Where to go for funding and support for your start-up
There is a wealth of information and money available from State and private sources
Your Leo may advise if you are eligible for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme with vouchers of up to €2,500 available.
Local Enterprise Offices (Leos) provide support to local businesses that are starting up or developing throughout the country. Also early-stage high potential start-ups should approach the Business Innovation Centres (BICS).
Your local bank and credit union are worth talking to. The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland was set up to offer loans to SMEs that are up to 2 per cent cheaper than market rates.
The Start-up Refunds for Entrepreneurs (sure.gov.ie) may be a useful starting place as you may be eligible to claim back the income tax you paid in the previous six years to invest equity in the company.
Microfinance Ireland provides loans to small businesses with no more than 10 employees, including sole traders and start-ups. There are loans of up to €25,000 for commercially-viable proposals. Your Leo might suggest the Microfinance fund, which offers a reduced rate for Leo clients.
The Short-Term Enterprise Allowance helps support people who have lost their jobs but want to start their own business. There are also options like the three-year corporate tax exemption and the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance.
The Employment and Investment Incentive Scheme allows individual investors tax relief on investments they make in other companies. The Start Your Own Business scheme provides relief from income tax for unemployed people (long-term) who start a new business.
Fifteen companies can each win prizes of 10 days of professional consultancy, training and development, from a total fund of €150,000 from the Optimise ecommerce and web development fund.
If your start-up is a limited company you can apply for an Innovation voucher worth €5,000. There are feasibility study or innovation grants where you can get 50 per cent of the costs of your study up to €15,000.
There are 150 places available each year on the New Frontiers entrepreneur development programme and successful candidates receive €15,000 and training in such areas as business planning and marketing. If you are from Dublin, your business may be eligible for the Refundable Priming Grant, available to start-ups that have a job creation strategy.
The NDRC (formerly the National Digital Research Centre) is renowned as one of the best global tech incubators and a great option if you are a digital company.They also run a LaunchPad programme, the Venture Lab programme and Female Founders start-up initiative. The Guinness Enterprise Centre, Origin8 from the National College of Art and Design, University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, Dublin City University, NUI Galway, Maynooth University, the University of Limerick and many Institutes of Technology offer supports such as office space and mentoring. If you have a food business idea talk to the Food Academy Start Programme, which is a collaboration between Leos, SuperValu and Bord Bia.
There are accelerator programmes such as Launchbox, the Propellor Venture Accelerator, the Female High Fliers, Startupbootcamp, Seedcamp and Dogpatch Labs.
There are competitions such as the AIB Irish Times Start-Up Academy, Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, Tech All Stars, Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, Guinness Amplify and Compass Group’s The Idea Works.
Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular option for businesses trying to raise funds to get started. In Ireland sites include Linked Finance, Fundit.ie, Kickstarter and Seed Ups.
Venture capital funding may be an area you want to explore if things are progressing with your business and you want to see it grow.
Your Leo may advise if you are eligible for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme with vouchers of up to €2,500 available. There is also an online tool on your local Leo website to search for resources relevant to your business (localenterprise.ie).
Angel investors – the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) is an all-island umbrella group responsible for the development of business angel syndicates. Last year business angels invested €10.8 million into 50 companies. HBAN is a joint initiative of InterTradeIreland and Enterprise Ireland.
The Credit Guarantee Scheme is for small and medium-sized businesses that are commercially viable but have difficulty getting credit. If you have had difficulty accessing loans from a bank or commercial lending firm, you can apply for an independent review from the Credit Review Office (creditreview.ie). Also contact your local Citizens Information service (citizensinformation.ie) or the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS). There is also a voluntary advice service available from Chartered Accountants Voluntary Advice (CAVA).