In respect of 2010, a total of 80 new High Potential Start-Up Companies were supported through a programme operated by Enterprise Ireland, the agency for the development of indigenous Irish companies. Of that number, 50% were companies established outside the Dublin region, contributing to company growth across the country. The companies were generated in sectors including Medical Devices, Software, Financial Services, Food, Cleantech and Engineering. The investment approved to these Start-Ups was approximately €18.7 million and in addition, a further 16 High Potential Start-Up companies, already established, also received follow-on investment funding, amounting to over €2 million during 2010.
Over the period 2008-2010, Enterprise Ireland has supported a total of 224 High Potential Start-Up companies. The establishment of these new companies, across a wide range of knowledge-intensive sectors, is a clear indication that entrepreneurs throughout the country have the ambition, ability and courage to take their ideas forward and create new and innovative, export-focused businesses, despite the difficult economic conditions.
For 2011, additional money has been provided to increase the momentum of new company development. Enterprise Ireland has set a target to support 85 High Potential Start-Ups in 2011 and the aim is to increase this figure to 100 per year by 2013. Currently, the agency is working with a strong pipeline of start-up prospects and expects to be able to achieve this challenging target in the year ahead.
To strengthen the development of High Potential Start-Up companies, Enterprise Ireland has developed a range of initiatives which are aimed at growing the start-up environment, including:
The continued development of the Seed and Venture Capital market in Ireland — a record level of seed capital is now available with in excess of €120m currently under management.
The launch of the Internet and Games Competitive Start Fund to support internet and games start ups. This competitive fund provides start ups with early stage funding to explore and determine the market fit of their business and progress to product launch. The initial fund will be €500,000 and it is envisaged that this will be expanded to include further sectors in early 2011.
Focus on overseas entrepreneurs as a rich source of start-ups, which will include the introduction of development programmes and competitions relating to business plan which will attract new and serial entrepreneurs from outside Ireland, consistent with the objective to make Ireland an internationally recognised innovation hub.
An ongoing collaboration is underway between Enterprise Ireland and other relevant players such as the Universities and Institutes of Technology (particularly in the context of research commercialisation and technology transfer), the Business Innovation Centres, City and County Enterprise Boards, Business Angel Networks, Incubators and Enterprise Centres, which play an important role in both the identification and development of entrepreneurial prospects which can progress to the generation of new High Potential Start-Up companies.