I thank the Deputy for bringing this business idea to my attention. My Department has already had contact with the Deputy's correspondent. Enterprise Ireland has a broad system of financial and non-financial supports in place to assist clients through all stages of the business development cycle. My Department has provided the Deputy's correspondent in this matter with the contact details of the relevant Development Adviser in Enterprise Ireland who is available to discuss his proposal with him and who can provide him with details of the supports available from Enterprise Ireland to entrepreneurs and early stage companies that have an innovative product, service or technology, and have the potential to achieve exports sales and create employment. These supports include:
Pre Investment Supports for High Potential Start-Ups (HPSUs)
New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme This national incubation programme offers successful applicants a package of supports to help accelerate their business development and to equip them with the skills to successfully start and grow a company.
HPSU Feasibility Grant Used to investigate the viability and potential of an innovative/high potential start-up and the development of an Investor Ready Business Plan.
Innovative HPSU Fund (Equity) The Innovative HPSU Fund allows Enterprise Ireland to offer equity investment to HPSU clients, on a co-funded basis to support the implementation of company business plans. First time and follow-on equity investments in HPSUs are supported under this offer.
Mentor Grant Used to support the cost of a Mentor Assignment. Enterprise Ireland can match an entrepreneur with an experienced business mentor to assist the start-up phase or advise on specific areas of a company development plan.
Innovation Voucher Innovation Vouchers, worth €5,000, are available to assist a company to work with a registered college or knowledge provider to explore a business opportunity or technical problem.
Internet Growth Acceleration Programme (iGAP) A 6 month intensive management development programme aimed exclusively at high potential internet/games companies.
As I outlined previously, funding from the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) would be suitable for small start-up enterprises, such as those linked with the SIABH hub proposal. Eligible clients may qualify for a Priming Grant, which is a business start-up grant that is available to micro enterprises within the first 18 months of start-up. The grants are subject to certain criteria, such as commercial viability, avoidance of displacement of jobs elsewhere in the economy, creation of sustainable employment, etc. The typical Priming Grant payable is 50% of the investment or €80,000, whichever is the lesser, although funding of up to €150,000 may be provided in exceptional circumstances. Students wishing to engage with the local enterprise board following graduation may wish to note that the contact person for Dublin CEB is Greg Swift, CEO, 5th Floor, O'Connell Bridge House, Dublin 2, tel: 01-635 1144, email: email@example.com, website: www.dceb.ie, although contact details for all CEBs are available on www.enterpriseboards.ie."
It is a requirement of all approved applications that matching funding is available from the applicant for investment in the venture. This requirement for matching funding is a proven technique in stimulating change, in that the commitment of entrepreneurs to development projects is significantly increased by virtue of the promoter having a financial interest in the success of the business. In this regard, the availability of the Microenterprise Loan Fund might be of benefit to Mr Bell’s students in overcoming this condition.
The Microenterprise Loan Fund was launched on the 27 September 2012 to improve access to credit for entrepreneurs and micro-enterprises and to facilitate the growth and expansion of viable businesses from all industry sectors which have been refused access to credit by banks.
The Fund provides support in the form of loans of up to €25,000, available to start-up, newly established, or growing microenterprises employing less than 10 people, with viable business propositions, that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by banks. The potential viability of the business proposal will be the dominant factor in all credit decisions.
Generally loans will be provided for business start-up costs, expansions costs and working capital. Due to its focus on job creation and the benefits this creates, the new Microenterprise Loan Fund will have a greater risk appetite than Banks could possibly have and therefore will be able to fund and help create and sustain additional micro-enterprises which cannot satisfy conventional Bank credit criteria.
Further information on the Scheme is available at www.microfinanceireland.ie and by telephone on 01-2601007.