I propose to take Questions Nos. 8, 11, 187 and 188 together.
On February 9th, the Irish Innovation Seed Fund Programme was launched by the Tánaiste and the Minister for Finance. This Programme has a strategic emphasis on attracting new fund managers to the Irish equity ecosystem and opening new pipelines for finance. It is a fund of funds, which is an indirect form of equity financing for SMEs. SMEs will not directly apply for funding through this programme. As the fund is at the processing stage, the information sought by the Deputy is not available.
The programme, which is being managed by the European Investment Fund (EIF), will provide vital venture capital to innovative Irish companies at seed stage. This is an important step in developing and expanding the pool of private capital available to early-stage companies wanting to grow in Ireland.
Totalling €90 million, the programme is made up of a €30 million contribution from my Department through our agency Enterprise Ireland (EI), whilst the EIF will match this investment by providing a further €30 million. The Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) will co-invest a further €30 million. This €90 million, backed by these strong partners, will be an important cornerstone investment and will attract private co-investment.
Essentially, a pool of funding, drawn from multiple sources, provides capital for specialist fund managers, who will in turn then seek to invest that capital in SMEs, from areas that are often less well served across a variety of sectors and regions in Ireland.
The first call for expressions of interest from experienced fund managers was issued in February and closed on April 29th. It is expected that three to four successful funds will receive investment, and they will, in turn, invest in multiple SMEs from different sectors and regions across the State.
The programme partners, EIF, EI, and ISIF, have been processing and screening the applications, in line with the programme’s strategic goals. Once these are fully processed, the plan is to sign at least one fund before the end of 2022 with the remaining agreements to be signed in the first half of 2023. Once an agreement has been signed with a fund, the fund will then seek SME’s in which to invest.