Guide to funding start-up businesses in Ireland

Guide to funding start-up businesses in Ireland

By: Damien
12 Jul, 2022
Starting a business is a significant venture and while you may have big ambitions, it can often mean finding additional funds to realise your ambitions. But there are plenty of grants open to start-ups, as our guide shows.

Setting up a business may be the realisation of a dream for many people, but the start is just that – the beginning of the journey. And, often, that journey requires finance to ensure those dreams are fully realised.

Ireland is renowned for being business friendly – it is one of the reasons why so many international businesses choose the country as a European base – and part of that is providing easy access to grants. There are plenty of government-backed schemes start-ups can apply to and this guide highlights some of the more popular.

Local Enterprise Offices



Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) provide a wealth of support, including advice on the most effective ways to start a company, training and mentoring and financial help for businesses such as sole traders and limited companies.

One of the many grants on offer includes the Expansion Grant. This is open to sole traders, partnerships or limited companies that have been established for 18 months or more and are looking to grow and create jobs. Up to €150,000 can be claimed through this. Applications will need to be through an LEO business adviser.

Another grant that can be claimed is the Priming Grant, which is for assisting with the hiring staff, and is worth up to €15,000. It is open to sole traders, partnerships and limited companies with under 18 months of trading, and there is no obligation to repay it.

For businesses looking to move more into ecommerce, there is the Trading Online Voucher. This provides €2,500 towards building an ecommerce function into a website; for example, online payments or appointment booking. It can’t just be used to upgrade general content on the site. Note also that the entrepreneur has to match 10% of the funding, and also attend a workshop first before claiming the grant.

Enterprise Ireland



Enterprise Ireland primarily helps businesses to expand into different markets – it is usually where businesses go after the LEO to take the next step. While there are a range of funding options that can be applied for, the criteria to secure them are stricter.

Grants that can be accessed includes The Business Financial Planning Grant, which gives funds to engage outside consultants who can help to formulate strategies with the owners of the company and high light potential funding opportunities from external sources.

Other support includes the Market Discovery Fund, which is for funding market research and assessing plans to enter markets outside of Ireland.

Digitalisation vouchers can also be claimed, which can be used to digitalise business processes. These can help a business to stay competitive going forward and improve business efficiency.

Enterprise Allowances



There are also government schemes that aim to help people who are long-term unemployed or have been made redundant to start their own business.

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance is open to those who have been in receipt of benefits including Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit for at least nine consecutive months and are aged under 66. This scheme enables the entrepreneur to keep a percentage of their benefit for a maximum of 24 months.

Meanwhile, the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance is open to those who have lost their jobs and are receiving Jobseeker’s Benefit and not undertaking any part-time work. It is paid for a maximum of nine months. Taking this up doesn’t affect a person’s eligibility for grants from bodies such as the LEO.

Support from the private sector



There is more than government support available for start-ups – the private sector is also very active in Ireland.

For instance, there are the regional Business Innovation Centres (BICs). These are private bodies focused on helping people to set up or grow a business.

As well as providing facilities such as incubator spaces and networking events with local specialists and the like, they also offer access to finance such as introductions to local angel investors – successful businesspeople (usually) who provide funds to help start-up businesses to develop.

BICs can also provide advice on which forms of grant or investment are right for your company.

To get involved, you should contact your local BIC directly.

There are also a range of sector-specific investors. For example, there is NRDC, which is operated by start-up hub Dogpatch Labs. NRDC looks to nurture start-ups that meet a unmet market need or solves a problem.

As well as support, mentoring and the offer of workspace, the NRDC has an Accelerator programme where businesses can access up to €100,000.

Support for women



There are also various grants specifically aimed at encouraging women to set up their own business.

On example is Going For Growth, which is aimed at female entrepreneurs who want to grow their companies. The criteria here is that they are the lead shareholder in an established business. Applicants can register at Going For Growth’s website.

There is also the Competitive Start Fund – Women Entrepreneurship, which is run by Enterprise Ireland. This is aimed at start-ups involved in manufacturing or trading services overseas that are led by women, and the businesses go up against each other to secure expansion funds.

The criteria to apply includes having one or more women in the senior management who has at least 25% of the company’s voting share.

Moving to Ireland



Support is not just restricted to local Irish entrepreneurs. As mentioned, Ireland is attractive internationally for its ease of doing business and company set-up process, which is why many organisations move to Ireland to set up shop.

Again, there are a number of funding options that can be applied for. Enterprise Ireland is often a port of call for entrepreneurs and businesses coming from overseas and are investment ready. Any interested companies have to meet certain criteria to be eligible.

For businesses that aren’t ready for investment, Enterprise Ireland has an accelerator programme that includes a grant that covers things like cost of living.

In addition, IDA Ireland, the Irish government’s inward investment promotion agency, helps many companies to come to Ireland and expand every year.

IDA Ireland can provide grants, or provide signposting to where grants can be accessed, including for research, design and innovation and training and upskilling employees.

Get advice



As this guide shows, there are many ways to raise funds for a start-up business, but when looking to do this it is advisable to seek expert advice from a financial adviser such as Malone & Co. At Malone & Co, our financial experts have in-depth knowledge of how to apply for grants, and which one are right for your circumstances.
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