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Tanaiste anounces €48 million inviested in start-ups by Enterprise Ireland in 2020

Tuesday, 23 February 2021: Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD has announced that Enterprise Ireland, the government agency responsible for the development and growth of Irish companies in global markets, invested more than €48 million in Irish start-ups in 2020 and supported a total of 125 new start-up companies.

Investment was provided through Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) and Competitive Start Fund (CSF) programmes.

Enterprise Ireland more than doubles its investment in start-up companies to €48 million in 2020

125 new start-ups supported in 2020

50% of new start-ups located outside of Dublin

While the total number of start-ups supported last year almost matched 2019 figures (127 in 2019), the 2020 levels of investment in innovative High Potential Start-Ups was boosted by the Covid-19 Sustaining Enterprise Fund and an increase in follow-on investments to help HPSUs scale internationally.

The investment of more than €48 million is the highest level of funding that Enterprise Ireland has awarded to early stage companies.

Key sectors that Enterprise Ireland invested in in 2020 included fintech, cybersecurity, digital health and agri-tech, with half of the start-ups based outside Dublin. In addition, 38 women-led start-up companies were funded – a key focus of Enterprise Ireland’s Women in Business Action Plan.

Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment said: “I have nothing but admiration for the many entrepreneurs across the country who have been brave enough to start up new businesses during the pandemic. It’s been an incredibly difficult year. I have seen countless examples all across the country of business owners overcoming adversity and demonstrating the kind of ingenuity, adaptability and resilience that entrepreneurs are known for.

“The Government invested more than €48 million directly into start-up companies last year. This allowed us to support 125 new businesses, all of which are aimed at the global market. Congratulations to the teams behind each one of them. You are the job creators of the future and you will all have a really important part to play in Ireland’s recovery. The Government will continue to help those starting up on their own, with funding, training and networking opportunities.”

Kevin Sherry, Executive Director, Enterprise Ireland commented: “A strong start-up economy is absolutely vital to the future of Ireland and scaling and growing the export and start-up base is one of Enterprise Ireland’s strategic prioities. In what has been an incredibly challenging time for all businesses, it is really important to recognise 125 of Ireland’s most exciting new start-up companies with ambitious growth plans. Start-ups are a powerful driver of economic growth, new talent and innovation.

“Now, more than ever, we need to be innovative and carve out more niches in international markets where business can thrive. Despite the impact of Covid-19, 2020 was another successful year for Irish start-ups, with growth noted in the life sciences and ICT sectors. We are also seeing new opportunities for ambitious entrepreneurs and start-ups in the green economy as well as doing business in a post-pandemic environment.”

Start-ups supported by Enterprise Ireland in 2020 include:

80 High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) investments – start-up businesses with the potential to create 10 jobs and €1 million in sales within three to four years of starting up.
45 Competitive Start Fund (CSF) investments, which inject critical early-stage funding into new businesses.
50% of the new start-ups are located outside of Dublin.
38 women-led start-up companies were approved investment.
12 HPSUs were successfully commercialised in partnership with 3rd level research institutions.
44 additional HPSUs received follow-on investment funding as their businesses scaled.

Jenny Melia, Divisonal Manager, High Potential Start-Ups, Enterprise Ireland added: “In Enterprise Ireland, we have always been committed to helping founders to start and grow their businesses internationally and in 2020, we also focused on supporting these businesses as they navigated their way through the pandemic.

“For the second year running, 38 of the businesses supported were founded by women. Since 2011, the percentage of HPSUs founded by women has grown from 7% to almost 24% in 2020, marking the continuation of this trend, which underpins the Enterprise Ireland Action Plan for Women in Business.

“The Action Plan, which was launched last year, aims to increase the participation of women in entrepreneurship and business leadership. The class of 2020 are great role models for new founders and we look forward to working closely with them to help fulfil their potential and to create strong and sustainable export businesses.”

The Enterprise Ireland Start-Up Showcase will be broadcast virtually on Wednesday 24th February with one-to-one virtual investor meetings scheduled to take place following the event.

