229 small companies share €32m in Enterprise Ireland subsidies

Mark Bennett and Wawrzyniec Wawro, co-founders of BikeLook, one of the companies that Enterprise Ireland invested in

Mark Bennett and Wawrzyniec Wawro, co-founders of BikeLook, one of the companies that Enterprise Ireland invested in

More than 220 startup companies received an average of €140,000 each in Enterprise Ireland subsidies last year, new figures show.

In all, the State agency invested €32m in 229 small young companies adjudged to have growth potential.

Half of the companies were Dublin-based, while 28pc were female-led.

Of those startups, 128 received money under 'Competitive Startup Fund' (CSF) rules which say Enterprise Ireland can take up to 10pc equity in the company for a cash subsidy of up to €50,000. This amounted to €6.8m in state subsidies.

The other 101 companies, 'High Potential Startups' (HPSUs), received an average of €220,000 each last year, totalling €22.2m.

A further €2.8m was invested in established startups, according to a spokeswoman for the organisation.

According to its last set of accounts, Enterprise Ireland holds 2,236 equity investments in 1,224 companies. In 2015, this portfolio returned around €29m from share sales, share redemptions and dividends.

The state agency says that its activity contributed to over 19,000 new jobs last year and over 9,000 new jobs after jobs lost are taken into account. It also says that companies financially assisted by Enterprise Ireland now employ over 200,000 people. The largest return made by Enterprise Ireland on a single company investment was €1.25m on the agency's €25,000 equity stake in Dublin-based startup Logentries.

The firm was acquired in 2015 for $68m (€63.9m) by US tech firm Rapid7.

Under Enterprise Ireland rules, companies are allowed to receive up to €200,000 from other State-subsidised sources in addition to the money they get from Enterprise Ireland.

"A key focus for Enterprise Ireland over the past number of years has been on targeting under-represented sources of start-ups," said Julie Sinnamon, chief executive of Enterprise Ireland.

"In total we approved 63 investments in female-led start-ups, or 28pc. [This is] a great result considering only 8pc of HPSUs were female led in 2012."

Seventeen of the companies funded by Enterprise Ireland came from overseas, using Ireland as their base to build export-oriented firms.

Fifteen of the subsidised companies are spinout startups from third-level research, while 17 are startups specialising in startup technology.

"Of the total number of startups supported during 2016, we were particularly pleased to see that over half were in regions outside of Dublin," said Ms Sinnamon.

"The development of companies of scale throughout the country is a key priority."

Irish Independent

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