The 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), located in the Local Authorities nationwide are the ‘first-stop-shop’ for advice and guidance, financial assistance and other supports for anyone intending to start or grow a business.
The LEOs provide a ‘signposting’ service in relation to all relevant State supports available through agencies such as Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, Education and Training Boards, the Credit Review Office and Microfinance Ireland. The LEOs can also offer advice and guidance in areas such as Local Authority rates, Public Procurement and other regulations affecting business.
The LEOs can offer direct grant aid to microenterprises (up to 10 employees) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector which, over time, have the potential to develop into strong export entities. Subject to certain eligibility criteria, the LEOs can provide financial assistance within three main categories:
- Feasibility Grants (investigating the potential of a business idea)
- Priming Grants (to part-fund a start-up)
- Business Development grants for existing businesses that want to expand.
For Start-ups or expanding businesses, the LEOs may be able to offer ‘soft’ support in the form of training or provide a mentor to work with the business proposer including courses such as:
- The Start Your Own Business programme guides clients through the various aspects of business and business planning. The objective is to assist clients in assessing their idea, its viability and to decide if they should proceed or take a step back.
- The Mentor Programme is designed to match up the knowledge, skills, insights and entrepreneurial capability of experienced business practitioners with small business owner/ managers who need practical and strategic one to one advice and guidance.
Additionally, the Research and Development Tax credit is aimed at start-up small and micro firms, who will be able to claim a higher rate of credit of 30% and will have improved options with regards to claiming the payable credit. These firms will also be able to claim the credit for expenditure incurred in advance of commencing to trade.
Furthermore, Enterprise Ireland is the state agency with responsibility for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets. Enterprise Ireland works in partnership with Irish enterprises to help them start, innovate, scale and win export sales in global markets. In this way, Enterprise Ireland support sustainable economic growth, regional development and secure employment.
A key focus of Enterprise Ireland’s activity is supporting start-ups and the start-up ecosystem as illustrated by the following EI programmes and service level agreements:
- National Entrepreneurial Development Programme
- Competitive Start Fund
- High Potential Start Ups equity support
- Regional Accelerator Scheme 2015 -2017
- Campus Incubator Scheme
- Seed and Venture Capital Scheme 2013 -2018
- Service Level Agreement in place with the BICs (Business Incubation Centres)
- Service Level Agreement in place with Local Enterprise Offices to support micro-enterprise.
The supports and Service Level Agreements above enable Enterprise Ireland to support start-ups from idea generation up to scaling and succeeding in international markets.
I am confident therefore that in the days and weeks ahead, the LEO network and Enterprise Ireland will continue their robust and meaningful engagement with their many clients and will remain an integral component in this Government’s toolkit to prepare our SME sector to face any challenge that comes with establishing new enterprises.