The virtual event will feature a keynote address from Des Traynor, CSO, Intercom and panel discussions featuring Nicky Deasy, Managing Partner, Yield Lab; Brian Shields, CEO, Neurent Medical; James Ives, CEO, XOCEAN; Helen McBreen, Investment Director, Atlantic Bridge; Conor O’Loughlin, CEO, Glofox and Alan Coleman, CEO, Sweepr.

Register for Start-Up Showcase 2021 and find more information here:


Tánaiste launches Enterprise Ireland’s €1m Competitive Start Fund

On Wednesday, 10th February 2021: Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, has invited entrepreneurs to apply for Enterprise Ireland’s €1m Competitive Start Fund (CSF) which is now open for applications from ambitious founders of early stage start-ups.

Early-stage companies from all sectors with an eligible innovative product or service set for global markets are encouraged to enter the competition. Successful projects can secure up to €50,000 in equity funding.

Applications are especially welcome from eligible companies that offer new services or solutions to address the challenges and opportunities relating to Climate Action with an emphasis on decarbonisation.

The fund will close to applications at 3pm on Tuesday, 2nd March 2021.

The CSF aims to increase the number of diverse High Potential Start-Ups (HPSUs) that have global potential and the ambition to succeed internationally. The fund is designed to help start-ups achieve key commercial and technical milestones which includes evaluating overseas market opportunities, building prototypes, developing market entry plans and securing third party investment.

Commenting on the announcement, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD said: “A funding boost at the very early stages of starting up a business is always really welcome. Up to €50,000 is available for successful projects under this Fund, giving those companies an important kick-start. These are the employers of the future. The Government is committed to nurturing entrepreneurs at every stage of their business development, whether that’s through investments, like this one, or networking and mentoring opportunities.”

Manager of Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up Division, Jenny Melia added: “Enterprise Ireland’s ongoing work with start-ups and entrepreneurs is always exciting and offers a sneak preview of what’s possible for the future. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and post-Brexit, Irish entrepreneurs have continued to be inspired and continue to progress plans to take advantage of potential opportunities to develop an export-led business. Through funding and expert advice, the Competitive Start Fund is designed to help them turn those innovative ideas into profitable companies with global market potential.

“We’re looking for innovative solutions and development plans from entrepreneurs across multiple sectors in manufacturing and internationally traded services. We’re very interested in projects that will drive the digital and green economy where market opportunities continue to emerge and grow.

“If you are an ambitious entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team at the start of your journey developing an eligible product or service, the Competitive Start Fund can really help you to take your business to the next level and I would strongly encourage you to apply.”

Previous CSF winner, Deirdre Lyons, is the Founder and CEO of Examfly which develops online learning tools for professional exams incorporating proven techniques from EdTech and Education Psychology. “Ideas on their own only have a limited value; you need the business apparatus to wrap around the idea, and that requires focus, time and help,” she said.

“Support through Enterprise Ireland’s CSF was a real turning point for the company as it allowed us to refine the product and gave us the time to research and develop the market. Within six to eight months we had a major client signed up and will be launching our platform with a second client this month.”

A number of CSF application-support workshops will be held online by the National BICs over the coming weeks. Details of these workshops as well as the Competitive Start Fund application form and eligibility criteria, can be accessed on the Enterprise Ireland website here

Press Office Enterprise Ireland

Minister Harris announces €193 million investment in five world- leading SFI Research Centres

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD today announced an investment of €193 million in five Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres for six years.

The five centres will carry out research into smart medical devices, e-health, telecommunications networks, cybersecurity, smart cities, artificial intelligence, ethics and data privacy, as well as applied geosciences, energy security and marine resources.

For further information on the article from SFI  please click here.

The investment announcement can be viewed via youtube here:

European Digital Innovation Hubs – Call for Expressions of Interest

Enterprise Ireland has announced a call for expressions of interest to complete a national designation process to identify up to three research performing organisations (RTOs) or Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) or other consortia. The successful applicants will then be invited to apply to a restricted call that the European Commission will issue.

