Funding into Irish technology firms fell by 25% to €739m in 2018 according to the Irish Venture Capital Association VenturePulse survey published today in association with William Fry.

The fourth quarter of 2018 showed a decline in funding of 35% to €115m, continuing the trend of previous quarters.

“However, the fourth quarter did contain some hopeful green shoots with regard to seed funding,” commented Alex Hobbs, chairman, IVCA. “Seed funding rebounded strongly in the final quarter achieving its highest quarterly total of nearly €20m across 50 companies. But this has not compensated for a decline overall which is a concern at a time of international uncertainty when we should be investing in indigenous tech companies.”

He said that the underlying figures were even more worrying. “If you strip out the two investments in 2018 and the one in 2017 of more than €100m then the decline year on year was 40%.”

The average deal size in 2018 fell from €3.5m to €3.2m driven by a decline in larger investments of more than €10m. These were down 30% on 2017 levels with companies in this category raising €432m in 2018 compared to €610m in 2017. Only 12 companies raised more than €10m in 2018.

“While the rebound in seed is encouraging, we need to ensure there is sufficient access to later stage capital for those companies in the future as they look to scale and create more jobs,” commented Sarah-Jane Larkin, director general, IVCA.

She added that the importance of a vibrant Irish VC industry with global, especially US and UK, relationships is once again emphasised by continued strong support from international players.

“The Irish venture capital community continues to be the main source of funding for Irish innovative SMEs both through direct investment and as the local lead investor for international syndicate investors who accounted for 50% of the funding raised by Irish SMEs in 2018.”

She pointed out that since the onset of the credit crunch in 2008, in excess of 1,550 Irish SMEs have raised venture capital of €5.5bn. These funds were raised almost exclusively by Irish VC fund managers who during this period supported the creation of up to 20,000 jobs; attracted over €2bn of capital into Ireland and geared up the State’s investment through the Seed & Venture Capital Programme by almost 16 times.

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