Pre-Seed Start Fund

***Please note:

  • No calls for applications are currently open.
  • Upcoming call dates for applications to the Pre-Seed Start Fund in 2023 will be posted on this webpage.

Support Available: €50k or €100k (in two equal tranches)

Support Type: Convertible Loan Note Investment

In addition to the investment, successful applicants will be supported by an Enterprise Ireland Development Advisor and 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, access to the Enterprise Ireland Market Research Centre/market insights and appropriate other services to support the development of the business.

Overview

‘Ireland as a World leading location to start and scale a Business’

A key ambition of Enterprise Ireland’s Strategy 2022-2024 “Leading in a Changing World” is to support the delivery of a support structure for early-stage companies and entrepreneurs to meet their business development needs.

The purpose of the Pre-Seed Start Fund is to accelerate the growth of early-stage start-up companies that have the capacity and ambition to succeed in global markets. The fund is designed to enable companies cover operational costs to undertake key tasks including the development of a market ready product/solution, product testing in the marketplace, building critical skillsets within the start-up team. The Pre-Seed Fund will support early-stage companies to reach key technical and commercial milestones required to attract future Seed Funding within 6 – 18 months.

Applications received will be reviewed and assessed by taking into account the objective of the Fund, required criteria of the Fund, the stage of development of the start-up and assessment of the following areas outlined in the application submitted.

    1. Ideally (though not essential) have a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) or live in Beta and that the product or service has early demonstrable customer validation.
    2. A fully articulated proposition addressing a clear opportunity with market research conducted with customers/potential customers.
    3. A clear execution plan outlined, clearly identifying key milestones to be achieved such as identifying suitable channels to international markets or technical product development roadmap.
    4. Evidence of innovation, internationalisation potential and employment capacity, clear international market opportunity for the proposed product or service, clear knowledge of the international competitive landscape.
    5. A team with experience, domain knowledge and balance of skills (Tech, Commercial, etc.) and commitment to execute on the plan.

Assessments are undertaken on the applications submitted. It is important to note that the greater the progress the applicant has undertaken towards generating early and/or sustainable revenues the stronger the application. Applications that are at idea, concept or design stage may be considered to require further development before applying for this particular Fund.

If the application is successful in progressing past the initial review stage the applicant(s):

    1. will be invited to meet with Enterprise Ireland to discuss the application further;
    2. may be required to supply further information or contacts (e.g. customers / investors) prior to any Enterprise Ireland investment completing as part of the due diligence process.

In the event that an application is not successful, Enterprise Ireland will engage with the Applicant to assist in directing the applicant to other agency support structures (i.e. within Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise offices, others as appropriate).

Am I eligible?

This fund is open to early stage companies 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, , Gaming and Digital Entertainment, HR Talent Tech, Industrial Products, IOT/Smart Cities, Life Sciences, Digital Health, Manufacturing Tech, MarineTech, MedTech, PropTech, Retail Tech, Enterprise Technology, TravelTech, Food & Drink,Green Technologies/*Climate Change Solutions, and Others – see link below for reference to eligible company sectors.

*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.

    1. Companies that are active in the relevant industrial sector(s)

      OR

    2. You are eligible to apply as an ‘Individual’ if an establishment/company is not yet registered for the proposed eligible company activity. If the application is successful, the investee company must be registered in Ireland and the individual/founder must be based in Ireland prior to the investment completing. In addition, the Company must be registered and based in Ireland with the majority of the management team based in Ireland post investment.

You are eligible to apply if you are an existing or potential client of Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start Up Unit (HPSU), however, an entity must not have previously been approved a HPSU matched co-investment.

Former Competitive Start Fund (CSF) investee companies may apply for a maximum of €50,000 provided they meet the eligibility criteria and a post investment Validation process has been successfully completed with Enterprise Ireland.

Current clients of Enterprise Ireland HPSU Unit that meet the criteria are advised to discuss their planned application with their Development Advisor prior to application.

Applicants must fulfil all of the following criteria:

  1. Must be a manufacturing or an eligible internationally traded services business (as listed in the Service Industries Order 2010).
  2. Must not be engaged in activities that are excluded under Enterprise Ireland policy including gambling, adult entertainment, tobacco or military sectors.
  3. Must not have received Equity funding of more than €150K prior to date of receipt of a formal online application by Enterprise Ireland. Equity includes Ordinary Shares, Convertible Preference Shares, Convertible Loan Notes and Directors' Loans. Sweat equity does not apply.
  4. Must be pre-trading or have recently commenced trading, i.e. does not have revenues in excess of €150k in the current financial year to date or in any previous financial year.
  5. If the enterprise is an existing company, the company must be less than 4 years old (from date of incorporation in Ireland) at date of formal application submission to Enterprise Ireland.
  6. Must have the potential and ambition to achieve 10 jobs in Ireland and realising sales of €1m within 3 years (of date of application for this Fund).