Successful applicants of this second stage process will then be jointly funded by the European Commission and Enterprise Ireland to establish their European Digital Innovation Hubs. While agreement has not yet been reached on the final budget, the Commission currently foresees funding in the form of a grant for a duration of 3 years with the possibility of reapplying at the end of the grant duration for an additional period of 4 years.

The Commission proposes to invest between €0.5 million and €1 million per year in each hub. The Department of Business, Enterprise, Trade and Employment through Enterprise Ireland will then match the Commission’s funding. The amount of grant funding will be contingent on the final agreed Commission budget for the programme.

European Digital Innovation Hubs will support businesses and organisations in their digital transformation and to disseminate the latest advances in cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and High-Performance Computing (HPC).

The EDIHs will be one-stop-shops, with a research and technology organisation (RTO) or higher education institution (HEI) based lab at its core, that help companies (notably SMEs) and public sector organisations become more competitive in their business/production processes, products or services by providing access to research infrastructure, technical expertise and experimentation, so that these organisations can “test before invest”.


Expressions of Interest

Information for the competitive process for National Designation of European Digital Innovation Hubs is available here (pdf).

It is critical that applicants pay very close attention to the information and evaluation criteria outlined – see Useful Links below.

It is important to note that given the importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its wide application in all sectors, the Commission expects at least one hub selected from each country will specialise in AI.


Q&A Forum

Enterprise Ireland will hold an online Open Q&A Forum at 9am on 17th December, 2020.

If you wish to participate, please email


Launch Date

The competitive ‘Call for Expression of Interest’ will be launched and will close at 4pm Irish time on Wednesday 20th January 2021.

Only expressions of interest received before or at this time will be considered.

All expressions of interest should be submitted to

Ulysses travel grants – call now open – closing date 4th Feburary


The aim of the Ulysses scheme is to foster new collaborations between Ireland and France-based researchers by providing seed funding for reciprocal travel visits over the course of one year. The longer-term goal is to establish lasting professional networks of researchers and institutions. The scheme provides seed funding to begin the collaboration. Successful applicants are encouraged to develop their collaboration post-Ulysses by seeking large-scale funding from other sources e.g. Horizon Europe. The scheme thus facilitates the exchange of innovative ideas and approaches between Ireland and France-based researchers across all disciplines.

The Health Research Board (HRB) is partnering with the Irish Research Council’s (IRC) Ulysses travel grant to fund a number of research visits to France in three areas:
– Patient-oriented and clinical research.
– Population health research
– Health services research.

The Irish Research Council and the Embassy of France in Ireland are committed to supporting continued knowledge exchange between Irish and French researchers in spite of the COVID-19 crisis through appropriate forms of collaboration.

This year, selected research projects will also be supported by the following strategic partners:

  • Electricity transmission system operator EirGrid will partner with France-based Réseau de Transport d’Électricité to support suitably aligned research projects in the area of renewable energies and smart grids.
  • The Health Research Board will support research projects focusing on patient-oriented and clinical research, population health or health services research.
  • The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and ADEME, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency, will provide support to research projects exploring topics relating to energies.

Support is provided for short visits to partner institutions, and covers travel and subsistence costs.
Awards will be up to a maximum of €2,500 each to Irish- and French-based research partner(s) to cover travel and living expenses*. These awards are simultaneously receivable and must be used by the end of the calendar year, 2022.

*For reasons relating to Covid-19 If one government maintains some form of travel ban: laureates will be allowed to spend 25% of their grant in 2021 on other research expenses to help with the collaboration in place of travel.

An application form and full details
of the scheme can be found on the Irish Research Council website by  clicking here. The closing date to submit applications is 4pm on 4 February 2021.

What we offer

A Ulysses award will involve researcher(s) based in Ireland travelling to France and researcher(s) based in France travelling to Ireland.

Awards will be up to a maximum of €2,500 each to Ireland- and France-based research partner(s) to cover travel and living expenses*. These awards are simultaneously receivable and must be used by end of the calendar year, 2022.

*If for reasons relating to Covid-19 one government maintains some form of travel ban, awardees will be allowed to spend 25% of their grant in 2021 on other research expenses to help with the collaboration in place of travel.

