Thursday, 20 December 2012

Competitive Start Fund will open on Wednesday 9th January 2013

The next call for applications to the Competitive Start Fund will open on Wednesday 9th January 2013 and will close on Wednesday 23rd January 2013. Late applications will not be accepted. All applications to the fund must be made via the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System.
This fund is open to applications from early stage companies, who meet the eligibility criteria outlined below, and who are active in the ICT & Industrial sectors including the following subsectors: Internet, Games, Apps, Mobile, SaaS, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Software, Lifesciences, Cleantech and Industrial Products.

Overview of the Competitive Start Fund

The purpose of the Competitive Start Fund is to accelerate the growth of start-up companies that have the capability to succeed in global markets.  The fund is designed to enable those companies reach key commercial and technical milestones, for example:
  • Evaluate overseas market opportunities and reach firm conclusions regarding the viability of the proposed business.
  • Build a prototype.
  • Secure a reference site.
  • Develop a market entry plan for exploiting international opportunities.
  • Secure partnership deal or strategic alliance.
  • Identify suitable channels to international markets.
  • Secure third party investment e.g. business angel, Venture Capital.

Am I eligible?

You are eligible to apply if you are an existing or potential client of Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up Department.
The Competitive Start Fund is open to:
  • Companies who are active in the ICT & Industrial sectors to include the following sub-sectors: Internet, Games, Mobile, Apps, SaaS, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Software, Lifesciences, Cleantech and Industrial Products.
  • Individuals who, prior to Enterprise Ireland’s investment, will register a company which will be active in these sectors.
In addition, applicants must fulfil all of the following criteria:
  • Must be a manufacturing or an internationally traded services business.
  • Must not have received equity funding of €100K or more prior to the competition closing date.
  • Must be pre-trading or recently commenced trading, i.e. does not have annual revenues in excess of €60k in the current financial year to date or in any previous financial year.
  • Must be less than six years old i.e. date your first employee commenced full time employment.
  • Must be capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising sales of €1m within 3 years of starting up* or, where a company is required to have FDA or CE approval, within three years of approval to sell.
  • Must not be involved in activities that fall within gambling or "gaming" as defined in the Gaming & Lotteries Act 1956.
*starting up defined as therelevant competition closing date.
Please note applicants must be eligible to live and work in Ireland.

What is the maximum funding available and what costs are eligible?

  • Applications are considered on a competitive basis.  
  • The maximum support available is €50,000 for a 10% ordinary equity stake in the start-up company. 
  • The investment shall be released in two equal tranches.  
  • The first tranche will be released to successful applicants only when it provides confirmation of additional new cash investment for equity of €5,000.  This new investment in equity of €5,000 by the successful applicant is to occur post the relevant call close date. Capitalisation of existing director/related party loans will not qualify. The company must also meet the general terms and conditions of the scheme.
  • Successful applicants will additionally be appointed a mentor who will work with the company for up to 10 days.

Eligible costs

The overall equity investment will be towards the costs associated with developing the business plan and making progress on key technical and commercial milestones. The following activities are expected to form the basis of expenditure;
  • Salaries
  • Travel
  • Consultancy Fees
  • Other Expenditure

How do I apply?

If you are a first-time applicant you will be required to register on the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System.
Applications must be made via the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System between Wednesday 9th January 2013 and Wednesday 23rd January 2013 at 3pm. We strongly recommend that you commence your application well in advance of the call close date and time.You can commence your application and save it to revisit at a later stage.
To support your written online application you are offered the opportunity to pitch directly to the Assessment Part 1 Evaluation Panel using video interviewing technology. Each applicant will be asked to complete a 4 minute online video interview/pitch which will be viewed by the evaluation panel as part of the evaluation process. We would strongly encourage all applicants to complete this to assist with contextualizing your application.
You will be asked to address the following three questions:
  1. Tell us about you and your team. (1 minute is allocated to answer this question).
  2. Tell us about your product or service and why it is innovative (1 minute is allocated to answer this question).
  3. Two minutes to add any further comments you may have.
You will receive an email inviting you to complete your online video interview/pitch within 2 hours of commencing your Competitive Start Fund online application.
Any expenditure incurred prior to the competition’s call close date will not be eligible for support.
Please note that an application for approval of an equity investment for companies selected under this scheme shall be subject to:
(a) Approval from Enterprise Ireland’s Investment Committee.
(b) The company agreeing to the Terms and Conditions set out in the Enterprise Ireland Term Sheet.
(c) The company agreeing to enter into a Share Subscription and Shareholders Agreement with Enterprise Ireland.

For more information on this Equity Process read our CSF Equity FAQs.

How is my application evaluated?

Assessment Part 1

An evaluation panel comprising external consultants in conjunction with representatives from Enterprise Ireland will evaluate each application and will score them under the following criteria: 

Evaluation CriteriaWeighting
Company and Promoter Profile25%
Product/Service & Market Opportunity25%
Execution of the Business Plan25%
Product/Service Innovation15%
Ability to deliver key Commercial and Technical Milestones over the coming 12 months10%
All applicants will be notified by email on Wednesday 13th February 2013 if they were unsuccessful in this call or will be invited to present a short investment pitch to the panel (Assessment Part 2).

Assessment Part 2

The 30 highest ranking applications will be invited to present a short investment pitch to the evaluation panel comprising external industry experts and representatives of Enterprise Ireland at the offices of Enterprise Ireland in East Point Business Park, Dublin 3.  The date of this pitch is Monday 25th February 2013.
The evaluation panel will be asked to score the applicant’s performance based on the following equally weighted criteria:
  • What specific need does your product / service address? Why would someone be "compelled" to purchase your offering? 
  • What is it about you and / or your management team that makes you capable of executing on this business plan?
  • What would be the impact of €50K on the execution of this business plan?
Please note: Enterprise Ireland reserves the right to seek additional clarification from the applicant in regard to your application. 

Closing Date for Applications

The next call for applications to the Competitive Start Fund will open on Wednesday 9th January 2013 and will close on Wednesday 23rd January 2013. Late applications will not be accepted. All applications to the fund must be made via the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System.

Key contact/more information

For more information on the Competitive Start fund, read the CSF Reference Document
Tel: + 353 1 727 2202 (9am - 5pm)
If you are not a client of Enterprise Ireland and want to learn more about qualifying and applying for Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up supports, go to our Start a Business Section.