    The following criteria will apply to all applicants and will be assessed as part of the additional due diligence process for those applicants/companies progressing to the second stage of the evaluation:

  7. Meet the state aid and legal basis options for this support; i.e. either
    (Meet the requirements to be defined as an Innovative start up Enterprise as defined by The General Block Exemption Regulation
    or
    Have sufficient de minimis funding available (for the proposed Enterprise Ireland investment) in line with EU rules governing ‘single undertakings’ and company group structures).
  8. 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.
  9. The undertakings must be a ‘small’ enterprise as defined at SME Definition (europa.eu).
  10. 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: please email pssf@enterprise-ireland.com

Please note:

  • If an application is successful and is currently in receipt of an Enterprise Ireland Feasibility Grant, the amount of the Feasibility grant must be drawn down before the investment completion or, alternatively, the company/individual must forego the balance of the Feasibility Grant prior to receipt of the Pre-Seed Start Fund investment.
  • If the applicant is successful and currently in receipt of a New Frontiers scholarship/stipend, or a Priming Grant/Feasibility/other grant from the Local Enterprise Office, the application/applicant entity will not receive Pre-Seed Start Fund investment until they have completed drawdown of the New Frontiers scholarship/priming grant or declined further payments.
  • Performance, Output and Progress made from prior state support for the applicant e.g. from New Frontiers, Local Enterprise Offices (LEO) or Enterprise Ireland and other state bodies will be considered in the assessment of the application.
  • The Company must be registered and based in Ireland with the majority of the management team residing in Ireland and key business functions managed from Ireland.
  • 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 Pre-Seed Start investment completing.

Support type

What is the maximum funding and on what terms?

A future funding period of up to 18 months can be considered.

A company may apply for either €50k or €100k investment and in the application must include the milestones to be achieved and the associated costs for the amount of funding sought from Enterprise Ireland and demonstrate how any shortfall would be funded.

The minimum and maximum level of support per successful application are as follows:

Maximum support level:

€100,000, in the form of Convertible Loan note instrument, to be released in 2 equal tranches of €50,000.

For a €100,000 investment: (both first and second tranche details apply).

First €50k tranche

The first €50k tranche will be released to successful applicants subject to the company providing confirmation that an additional new* cash co- investment of a minimum of €5,000. This new investment must be in the form of new cash for Equity/Quasi Equity (e.g. Ordinary shares, SAFE, CLN, Director’s loan (must be subordinated to Enterprise Ireland investment).

The new *co-investment must be made post the relevant call close date/company application date. Any co-investment made before the call close date/company application 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 as ‘co-investment’;

The initial offer for first or single tranche investments will be valid for a period of 8 weeks. This can be extended, at the discretion of Enterprise Ireland, in exceptional circumstances.

Second €50k tranche: (only applies to €100k investment offers)

For second tranche investment, the following will be required:

Enterprise Ireland undertaking a review with the company and being satisfied with a report from the Company detailing how the first tranche monies have been spent and describing progress to date against achievement of agreed milestones and investment conditions.

In addition, other documentation will be required, including : A valid Tax Clearance Certificate, Up-to-date management accounts and other supporting information to complete the tranche 2 drawdown.

The second €50k tranche will also require to the company providing confirmation that an additional new* cash co- investment of a minimum of €5,000. This new investment must be in the form of new* cash for Equity/Quasi Equity (e.g: *Ordinary shares, SAFE, CLN, Director’s loan (must be subordinated to Enterprise Ireland investment).

Minimum support level

€50,000 in the form of Convertible Loan note instrument, to be released in 1 tranche of €50,000.

Minimum co-investment requirement

€5,000 per €50,000 investment offered.

Note that the details above for a first tranche €50k investment will apply.

Please note additional standard and special conditions will be applied.

