Competitive Start Fund - Experienced Business Professionals
This Competitive Start Call is directed at mature and highly experienced business professionals with twenty-five years or more of relevant business experience in Ireland or abroad, of which at least 10 years should be at a senior or leadership level.
To apply for the fund, the experienced business professional should be intent on establishing and leading a start-up company incorporated in Ireland and active in manufacturing or internationally traded services.
In addition to the investment of €50k, successful applicants will participate in the Ingenuity Programme delivered by The DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurs. This 12-week programme will run from February to May 2019 and is specifically designed for early stage companies that are led by experienced professionals.
This fund is open to early stage companies that meet the above criteria. These businesses should be active in manufacturing & internationally traded services, including the following subsectors: Internet, Games, Apps, Mobile, SaaS, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Software, Lifesciences, Food, Cleantech and Industrial Products.
Thinking of applying for the Competitive Start Fund for Experienced Business Professionals? Tony McEnroe, CEO of SiriusXT and Enterprise Ireland’s HPSU Founder of the Year 2017, describes himself as an “accidental entrepreneur” – here’s his advice on taking the plunge and setting up your own business. Click here to read more.
“Winning the Competitive Start Fund (CSF) for Experienced Business Professionals was perfect timing for our company,” says Anne Lawlor, CEO, Journey Protector. Here’s how it benefitted in building the business. Click here to read more.
CALL OPEN: Tuesday 21st August, 2018
CALL CLOSE: Tuesday 4th September, 2018
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 Tuesday 4th September, 2018 at 3pm.
A Video Pitch must be submitted on the Sonru.com platform by 11:59pm on Tuesday 4th September, 2018 (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.
Applicants are asked to apply for this call for applications or the call for applications for International Entrepreneurs but not both. All applications are evaluated against the same evaluation criteria.
Following the evaluation of online applications, the short-listed projects will be invited to travel to Ireland to experience the start-up ecosystem and to pitch to the evaluation panel. The pitch will take place on Tuesday 6th November, 2018. Enterprise Ireland will cover the travel and accommodation costs.
Successful applicants will be required to move to Ireland. Successful applicants from outside the EU will be eligible and supported by us to apply for a Startup Entrepreneur Visa which permits the holder and his/her family members to reside and work in Ireland.
Read rules of the scheme at Startup Entrepreneur Programme Guidelines.
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.
Applicants to the fund should ideally be able to demonstrate the following:
- Be able to clearly demonstrate that product or service has reached 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 market 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 contacts of (trial and/or paying) customers prior to any Enterprise Ireland investment completing as part of our due diligence process.
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 that are active in the relevant industrial sector(s) OR Individuals who, prior to Enterprise Ireland's investment, will have a headquarters registered and be based in Ireland. All intellectual property and assets must reside in the Irish entity.
In addition, applicants must fulfil all of the following criteria:
- One or more promoters must be able to provide evidence of twenty-five years or more of relevant business experience, of which typically at least ten years would be at a leadership or senior level.
- 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.
- 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.
What is the maximum funding and on what terms?
- 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 after the relevant call close date.
- The overall equity investment will be towards the costs associated with implementing the business plan and making progress on key technical and commercial milestones.
In addition to the investment of €50k, successful applicants must commit to participate in a business development programme designed specifically for early stage companies. This 12-week programme will run from February to May 2019, 1 day per week, and is specifically designed for early stage companies that are led by experienced professionals. Participation on the programme is mandatory.
*Capitalisation of existing loans will not qualify – we require this to be new cash into the business.
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
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 must register on the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System.
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.
A sample application form from a previous call is available for download here. Please note, character counts on each field are not outlined in this sample 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, 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. Read Video Pitch Briefing Document.
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.
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 (Word format).
Assessment Part 2
Shortlisted applicants will be invited to present a short investment pitch to the panel on 16th October, 2018 at Enterprise Ireland offices in Dublin. (Assessment Part 2).
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
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 is Tuesday 4th September, 2018 at 3pm.
Key contact/more information
- Download Reference Document - to follow
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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