Enterprise Ireland shows Global Ambition


Enterprise Ireland supports 125 start-up companies in 2020

by Billy Linehan

In a virtual event in Dublin on 25 February, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD has announced that Enterprise Ireland, the government’s national enterprise agency, invested more than €48 million in Irish start-ups in 2020 and supported 125 new start-up companies.
Investment was provided through Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) and Competitive Start Fund (CSF) programmes.

The investment of more than €48 million is the highest level of funding that Enterprise Ireland has awarded to early stage companies.
Key sectors that Enterprise Ireland invested in in 2020 included fintech, cybersecurity, digital health and agri-tech, with half of the start-ups based outside the Dublin region. In addition, 38 women-led start-up companies were funded – a key focus for Enterprise Ireland.

Starting a business in a pandemic

“I have nothing but admiration for the many entrepreneurs across the country who have been brave enough to start up new businesses during the pandemic” said Leo Varadkar TD. “It’s been an incredibly difficult year. I have seen countless examples all across the country of business owners overcoming adversity and demonstrating the kind of ingenuity, adaptability and resilience that entrepreneurs are known for.


New opportunities in the green economy – Global Ambition

Kevin Sherry, Executive Director, commented: “A strong start-up economy is absolutely vital to the future of Ireland and scaling and growing the export and start-up base is one of Enterprise Ireland’s strategic priorities. “Now, more than ever, we need to be innovative and carve out more niches in international markets where business can thrive. Despite the impact of Covid-19, 2020 was another successful year for Irish start-ups, with growth noted in the life sciences and ICT sectors. We are also seeing new opportunities for ambitious entrepreneurs and start-ups in the green economy as well as doing business in a post-pandemic environment.”

Start-ups supported by Enterprise Ireland in 2020 include:

  • 80 HPSU investments – start-up businesses with the potential to create 10 jobs and €1 million in sales within three to four years of starting up.
  • 45 Competitive Start Fund (CSF) investments, which inject critical early-stage funding into new businesses.
  • 50% of the new start-ups are located outside of Dublin.
  • 38 women-led start-up companies were approved investment.
  • 12 HPSUs were successfully commercialised in partnership with 3rd level research institutions.
  • 44 additional HPSUs received follow-on investment funding as their businesses scaled.

Implementing the Action Plan for Women in Business

Jenny Melia, Divisonal Manager of High Potential Start-Ups added: “In Enterprise Ireland, we have always been committed to helping founders to start and grow their businesses internationally and in 2020, we also focused on supporting these businesses as they navigated their way through the pandemic.

“For the second year running, 38 of the businesses supported were founded by women. Since 2011, the percentage of HPSUs founded by women has grown from 7% to almost 24% in 2020, marking the continuation of this trend, which underpins the Enterprise Ireland Action Plan for Women in Business.
“The Action Plan, which was launched last year, aims to increase the participation of women in entrepreneurship and business leadership. The class of 2020 are great role models for new founders and we look forward to working closely with them to help fulfil their potential and to create strong and sustainable export businesses.”

Des Traynor on Lessons from the early days

The online event featured a keynote address from Des Traynor, CSO of Irish Unicorn Intercom, and a clear example of Global Ambition recognised.
Des made an impression on the live virtual audience sharing this thoughts on the importance of vision, first hires, first customers and alignment.
He stressed “It’s imperative that you keep your company aligned by having repeatable principles that govern how it runs. That way, you’ll be depended on less for the day-to-day decisions and you can spend your time focused on high-impact matters.”

On decision making he suggested that “every decision you have to make highlights a missing principle.” And he quoted Patrick Collinson (of the Irish-American Unicorn Stripe), “the first 10 people you hire…are so important because you are not just hiring those 10 people, you’re actually hiring a 100 people.”

Des and his co-founders set up Intercom in Dublin in 2011 and the company is now valued at €1.72 billion

Panel discussions

Panel discussions featured Nicky Deasy of Yield Lab; Brian Shields of Neurent Medical, James of XOCEAN; Helen McBreen of Atlantic Bridge, Conor O’Loughlin of Glofox and Alan Coleman of Sweepr.

The Enterprise Ireland Showcase is an annual event, for more information see Showcase 2019

See more articles on Enterprise Ireland HERE

And about Enterprise Ireland

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