  • The Investment completion period from initial offer to first or single tranche investment completion will be up to 8 weeks.  This can be extended, at the discretion of Enterprise Ireland, in exceptional circumstances.
  • The first tranche will be released to successful applicants subject to the company providing confirmation that an additional new* cash co- investment of a minimum of €5,000. This new investment must be in the form of new cash for Equity/Quasi Equity (e.g: Ordinary shares, SAFE, CLN, Director’s loan (must be subordinated to Enterprise Ireland investment).
  • The new co-investment must be made post the relevant call close date or date of formal application (whichever is earlier). Any co-investment made before the the receipt of a formal application 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 as ‘co-investment’.
  • For successful applicants note that other Enterprise Ireland grant/funding offers may be restricted for the investment period if they represent potential for double funding.

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 an Agreement with Enterprise Ireland.

For more information on this Equity Process, read our Frequently Asked Questions.

Legal Basis: Industrial Development (Amendment) Act 2019 Section 7B (the Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Act 1998 is amended by the insertion of section 7B).

State Aid Basis: EU State Aid Policy: Article 22, Aid for start-ups, Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 (General Block Exemption Regulation) or Commission Regulation (EU) No 1407/2013 (De Minimis Aid).

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 and fundraising milestones. Applicants must show at least a minimum of the amount of support sought from Enterprise Ireland within the ‘expenditure’ in the "Cost of Plan" section in the application form.

The following activities are likely to form the basis of expenditure:

  • Salaries
  • Travel
  • Consultancy Fees
  • Other Expenditure

Application Open and Close Dates

  • No calls for applications are currently open.
  • Upcoming call dates for applications to the Pre-Seed Start Fund in 2023 will be posted on this webpage.

Please note that there will also be future opportunities to apply for this support offer. Further details will be confirmed on this webpage.

Please email pssf@enterprise-ireland.com if you are a start up in sectors eligible for Enterprise Ireland support and any of the following scenarios apply:

  • your start up does not meet the specific criteria for this Pre-Seed Start Fund offer and you would like information on other suitable potential supports for your business,
  • your start up is at early stage ‘Idea / Concept stage’ and would like information on potential support for your business
  • you have a general query in relation to this offer

How do I apply?

  • No calls for applications are currently open.
  • Upcoming call dates for applications to the Pre-Seed Start Fund in 2023 will be posted on this webpage.

Potential applicants are advised to read all details on this webpage prior to applying.

All application details must be completed.

If you are already a client of Enterprise Ireland your application must be discussed with your Enterprise Ireland Adviser prior to submission.

It is recommended that Clients of Local Enterprise office and New Frontiers Programmes interested in the offer inform their Advisor of their interest in the offer and also attend an information workshop in advance of application.

First time applicants will be required to register on the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System.  All Applications must be made through the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System.

Required documents:

A completed application form constitutes a valid application.

Need Assistance?

For enquiries, please contact the Pre-Seed Start Fund Team:

pssf@enterprise-ireland.com

+353 1 727 2202 (9am - 5pm)

Please send an email with your query or alternatively leave a voice message and we will return your call.

If you are already a client of Enterprise Ireland please contact your Enterprise Ireland Adviser.

If you are not a client of Enterprise Ireland and want to learn more about qualifying and applying for this support, please note the information workshops below and contact your local BIC/Business Innovation Centre who can assist you in preparation of an application and if required direct you to appropriate start up supports.

Workshops

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 considering applying to the fund, including those based internationally looking to start a business in Ireland.

Prior registration is required:

BICDateTimeRegistration
Furthr (formerly Dublin BIC)4 Oct 202214:30-16:00Register Here
South East BIC10 Oct 202210:00-11:30Register Here
West BIC6 Oct 202209:00-10:30register here
Cork BIC7 Oct 202210:00-11:30register here

A workshop will be hosted by West BIC on behalf of all BIC’s nationwide and is now open to registration. This workshop is open and available to anyone who is interested in understanding the funding offer and in particular to entrepreneurs and early stage companies based nationwide and those based internationally looking to start a business in Ireland.

Places are limited so register early:

BICDateTimeRegistration
Nationwide Workshop17 Oct 202214:30-16:00Register here

Local Business Innovation Centres (BIC)

Your Local Business Innovation Centre (BIC) in addition to application support workshops can offer assistance with preparing your Pre-Seed Start Fund application.

Contact your local BIC for more information:

Furthr (formerly Dublin BIC)
Website: Get In touch - Furthr
Contact : Claire Devine ClaireDevine@furthr.ie

South East BIC
Website: southeastbic.ie
Contact: Rosemary Ward rward@southeastbic.ie

West BIC
Website: WestBIC - Business and Innovation Centre
Contact: Mary Ryan mryan@westbic.ie

Cork BIC
Website: CorkBIC
Contact: Larry O’Donoghue lodonoghue@corkbic.com