Venture capital provides investment capital, as opposed to credit, to start-up firms and small businesses with perceived long-term growth potential. It is a very important source of funding for start-ups that do not have access to capital markets. It typically entails high risk for the investor, but it has the potential for above-average returns. Venture capital can also include managerial and technical expertise. It facilitates company growth and job creation and continues to support the creation of innovative and internationally oriented start-ups that can go fast to market and scale. These high-growth innovative Irish companies are in fast growing sectors, including ICT, life sciences, high tech manufacturing and the green economy.
Last May I announced a new call for expressions of interest under the €175 million Seed and Venture Capital Scheme 2013-2018, which will see the continuation of the Government’s support for innovative Irish SMEs. The Scheme is targeting an additional €525 million in funding from the private sector, which will mean a total fund of €700 million available for investment over the lifetime of the Scheme.
The Venture Capital Funds committed to under this Scheme, as well as the Seed and Venture Capital Scheme 2007-2012, can invest in any opportunities on the Islands that fit their respective fund strategies.
Recognising that many of the Island based enterprises are microenterprises, the deputy will be aware that I established a Microenterprise Loan Fund in 2012, through Microfinance Ireland to provide microenterprises with access to loans of up to €25,000. Island microenterprises can contact their local County Enterprise Board and Microfinance Ireland concerning the operation of this Fund.