Ireland Economic Development Agency Strengthens Commitment to Startup Ecosystem Development

Ireland Economic Development Agency Strengthens Commitment to Startup Ecosystem Development

by July 25, 2022

Enterprise Ireland, the nation’s economic development agency, has committed to supporting the development a robust startup ecosystem, sharing ambitions to expand the pool of early-stage startups it works with and supports to 450 by 2024, a figure which represents a 20% increase from 2021 levels.

These ambitions were outlined in Enterprise Ireland’s Strategy 2022-2024, which sets out the agency’s areas of focus for the coming years. As part of the plan, Enterprise Ireland says it will focus on accelerating entrepreneurship, and continue to help entrepreneurs start, grow and scale Irish businesses.

Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators, Enterprise Ireland Strategy 2022-2024

This will be done through a number of initiatives, Enterprise Ireland says, including the new EUR 90 million Irish Innovation Seed Fund program launched by the government earlier this year, which will support young startups working in strategic targeted areas like fintech, life sciences and women-led enterprises.

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For larger and more established companies, Enterprise Ireland will offer assistance and support to help them scale and internationalize, providing them with pathways to new sources of funding, connecting them with opportunities overseas, and helping them strengthen their management and financial capabilities. The aim is to increase the number of companies achieving sales of over EUR 10 million, EUR 20 million and EUR 50 million by 10% by 2024.

Efforts will also be put on skill development, the agency says. It has set a target of supporting 1,000 leaders and managers on significant management development programs, with at least 30% participation by women.

Fostering innovation

Established in 1998, Enterprise Ireland is the state agency responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets, helping them start, grow, innovate, and increase export sales.

The agency also provides funding and supports for companies of all sizes and growth stages, ranging from entrepreneurs with business propositions for a high potential startup, to large companies expanding their activities, improving efficiency and growing international sales.

Enterprise Ireland’s role differs from that of the Industrial Development Agency (IDA Ireland), the country’s inward investment promotion and development agency which is responsible for the attraction and development of foreign investment in Ireland.

This arrangement stands out from other jurisdictions like Switzerland, Hong Kong and Lithuania where only one investment promotion agency exists. These agencies typically act as a resource center for foreign companies looking to launch locally, helping them setting up and providing them with consultancy and support services free of charge.

Enterprise Ireland, meanwhile, has taken an active role in fostering the Irish startup ecosystem by both helping homegrown startups expand overseas, and assisting foreign entrepreneurs in relocating to Ireland.

In 2021, the agency supported 82 new high potential startups through investments of more than EUR 18 million and other non-financial supports. 24 of these were led by female entrepreneurs and 11 emerged from academic research.

Also in 2021, 43 pre-seed companies went through the Competitive Start Fund (CSF), which provides select companies with up to EUR 50,000 in equity funding. These received a combined funding of EUR 2 million.

For the past three years, Pitchbook has ranked Enterprise Ireland amongst the top ten most active venture capital (VC) investors in the world alongside world-renowned VCs and incubators like Y Combinator, SOSV and Sequoia Capital.