Start-up competition more about process than prize
INNOVATION PROFILE:InterTrade Ireland’s All-Island Seedcorn Competition is all about taking part
It may sound like a cliche but taking part in InterTradeIreland’s All-Island Seedcorn Competition really is just as important as winning it.
The competition aims to recreate the investment process and over the past 10 years 1,645 companies have entered with a total of €2.49 million in prize money being won.
Even more impressive are the fund-raising results of finalists over the years. All companies who enter the competition automatically become part of the Seedcorn Network – an extensive business community which will help boost the company’s profile, contacts and investment opportunities.
By taking part, previous Seedcorn finalists have attracted €159 million worth of new equity funding.
Seedcorn is the largest business competition for early stage and high growth companies in any sector on any part of the island. It is aimed at companies that have a new equity funding requirement and in 2012 had a record prize fund of €280,000.
It is open to independent ventures in Ireland or Northern Ireland in the seed, start-up or early stages of business development and ideally targeting international markets.
Companies enter by submitting business plans which are initially assessed by a panel of independent entrepreneurs, investors and experts.
Entrants are then subjected to a rigorous interview before judges in competing for the two categories of Best Emerging and Best High Growth Company titles on a regional basis in Connacht and Leinster, Munster, Dublin, and Northern Ireland with the winners in each region in each of the two categories securing an initial €20,000 share of the prize fund for their company.
The regional winners then go forward to the all-island final which was held at Titanic Belfast on November 28th last. Belfast-based Catagen and Wattics from Dublin were named the Best High Growth Company and Best Emerging Company respectively at the event.
As the Best High Growth Company on the island, Catagen won the overall cash prize of €100,000 while Wattics took home a cash prize of €50,000 for its success as the Best Emerging Company.
The competition is part of InterTradeIreland’s overall support package for SMEs as Seedcorn project manager Connor Sweeney explains.
“InterTradeIreland is the only organisation which supports SMEs across the island to develop North/South trade and business development opportunities for the mutual benefit of both economies,” he says.
“Our job in InterTradeIreland is to work with local businesses to help them maximise opportunities across the island and to help put them in the best possible position to beat the global competition once the downturn becomes an upturn. The goal of the Seedcorn competition is to help narrow the gap between the expectations of the venture capital community and those of SMEs. Our aim is to help companies understand what the venture capital funds are looking for when it comes to investments.”