Business Grants and Support for SMEs and Startups in Ireland
The Irish economy has recovered from its darker days in an admirable way, and one of the factors that aided that recovery was the startup culture that it began to foster and nurture.
By attracting both tech giants and talent alike, Ireland managed to create a stimulating environment for business to start booming. The country is now entering a post-recovery phase where households are enjoying an increase in their income.
One of the ways the Irish Government is supporting that growth is by making incentives, grants and funds accessible to businesses.
Below is a list of some of the benefits that can help a Small Medium Enterprise (SME) or a startup regardless of what stage they find themselves in.
There are over 170 Government supports for startups and SMEs in Ireland. Here are some of the major ones, and what they have to offer to your business.
Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs)
Local Enterprise Offices are a great resource for startups and small businesses all over the country.
There are over 30 LEOs around the country which offer a range of services, which include financial support such as micro-finance loans, for setting up new businesses or expanding existing ones.
Financial support is available in a number of different forms:
Feasibility grants are designed to assist a prospective business owner with researching market demand for a product or service and examining its sustainability.
Priming grants are business start-up grants, available to micro-enterprises within 18 months of their establishment.
Business expansion grants that assist businesses in the growth phase after the initial 18-month set-up period. This grant may be awarded to a sole trader, partnership or limited company that fulfils certain criteria.
The Local Enterprise Office website also has an online interactive tool for SMEs that lets you input your business’s location, relevant sectors, size, structure, stage, preferred support, export and funding status. Once you insert that information, the tool will automatically list all the relevant state agencies that can potentially assist your business, along with their contact information and sometimes even the name of someone you can contact directly.
Enterprise Ireland is the agency responsible for the development and growth of Irish businesses in world markets and supports the creation of numerous jobs every year.
The businesses they choose to support generate great export revenues which benefit the country’s finances.
It has been referred to as one of Europe’s biggest venture capital funds.
Enterprise Ireland has a large number of supports available to businesses of all sizes. Here are some of the most notorious ones:
New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme aims to support entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas who plan to set up and run their own companies.
Competitive Start Fund (CSF) is an equity investment designed to accelerate the development of early-stage businesses with export potential by supporting them to achieve technical and commercial milestones.
High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) funding. HPSUs are businesses with the potential to develop an innovative product or service for sale on international markets, and the potential to create at least 10 jobs and €1 million in sales within 3 to 4 years. Grants and incentives are plentiful for these businesses and range from innovation vouchers and feasibility grants to mentor grants.
The goal of Bord Bia is to promote the sale of Irish food and horticulture both domestically and abroad. It has several incentives for businesses, such as:
Brand forum: A membership programme designed for manufacturers interested in branding their offering and looking to network with peers.
Origin Green: Membership of this group gives your business a sound platform for putting sustainable foods first.
Distributor search: Generates a shortlist of candidates for manufacturers looking for partners to bring a product to market.
Delivery services: Focuses on finding the best logistical solutions for physically shipping products.
Retail and food service programmes: Offer manufacturers structured approaches to local markets.
Tax clearance certificates
If you are seeking state aid for your business, you will probably be asked to produce a tax clearance certificate. This is written confirmation from Revenue that your tax affairs are in order on the date the certificate is issued.
How to Improve your Chances of getting support
Create a foolproof business plan and strategy. Some programmes require you to have your strategy in place before you apply. However, the LEOs and programmes such as New Frontiers are there to help startups develop their strategies and implementation plans through mentor ship programmes.
Identify the state agencies that could assist your business. There are plenty of grants and incentives available so it’s better to focus your efforts on the one that fits your goals the best.
Research available grants and incentives. You will need to have a good business idea in place, one that explains why your business deserves one of these grants or incentives. Remember, your Local Enterprise Office may be a good starting point.
Also, be sure to keep an eye on any events run by the state agencies listed above, along with any others you identify. These represent an excellent opportunity to network with like-minded peers and gain valuable insights into your sector.
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