Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (746)

Róisín Shortall


746. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the funding provided for start-up support. [36660/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has been continually supporting and encouraging start-up enterprises and entrepreneurs nationally through the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and Enterprise Ireland (EI) with both agencies contributing to the economic success of the country. They are central to the continued growth of small and medium business and the success of future start up enterprises and entrepreneurs.

The LEOs, located in the Local Authorities nationwide provide a ‘first-stop-shop’ for advice, guidance, financial assistance and other supports for entrepreneurs intending to start or grow a business.

LEO grant support schemes for start-ups include Priming Grants, which are available to micro enterprises within the first 18 months of start-up and may be paid to buy new equipment and assist with direct business costs such as salary, rent, utilities, marketing and consultancy. In 2018, the LEOs approved 273 applications to the value of €6,379,733.

The LEOs may also offer a Feasibility Study Grant, the aim of which is to assist start-ups with the cost of researching a new business idea to establish viability and sustainability. In 2018 the LEOs approved 165 applications to the value of €1,491,230.

The LEOs can work with clients on their applications to Microfinance Ireland (MFI) for small business loans of between €2,000 and €25,000 (unsecured). Loans for commercially viable proposals can be used to help fund start-up costs, working capital or business expansion. By applying for an MFI small business loan through a Local Enterprise Office, clients can avail of a 1% reduction in the interest rate charged.

In addition, the LEOs run Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur Programme with an investment fund of €2 million, which is open to people between the ages of 18 and 35 with an innovative business idea, new start-up or established business.

Furthermore, the Agile Innovation Fund has been developed by Enterprise Ireland to support product, service and process innovation to build competitive advantage. The key benefit of this support is that it allows for a simple application process and delivers a faster response time from application to approval. The new Agile Innovation Fund is also open to eligible Local Enterprise Office clients and it allows companies to access up to 50% in support towards innovation projects with a total cost of up to €300,000.

Additionally, Enterprise Ireland actively works with High Potential Start-Ups, companies with the potential to develop an innovative product or service for sale in international markets and the potential to create 10 jobs and €1m in sales within 3 to 4 years of starting up. In 2018, Enterprise Ireland supported 82 HPSUs within the Class of 2018 with equity investment.

In 2018, Enterprise Ireland approved 50 new early stage businesses investments of up to €50,000 each through a series of Competitive Start Fund calls to support companies to reach key technical and commercial milestones.

The LEOs and Enterprise Ireland are an outstanding resource available to businesses and their variety of clients in such a diversity of sectors is a demonstration of the expertise available through these Agencies. Businesses that work closely with benefit significantly from the supports, mentoring and training they provide. My  Department will ensure that the enterprise agencies continue to get the resources they need to create jobs and allow start-up enterprises to flourish throughout all regions.