Enterprise Ireland’s €500,000 agricultural fund opens for applications

Enterprise Ireland’s €500,000 Competitive Start Fund (CSF) to support start-up activity in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors has been open for entries since September 21.

The fund provides €50,000 in equity funding for each successful applicant and will close at 3pm Wednesday, October 5, 2016.

Now in its second year, the purpose of the Competitive Start Fund is to stimulate growth for start-up companies working in areas of agriculture and manufacturing that have the capability to succeed in global markets.

One of last year’s winners Emer Ni Chuanigh is the Managing Director of Hydrasure who is a provider of drinker solutions for the equine industry.

Ni Chuanigh noticed a need in the market that was not being filled and started working on a drinker which measures how much water horse’s drink, then records that information, and finally sends alerts through to an internet connection to your device.

On looking to set up your business, Ni Chuanigh stresses the point that it’s unwise to think it’s going to be plain sailing for any entrepreneur and outlined below some of the challenges she has faced.

“To get my first prototypes developed in the initial stages, I had to prove the worth of my idea many times for funding applications, and I got a number of knock-backs.

“This can be discouraging when you’re putting your own money into something and taking financial risks with no guarantee of return.”

She will be the first to say that funding is the lifeblood for any start up and here are five tips Ni Chuanigh suggests for being a successful applicant to this year’s CSF.

1. The application form

This might sound like an obvious one, but take the time to answer the questions fully. It is vital to stay on point and only answer the questions you’re being asking.

2. Do your market research

Consider who your competitors are, is there a need for your product, who are your target audience and what are your business’ strengths and weakness?

3. Timeline and Deadlines

Begin your application as quickly as possible, this year Agri or manufacturing sectors opened on Wednesday September 21 and will close at 15:00 on Wednesday, October 5 2016. This gives all candidates two weeks preparation.

4. Get professional help

Don’t be afraid to have someone assist you in the areas of the application where you have little experience.

There are many enterprise support bodies such as New Frontiers and Enterprise Ireland who helped Emer Ni Chuanigh through the process.

Try to get onto the Enterprise Ireland Mentor scheme as they well aid you and even review your draft for your application.

5. Perfect you online pitch

Just like you may have seen on Dragon’s Den a poor pitch can cost you an opportunity. Remember this is an online video pitch, similar to a Skype call.

A lot of people can find this awkward and unnatural; Ni Chuanigh recommends filming yourself to rehearse and then watch it back to see if there are things you can change.

Also, check the internet connection for the computer you will be using as pausing of your connection during the interview can be extremely unnerving.

To find out more about Enterprise Ireland’s €500,000 Competitive Start Fund please click here.