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Irish Entrepreneurs – the heroes of our economic recovery

Over recent years, as part of the Government’s drive to increase employment, we have witnessed the proliferation of start-up incubators, accelerators, investment funds, and competitions to encourage entrepreneurship as a career choice.

As the State agency responsible for growing Irish companies and increasing Irish exports, Enterprise Ireland (EI) has been playing its part in this drive to increase entrepreneurship in Ireland. This article outlines the main Enterprise Ireland supports for individuals, teams and companies from very early-stage start-ups right up to export stage and beyond. We also present some examples of successful client start-ups. 

Start-up funding
81 Irish start-up companies were awarded early stage funding under the Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund last year. Under the terms of this fund Enterprise Ireland take a €50,000 equity investment in the very early stage start-up. To date EI has invested in almost 300 companies through this fund.

Funding for high-potential start up companies

Enterprise Ireland invests in high potential start up companies, giving them access to a new source of funding. In February 2015, 102 High Potential Start-Ups (HPSUs) companies which Enterprise Ireland invested in during 2014 were addressed by Minister Richard Bruton T.D. at the annual EI High Potential Start-Up event.  Those 102 start-up companies are expected to create 1500 new jobs over the next three years! (You can see the profiles of the participating compaies here).

These new start-ups are across a wide range of business sectors including software and services, medical devices and pharmaceuticals, cleantech, engineering, food and consumer products. They include 43 new female founded businesses, the highest number ever.

“Certainly in any economy start-ups are the life’s blood of the economy in terms of creating new opportunities and new jobs going forward and bringing new technologies in,” Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon said.

Addressing the HPSU Start-Up community Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Enterprise Richard Bruton described Irish entrepreneurs as “the heroes of this recovery.”

“Moving away from property to focus on innovation, moving away from debt to focus on competitiveness, that’s what’s at the heart of the success that I think Enterprise Ireland is now creating,” he said.

Developing entrepreneurs

New Frontiers 2014 participants

The New Frontiers entrepreneur development programme is a national programme delivered locally through the Institutes of Technology. The aim of the programme is to assist potential entrepreneurs in the development of ideas and acceleration of business development, and provides training in such things as financial management, market research and patenting. In 2014, 137 entrepreneurs went through the programme.

Although New Frontiers is a national, standardised programme, the application process and timetable varies from one Institute of Technology to another. So the first step in applying to the programme is to speak to the Programme Manager at your nearest IT. See upcoming deadlines for applications.

Directing start-ups to export opportunities

EI provides export workshops and support programmes for companies looking to explore exporting avenues. EI's international offices offer assistance to businesses as they go into the new markets, helping companies both win business and grow their export figures. But while the company is getting export ready, they don’t even have to travel very far. Through excellent EI market research centre, located in East Point, Dublin, Irish companies can access business intelligence on various countries, markets and sectors.

Enterprise Ireland Market Research Centre 

Migrating start-ups into Ireland
Last year alone EI Overseas Entrepreneurship team helped 14 overseas start-ups move to Ireland. By maximising Ireland's entrepreneurial talent pipeline and creating a fertile ecosystem we can accelerate this process.

The abundance of positive business news makes an impression that the Irish ecosystem is blooming this Spring. Since the beginning of 2015 there has been at least one stand out start-up success story, and with it, new role models to follow for next wannabe entrepreneurs. The Irish start-up founders prove to be innovative, committed and ambitious to grow rapidly and become significant exporters.

Meet some of the Irish start-up heroes making waves this Spring in Ireland and abroad:


Movidius founders Sean Mitchell, COO, and David Moloney, CTO

Enterprise Ireland supported technology company Movidius is to create 100 jobs over the next three years in Ireland after it raised $40 million in funding. This represents is one of the largest venture capital investments ever in Ireland for a technology company and the largest globally for a fabless semiconductor company in the past two years. The investment was led by Summit Bridge Capital, the China-Ireland Growth Technology Fund co-managed by Atlantic Bridge Capital and WestSummit Capital. Read more.. 


Stephen Quinn CEO and John Quinn Chairman of Jobbio

Jobbio, a game changing hiring platform developed by Irish brothers, Stephen and John Quinn, will expand its international footprint in the US and UK, having secured €1 million funding via AIB Seed Capital Fund, MXC Capital, Enterprise Ireland, and private investment. This funding will be used to expand Jobbio’s UK and Irish operations as well as launch Jobbio in the US. Read more..


Cian Ó Maidín, CEO of nearForm and Richard Rodger, CTO of nearForm 

Three-year-old Irish technology company nearForm announced job boost for Couty Wexford with 100 roles at its new headquarters in Tramore. Speaking at the launch of the new offices, company CEO Cian Ó Maidín said: “It’s a really proud day for us to announce these high-end jobs for Tramore. We were strongly urged by many parties to relocate to the U.S. We chose to stay here and build our company in a place where we wanted to raise our families. Our growth to 35 staff over the last three years has vindicated this decision. We look forward to growing in Tramore and hiring local and international expertise to share in our journey.” Read more..


Emmet O’Neill, Chief Product Officer of StoryToys

Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, StoryToys creates and publishes highly innovative and entertaining software for children including interactive books and games. Lately the company was awarded the prestigious BolognaRagazzi Digital Award at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the world’s leading event for children’s publishing since 1963. StorySoys developed an interactive 3D ‘My Very Hungry Caterpillar’ app for children based on the work of renowned illustrator and author Eric Carle. The Irish team beat competition from more than 190 entries. Read more...

Click through the other sections to discover more examples of Irish business success stories…

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