Business Startup Grants, Funds, and Support in Ireland

Whether you’re currently employed, unemployed, or considering starting a business from outside Ireland, this blog will cover essential topics such as financial support options, start-up business grants, government grants, rural business start-up grants, social welfare schemes, etc.

Being a business owner, your prime focus will be certainly on quality funding options that can help you to grow your business. The same thing is applicable for starters also. Whether you’re aiming for international growth or focusing on the domestic market, there are resources available to help you with different business start-up grants and business support options in Ireland. If you are so worried about your initial funding, then you might have a solution here. 

List of 10 startup and small business grants in Ireland

#1: Local Enterprise Office (LEO), Enterprise Ireland (Government startup support)
#2: Startup Refunds for Entrepreneurs (SURE)
#3: Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) (Government support for starting a business in Ireland)
#4: Short-Term Enterprise Allowance (STEA) (Government support for starting a business in Ireland)
#5: Start-up business grants for women in Ireland
#6: Private support for startups in Ireland
#7: Startup Entrepreneur Programme (STEP)
#8: Finance from banks
#9: Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN)
#10: Startup Boost

This article will give you a detailed idea about all the major grants, funds, and other support that you will receive in the country if you are about to start a business in Ireland.

#1: Local Enterprise Office

In Ireland, each county boasts its own Local Enterprise Office (LEO), serving as a pivotal resource hub for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, a startup enthusiast, or a seasoned promoter looking to establish or expand your business, reaching out to your nearest LEO is your best course of action for gaining financial assistance for starting or nurturing a business in Ireland. These offices are dedicated to providing comprehensive advice, data, information, and support tailored to the unique needs of businesses in Ireland.

LEOs offer a diverse range of financial supports specifically crafted to facilitate the establishment and growth of enterprises across various sectors. These supports cater to businesses with up to ten employees, with some provisions extending eligibility to businesses with more than ten employees under certain circumstances. From feasibility study grants to priming grants, business expansion grants, and technical assistance for micro exporters, LEOs provide a holistic suite of financial assistance aimed at fostering business development and innovation. Moreover, specialized supports such as research, development, and innovation funding, Brexit assistance, microfinance loans, and energy efficiency grants are available to empower businesses at every stage of their journey.

By availing themselves of these financial supports, entrepreneurs can access the necessary resources to navigate the intricacies of starting and growing a business in Ireland. Whether you’re exploring market feasibility, expanding your operations, or seeking to enhance your digital presence through the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, LEOs stand ready to empower entrepreneurs with the tools and funding needed to turn their business visions into reality.

To find your nearest LEO, click here.

#2: Startup Refunds for Entrepreneurs (SURE)

In Ireland, budding entrepreneurs have access to a valuable resource known as Start-Up Relief for Entrepreneurs (SURE), one of the top 10 Irish government grants for new businesses designed to provide financial support for the growth of newly established businesses. SURE offers a unique opportunity for individuals to reclaim income tax payments, catering specifically to employees, the unemployed, and those recently made redundant who are embarking on their entrepreneurial journey. This tax relief initiative allows eligible applicants to recoup Income Tax paid in preceding years, offering a much-needed financial boost during the critical early stages of business development.

To qualify for SURE, certain criteria must be met. Entrepreneurs must establish a new company engaged in a qualifying trading activity, demonstrating a commitment to generating sustainable business growth. Additionally, applicants must have predominantly received Pay As You Earn (PAYE) income in the four years preceding their venture. Upon establishment of the new company, individuals are required to assume full-time employment as either a director or employee, further solidifying their dedication to the success of their enterprise. Furthermore, SURE mandates that applicants invest cash into the new company through the purchase of new shares, with a commitment to retain ownership for a minimum of four years.

While SURE presents an enticing opportunity for entrepreneurs seeking financial support, it is crucial to adhere to the specific conditions outlined by the program. Both the individual entrepreneur and the newly established company must meet stringent requirements to qualify for this invaluable relief, ensuring that funds are allocated to ventures poised for genuine growth and innovation in the dynamic landscape of Irish entrepreneurship.

#3: Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA)

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) funding opportunities for startups in Ireland serves as a catalyst for individuals receiving certain social welfare payments to pursue self-employment opportunities. Under this initiative, participants are empowered to retain a portion of their social welfare payment for a period of up to two years, providing crucial financial support during the initial stages of entrepreneurship. Administered by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) for individuals under 66 years old, BTWEA offers a pathway to economic independence and business ownership.

