducted with customers / potential customers.
- Evidence of innovation, export potential and employment capacity. Clear export opportunity for the proposed product or service. Clear knowledge of the competitive landscape.
- Clear execution plan outlined, identifying suitable channels to international markets.
Assessments are undertaken on the applications submitted, it is important to note that the greater the progress the applicant has undertaken towards generating sustainable revenues the stronger the application. Applications from projects that are at idea, concept or design stage may be considered to require further development before applying for the competitive start fund.
If successful in progressing to pitch the applicant may be required to supply contact details of (trial and/or paying) customers prior to any Enterprise Ireland investment completing as part of our due diligence process.
Previous CSF Winners
Established by engineering graduates and best friends Katie Farrell and Matthew Coffey, and supported by Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund, SQUID is an innovative loyalty app that is free for customers to download and can hold “virtual” loyalty cards for a range of businesses. Read more about SQUID..
Hidramed’s innovative wound management system was inspired by its founder’s search for a solution to her medical condition. Suzanne Moloney explains how the right mentoring supports helped her start-up to progress quickly. Read more here.
BidRecruit is an innovative, unique platform that cuts time-consuming tasks and makes recruitment efficient and effective. Here, company founder, Caroline Gleeson outlines how CSF enabled BidRecruit to develop from idea to business reality. Click here to read more.
Women Entrepreneur Competitive Start Fund's support network
Am I eligible?
The Competitive Start Fund is open to:
- Companies that are active in the relevant industrial sector(s)
- You are eligible to apply as an ‘Individual’ if an establishment/company is not yet registered for the proposed eligible company activity. If application is successful in the CSF call the investee company must be registered in Ireland and the individual/founder must be based in Ireland.
You are eligible to apply if you are an existing or potential client of Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up Department.
In addition, applicants for Women Entrepreneurs call must fulfil all of the following criteria:
If successful, the applicant / applicant company must have at least 1 woman promoter that has a place on the lead management team of the applicant company and who owns or will own at least 25% of the voting share capital of the company at the point prior to EI CSF Tranche 1 investment of €25k for 5% of the company. Details of how this condition will be met must be provided in the application form.
- Must be a manufacturing or an eligible traded services business (the eligible services as listed in the Service Industries Order 2010);
- Prior to the competition closing date must not have received equity funding of more than €150K. Equity includes Ordinary shares, Convertible Preference Shares, Convertible Loan Notes and Directors Loans. Sweat equity does not apply;
- Prior to the competition closing date must be pre-trading or recently commenced trading and does not have revenues in excess of €100k in the current financial year to date or in any previous financial year;
- If the enterprise is an existing company, the company must be less than 3 years old (from date of incorporation in Ireland) at call close date;
- Must be capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising sales of €1m within 3 years;
- Must not be engaged in activities that are excluded under Enterprise Ireland policy including gambling, adult entertainment, tobacco or military sectors.
The following criteria will be applied as part of the additional due diligence process for those applicants / companies progressing to the pitch stage of the competition:
- Have sufficient de minimis funding available in line with EU rules governing ‘single undertakings’ and company group structures;
- The applicant/applicant company must not have previously performed the proposed business activity or a similar business activity in a separate business which was majority owned by the applicant/applicant company/the applicant company’s majority shareholder(s); Unless the applicant/applicant company can clearly demonstrate that the business activity previously performed was limited to innovative research and/or was merely preparatory/pre revenue in nature;
- The undertakings must be a small enterprise as defined at www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/about-us/our-clients/sme-definition.html
- 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).
- The Competitive Start Fund investment must be completed within 8 weeks from date of offer
- 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 receipt of the CSF investment.
- 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/applicant entity will not receive Competitive Start investment until they have completed drawdown of the New Frontiers scholarship/priming grant or declined further payments.
- The company must be registered and based in Ireland with the majority of the management team based in Ireland.
- Any company who previously received CSF investment is not eligible to apply for this competition.
Note: Any intellectual property and assets that are required to execute the business plan that are currently owned by the promoters must be assigned to the investee Irish company prior to the CSF investment completing.
Application Support Workshops will be held online by Business Innovation Centres (BIC) nationwide. Workshops are free to attend. Spaces are limited, workshops are interactive and participation is welcomed from entrepreneurs and early stage companies. Workshops are also open to internationally based entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Ireland.
Prior registration is required.
Your Local Business Innovation Centre (BIC) in addition to application support workshops can offer assistance with preparing your CSF application. Contact your Local BIC for more information:
What is the maximum funding and on what terms?
- Applications are considered on a competitive basis;
- The maximum support available is €50,000 for the purchase of 10% of the ordinary share capital in the start-up company;
- The investment shall be released in two equal tranches;
- The first tranche will be released to successful applicants subject to the company providing confirmation that an additional new* cash investment of €5,000 has been made for the purchase of fully paid up ordinary shares only. This new investment must be in the form of new cash for issued ordinary shares in the capital of the Company. The new investment must be made post the relevant call close date. Any investment made before the call close date will not be considered “new cash”. The investment can be from any source, except any other publicly-funded entity/programme. Loans will not be sufficient. Also, capitalisation of existing director/shareholder/related party loans will also not qualify;
- In addition to €50,000 equity investment, successful applicants can avail of a range of Start – Up support from Enterprise Ireland including 10 mentoring sessions with a mentor from the Enterprise Ireland panel of mentors.
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 & 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.
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 1407/2013
The overall equity investment will be towards the costs associated with developing the business plan and making progress on key technical and commercial milestones. Applicants must show at least a minimum of €50K in expenditure in the "Cost of Plan" section in the application form.
The following activities are expected to form the basis of expenditure;
- Consultancy Fees
- Other Expenditure
How do I apply?
Applications must be made via the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System during the call open dates. We strongly recommend that you log in and commence your application well in advance of the call closing date. 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. For your application to be considered you must submit your written online application and video pitch. An email will be sent (to the email address used when registering for Enterprise Ireland online) inviting you to complete your online video interview after you commence your Competitive Start Fund online application.
You will be asked to address the following questions:
- What are you going to sell? (1 minute maximum)
- Who are you going to sell it to? (1 minute maximum)
- Why are they going to buy it from you? (1 minute maximum)
- How are you going to sell it to them? (1 minute maximum)
- How are you going to make money? (1 minute maximum)
- You will also be given 2 minutes max to add any additional comments
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]
All applicants will be notified by email of the result of the first round of the competition in October 2021. Those shortlisted to progress to the second round will be invited to present a short investment pitch to the panel (Assessment Part 2) in November 2021.
Assessment Part 2
The highest scoring applications will be invited to present a short investment pitch to the evaluation panel comprising external industry experts and representatives of Enterprise Ireland.
The evaluation panel will be asked to score the applicant's performance based on the following equally weighted criteria:
- Business Model - explain how this company will generate revenue and scale internationally.
- Management Team - describe how the proposed management team have the necessary skills to scale this business and clearly identify gaps and proposed actions to address them.
- Roadmap - clearly outline the steps necessary and the resources required over the next 12 months.
The evaluation panel will select the start-ups 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
This call will close on Tuesday 28th September 2021 at 15:00 hrs.
Key contact/more information
For further information, please read:
For enquiries, please contact:
+ 353 1 727 2202 (9am - 5pm)
We are operating remotely, ideally send an email to email@example.com or alternatively leave a message and we will return your call.
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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