EI start-ups find limited appetite for co-investment

Enterprise Ireland has made €90m in fresh capital available to boost funding

Leo Clancy, CEO of Enterprise Ireland

Jon Ihle and Caoimhe Gordon

IRISH startups are finding it harder to raise growth funding due to a pullback on capital markets amid rising rates and economic uncertainty, according to the CEO of Enterprise Ireland.

Leo Clancy said Enterprise Ireland has a strong pipeline of dozens of early-stage, high-performance companies that it is willing to finance this year, but declining risk appetite among venture capital funds has made it difficult to find partners.

It means that some companies can’t unlock available money from the State agency because it requires a matching equity commitment from a private source.

“We tend to go in on the basis of a match and companies are finding that it's harder to source and match funding for us,” Mr Clancy told the Irish Independent.

“It's going pretty well, but I think the caution is we're probably seeing the pipeline being as strong as it has been, and probably more potential as we explore new ways to tap it. It's the matching money that's the key concern.”

He said Enterprise Ireland has made €90m in fresh capital available, alongside commitments from the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (Isif) and the European Investment Funds, to partner with venture capital and private equity operating in Ireland in a bid to encourage more investment.

Exports from Irish companies supported by Enterprise Ireland (EI) rose by 12pc to a record €27.29bn last year.

This marked the highest ever level of growth recorded by the state agency, which helps Irish companies to grow and expand in international markets.

Exports from EI backed companies increased across all territories across the world.

Exports to the UK rose 15pc from 2020 despite ongoing uncertainty following Brexit. The UK now accounts for almost one-third of export trade reported by EI, with exports totalling €8.43bn last year.

The eurozone accounted for over one-fifth of export trade from EI supported companies in 2021, with exports to the region now standing at €6.04bn.

Exports to North America also grew by a total of 14pc last year to €4.87bn This market now accounts for 18pc of exports.

“While the UK remains our largest trading partner it is good to see that our strategy to grow exports in other key markets, especially the eurozone, continues to pay dividends,” said Mr  Clancy.

Food exports rose by 6pc to €12.91bn, accounting for 47pc of total exports – the largest sector. Construction firms had the biggest jump, rising by a quarter to €2.89bn. ​​​​

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