Additionally, the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance complements BTWEA by extending support to individuals receiving Jobseeker’s Benefit, offering a tailored solution to kickstart their entrepreneurial journey. To qualify for BTWEA, applicants must meet specific criteria, including setting up as self-employed in a new business pre-approved by a DSP Case Officer and a Local Development Company. Furthermore, eligibility hinges on continuous receipt of certain social welfare payments for a minimum of nine months, ensuring that participants demonstrate a genuine commitment to self-employment.

The array of qualifying payments encompasses Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment, Disability Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, and others, underscoring the scheme’s inclusive approach to supporting individuals from diverse backgrounds. Moreover, adherence to stringent rules, such as the underlying entitlement to Jobseeker’s Allowance and a minimum period of receipt of qualifying social welfare payments, ensures that beneficiaries derive maximum benefit from the program. By facilitating access to financial resources and fostering entrepreneurial spirit, BTWEA and its affiliated schemes play a pivotal role in driving economic empowerment and fostering a culture of innovation and self-reliance across Ireland.

#4: Short-Term Enterprise Allowance (STEA)

The Short-Term Enterprise Allowance (STEA) offers vital support to individuals navigating job loss and endeavoring to embark on their entrepreneurial journey in Ireland. Designed to empower those seeking to establish their own businesses, STEA provides a crucial financial lifeline to recipients of Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB) or Jobseeker’s Benefit Self-Employed (JBSE). Unlike some schemes, STEA doesn’t require a specific qualifying period, offering immediate assistance to eligible applicants eager to transition into self-employment.

Participants of STEA receive financial support in lieu of their JB or JBSE for a maximum period of nine months, aligning with the duration of their entitlement to these benefits. However, individuals concurrently receiving JB or JBSE while engaged in part-time work are ineligible for STEA. Adherence to prescribed rules is imperative, necessitating the approval of a business plan by a Case Officer stationed at an Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office prior to commencing self-employment activities.

It’s important to note that STEA does not accommodate seasonal, temporary, or part-time self-employment endeavors. Recipients are required to promptly notify the Department of Social Protection (DSP) in the event of cessation of self-employment or transition into traditional employment. Moreover, individuals whose entitlement to STEA concludes are not automatically eligible to re-qualify for JB or JBSE; however, they may explore alternative options such as applying for Jobseeker’s Allowance, which is subject to means-testing criteria. By facilitating a smooth transition into self-employment and offering essential financial support, STEA plays a pivotal role in fostering entrepreneurship and economic resilience in Ireland.

#5: Start-up business grants for women in Ireland

In fostering Ireland’s economic prosperity, different organizations recognize the indispensable role of a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem and this ethos extends to the support and empowerment of women entrepreneurs, who contribute significantly to innovation and economic growth. Female entrepreneurs in Ireland have several robust support options to help them navigate and thrive in the business world. The Women-Founded High Potential Start-Ups (HPSU) initiative stands as a testament to this commitment, offering the same opportunities and requirements as other HPSUs. Spearheaded by the Enterprise Ireland Female Entrepreneurship Unit, this initiative is dedicated to providing tailored support and resources to women entrepreneurs to scale-up the involvement of women in business in Ireland.

For those seeking further guidance on HPSUs or aspiring to become Enterprise Ireland clients, the Startup Enquiries Team at Enterprise Ireland is readily available to offer invaluable advice and assistance for women business owners. Moreover, recognizing the importance of capability development, Enterprise Ireland champions various programs aimed at empowering women entrepreneurs and providing financial support for women start-up businesses. These initiatives, such as Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs and Going for Growth, are designed to equip ambitious female entrepreneurs with the tools, knowledge, and networks needed to scale their businesses and tap into international markets. By fostering a culture of inclusion and support, these programs contribute to the advancement and success of women-led ventures in Ireland’s entrepreneurial landscape.

Let’s also look into some other alternative support options for female entrepreneurs in Ireland.

  1. Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund
  2. Local Enterprise Office’s Women in Business Network
  3. ACORNS – Accelerating the Creation of Rural Nascent Start-ups
  4. WeGate – European Gateway for Women’s Entrepreneurship
  5. DCU Ryan Academy’s Female High Fliers Programme

Female entrepreneurs in Ireland have access to several robust support programs to help them succeed. Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund offers up to €50,000 for start-ups, focusing on those with a Minimal Viable Product and a clear business plan. The Local Enterprise Office’s Women in Business Network provides a platform for female entrepreneurs to connect, share ideas, and gain inspiration. For rural-based businesses, the ACORNS program offers tailored support.

