Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of initial meetings Enterprise Ireland has held with potential start-ups in Waterford city and county in each of the past five years; and the number of successful launches resulting from these contacts.
REPLY (Minister Richard Bruton):
There are almost 4,600 people employed in Enterprise Ireland (EI) client companies based in Waterford City and County according to the Forfas Employment Survey 2013 (an increase of 3.1% over 2012).
Between 2009 and 2014 (to date) EI approved around €24 million to support projects in Waterford based client companies. Over the same period, EI approved over €3.6 million to start-up companies including Innovative High Potential Start Up (HPSU) packages to 8 companies totalling €3.38 million.
EI engages with potential start-ups in a myriad of ways but always in conjunction with the following three key local stakeholders who are involved in the start-up space:
Waterford LEO: EI is a member of the Waterford Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Evaluation Committee. EI has visibility on all projects including those with the capability to scale and internationalise and which can be progressed quickly to Enterprise Ireland.
South East BIC: EI funds the four Business Innovation Centres (BICs) around the country including the South East Business Innovation Centre (SEBIC). EI is represented on the board of SEBIC. A core activity of the BICs is working one to one with start-ups seeking equity funding from the private sector. EI also funds Business Angel investor activity in all regions through the BICs.
Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) is an initiative of my Department and a component of the Action Plan for Jobs. The competition was conducted by all 31 LEO’s around the country and attracted over 1,100 entries between the ages of 18-30 in 3 different categories – Best New Idea, Best Start-Up and Best Established Business. IBYE has a €2million prize fund - €25,000 investment for 31 county level winners.
This was reduced to 24 national level finalists competing for an extra €50,000 investment for 1 national winner who was crowned “Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur” on 7th December 2014. The IBYE competition within Waterford received a very healthy 47 entries, which reflects a significant entrepreneurial base within the County.
Following an initial assessment, most of the applicants were invited to take part in a County Bootcamp, where they received advice and mentoring on all aspects of starting and growing a business, as well as the opportunity to share ideas and experience with their peers.
The winners in the three categories received further Bootcamp training and guidance as they went forward to compete in the Regional Final of the competition against entrants from the LEOs in County Cork. The winner of the County Waterford Best Start-up category also won the Regional Final and competed against 7 other finalists in that category at the National Finals.
WIT New Frontiers Programme: EI runs the national New Frontiers Programme throughout the country in conjunction with the 14 Institutes of Technology. This is undertaken locally by Waterford Institute of Technology on EI’s behalf. As an EI Programme, EI liaises very closely with the local Programme Manager.
The programme is run in two phases. Phase 1 is the initial Programme and is run over a number of weeks. The second Phase runs for six months to allow entrepreneurs to work full time on their project to develop it to investor ready stage. Participants are chosen following detailed “pitch”/interview sessions which are always chaired by Enterprise Ireland.
Once selected, the entrepreneurs are incubated in ArcLabs over the six month period and provided with a stipend of €15,000. Between 2012 and 2014, 80 entrepreneurs participated in Phase 1 and EI presented to each on supports available. Almost 50 were called to the detailed pitch session over the same period. 27 participated on the six month programme and were provided with €15,000 each.
Enterprise Ireland launched a €200,000 South East Competitive Feasibility Fund on December 16th 2014 aimed at finding the next generation of innovation led start-ups. This is exclusively aimed at Start-ups in the South East.
The call will close on January 20th 2015. A competitive process will ensue. Companies approved will also be supported by assigned Mentors and a ‘Raising Investment Capital’ seminar. Entrepreneurs not supported under the call will be referred to the most relevant local support available whether LEO, SEBIC or WIT once the financial and capability supports required to progress the project are assessed.