Enterprise Ireland’s €1 million Competitive Start Fund (CSF) for Female Entrepreneurs will open for applications on Tuesday, May 1. Up to €50,000 in equity funding is available to a maximum of 20 successful female applicants with early stage start-up companies. Last year, 46 per cent of all companies who received CSF investment from Enterprise Ireland were female-led.
In addition to securing vital funding, 15 of the successful applicants will be offered a place on the INNOVATE accelerator programme, delivered by Dublin BIC. Taking place over a 12-week period in the Guinness Enterprise Centre, the interactive INNOVATE programme will increase the capabilities of the participants and move them to investor-ready within a short period.
The purpose of a CSF for female entrepreneurs is to accelerate the growth of female-led start-up companies that have the potential to employ more than 10 people and achieve €1 million in export sales within three years.
Introduced in 2012 as part of Enterprise Ireland’s female entrepreneurship strategy, the dedicated fund is designed to enable companies reach key commercial and technical milestones which will ensure delivery of their product or service to an international audience. Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund is funded by the Government of Ireland through the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.
Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, said: “There is no doubt that tailored and targeted initiatives have had a positive impact on the numbers of female-led, scalable start-ups seeking support from the Government through our State Agency, Enterprise Ireland. I am delighted that last year, almost half of start-ups that received Competitive Start Fund investments were companies led by women. We want to build on this and ensure that more female entrepreneurs from all different industry sectors are encouraged to apply this year.”
Working with ambitious start-ups led by women is a key focus for Enterprise Ireland and the purpose of the CSF is to accelerate the growth of start-up companies that have the capability to become High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) companies.
Rachael James, Female Entrepreneurship Manager, Enterprise Ireland added: “We made a commitment in 2012 to female entrepreneurs in this country to increase supports dedicated to them, and we did this in direct response to the low number of female-led start-ups receiving investments and supports. Six years later the breakdown is encouraging. More than one in three start-ups supported by Enterprise Ireland last year through the High Potential Start-Up programme and CSFs were led by women, compared to just one in ten start-ups in 2012. However, we need to keep this momentum so that we see more women confidently starting new businesses and successfully scaling existing ones.”
Conor Carmody, Dublin BIC Investor Ready Programme Manager said: “Dublin BIC supports entrepreneurs to start and scale though a number of channels and programmes including delivery of the Innovate Programme, the Enterprise Ireland accelerator designed to meet the needs of female-led start-ups with the ambition to scale internationally and to become ‘investor ready’, a crucial step in becoming a High Potential Start-Up company.”
Full details on the Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs, including the application form and eligibility criteria, can be accessed on the Enterprise Ireland website.
The Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs will close for submissions at 3 p.m on Tuesday May 15.