On a broader scale, WeGate, an initiative by the European Commission, provides extensive resources and a network for women aiming to expand across Europe. Additionally, the DCU Ryan Academy’s Female High Fliers Programme is a 13-week course offering workshops, mentorship, and networking opportunities for high-potential female-led businesses. These programs collectively empower women entrepreneurs with the resources and networks needed to thrive.

These resources collectively provide invaluable support, guidance, and opportunities for female entrepreneurs in Ireland, empowering them to achieve business success and growth.

#6: Private support for startups in Ireland

In the realm of business startup support in Ireland, private sector funding serves as a vital avenue for budding entrepreneurs to access resources and guidance tailored to their specific needs. Notably, entities like NDRC (National Digital Research Centre) and Business Innovation Centres (BICs) play instrumental roles in nurturing and fostering the growth of startups. NDRC, facilitated by Dogpatch Labs, specializes in early-stage investments in tech companies, targeting ventures with a profound understanding of technology and a scalable global product or service offering. The typical profile of companies seeking support from NDRC includes those poised to become investor-ready or generate revenue within a short timeframe, boasting strong commercial and technical teams.

On the other hand, BICs, represented by Cork BIC, West BIC, and South East BIC, provide multifaceted assistance to entrepreneurs navigating the complexities of business startup and expansion. From investor readiness preparation to facilitating access to finance and offering incubation spaces, BICs offer a comprehensive suite of services tailored to the needs of startups at various stages of development. Moreover, these organizations foster community and collaboration through networking events, connecting entrepreneurs with industry experts and potential investors crucial for business growth. Additionally, publicly funded initiatives like Furthr, formerly known as Dublin BIC, extend consultancy services at no charge, with a focus on supporting businesses aiming to create jobs, expand into international markets, and secure funding. By leveraging private sector support networks, aspiring entrepreneurs in Ireland gain access to invaluable resources and expertise essential for navigating the competitive landscape of business startup and growth.

#7: Startup Entrepreneur Programme (STEP)

The Startup Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) offers a valuable pathway for non-EEA nationals seeking to establish innovative businesses in Ireland. Tailored to entrepreneurs with inventive business proposals and a minimum funding of €50,000, STEP facilitates the process of setting up a business and obtaining residency in Ireland on a full-time basis. As part of the application process, interested individuals can apply online, with an application fee of €350.

Introduced by the Irish Government in 2012, STEP underscores Ireland’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. To be eligible for the programme, applicants must demonstrate good character, absence of criminal convictions, and possess the requisite €50,000 funding alongside an innovative business proposal. Notably, applications for STEP can be submitted electronically at any time, with proposals evaluated quarterly by an expert committee. This streamlined approach ensures efficient processing while providing entrepreneurs with the necessary support and resources to realize their business ambitions in Ireland.

#8: Finance from banks

While starting a new business in Ireland, always discuss your financial aspects with your accountant. Experienced accountants in Ireland will help you in drafting a professional project report that will help you to talk to your bank about various funding options. Ireland banks offer a variety of funding plans for different businesses after analyzing the scope and profitability of your business.

#9: Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN)

HBAN, or the Halo Business Angel Network, is dedicated to cultivating a robust angel investment ecosystem throughout Ireland that supports and funding for Irish entrepreneurs. As advocates for angel investors, HBAN not only provides invaluable support to entrepreneurs but also offers data-driven policy recommendations to the government, advocating for inclusivity and diversity within the angel investment community. Central to their mission is the provision of angel education, equipping both investors and entrepreneurs with the knowledge and resources needed to thrive in the dynamic world of startup funding.

Entrepreneurs looking to tap into HBAN’s network can begin by registering with the network, initiating an initial call to discuss their business proposition. If deemed promising, entrepreneurs are guided through the preparation phase, receiving assistance in crafting compelling teaser documents and investor presentations. This preparation sets the stage for entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas at HBAN’s investor group meetings, where they gain exposure to potential investors. Additionally, entrepreneurs may benefit from profiling on the HBAN website and gaining access to the network’s investment community. HBAN facilitates connections between entrepreneurs and angel investors, helping to arrange follow-up meetings and further opportunities for collaboration and investment. Through these strategic partnerships and support systems, HBAN plays a pivotal role in driving innovation and fostering entrepreneurship across Ireland.

Click here to know more.

#10: Startup Boost

A global tech startup pre-accelerator located in Dublin, London, Toronto, Detroit, New York, Pittsburgh and L.A is a startup organization that offers a six-week part-time programme for infant entrepreneurs to prepare them for different accelerator programs, seed investment and revenue.

Via this you will get quality mentoring, new connections with high end entrepreneurs and other industry experts.

Click here to know more.

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