How to apply

One electronic copy of the application form and all related attachments must be submitted via email to by a person authorised by their institution to hold responsibility for research grants.

Queries not addressed in the Terms and Conditions will be answered using a frequently asked questions process. Research offices may send any queries they are unable to clarify to

Key Dates

Activities Dates
Applicant deadline 16:00 (Irish time) 4 February 2021
Expected call outcome June 2021


In Ireland, Ulysses is funded and administered by the Irish Research Council. In France, it is funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and administered by the Embassy of France in Ireland and Campus France, the leading French agency for international mobility.

Webinar Recording and Q&A: 5 steps to take when you’ve received an H2020 grant

Recorded live webinar (60 min) 5 steps to take when you’ve received a Horizon 2020 grant

What steps should you take when you’ve received a Horizon 2020 grant? Watch this recording of our last Expert Session and learn all about the requirements of your Grant Agreement.  Click here

Q&A catalogue

Many of you sent us detailed questions before and during the webinar. We are happy to share with you a Q&A catalogue covering every question that could not be answered during the live event. Click here

11 December, 2020 11:00 (CEST) – 30 min – Join our EMDESK live demo

Discover EMDESK in detail as one of our experts guides you through our Horizon 2020 project management software, and ask your questions. Click here


Horizon Results Platform

Welcome to the Horizon Results Platform! Whether you are a policy-maker, an investor, an entrepreneur, a researcher, an innovation, legal, business development or financing expert, or any interested citizen, this is the place where you can discover the wealth of EU-funded research results and get in contact with their creators!

Can you play a role in making their results matter? Contact them now and find out more about their results, their needs and plans for the future, or form partnerships and invest in them!

The Horizon Results Platform:

•    Is Free – you can promote the Key Exploitable Results* (KER’s) of your projects
•    Is Easy to use – hosted under the Funding & Tenders Portal where you manage everything else for your projects
•    Is a Matchmaking tool – use the wide range of flags and attention-grabbing features to attract your target audiences
•    Is Managed by you – you can publish and update KERs whenever they are available,
•    Reaches out to many audiences – politicians, investors, researchers, scientists, scholars, entrepreneurs, financing experts, IP specialists, and other stakeholders visit regularly
•    Triggers services and opportunities at no cost to you – depending on the nature and needs of your result(s) it allows us to inform you about relevant upcoming calls for proposals, pitching events with investors, possibilities for assistance with your dissemination plans, business development plans, innovation management, IP management, and many more.



2nd ePitching to Procurers of innovation against COVID-19

2nd ePitching to Procurers of innovation against COVID-19 which will take place on the 17th November and will be delivered in partnership with the European Innovation Council (EIC) and the Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI).

Building on the success of the 1st EIC ePitching event ( against COVID-19 which attracted 155 participants, including representatives from more 50 procurement organisations, they aim to reach an even wider audience. With regards to scope, the event will focus on the three pressing needs outlined below and may include further priorities proposed by procurers:

• Medical devices, supply chain and logistics management;
• Biotechnology / health – pharmaceuticals (including antimicrobials), diagnostics and testing, among others;
• Tools for prediction & stopping the spread of new diseases.

We would be grateful if you could promote the event to your respective stakeholders, in particular innovative SMEs as well as public and private procurers from the healthcare sector. Please use the contact details below for any queries regarding the event.

For those interested in taking part please contact Jerome de Barros at the European Commission

CIT Nimbus Centre will lead an €11m EU project ‘DENiM’

Cork Institute of Technology’s Nimbus Centre will lead a new EU funded research project to deliver energy-efficiency in the manufacturing sector, which aims to accelerate the digital transformation of manufacturing processes to enable significant reduction of energy consumption.

Dr Alan McGibney and Dr Susan Rea have been awarded a project valued over €11 million from the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 Technologies for Factories of the Future programme, this is a four year initiative to address the need for energy-efficient manufacturing system management. The DENiM project will provide a novel technological solution to support industry leverage advanced digital technologies to manage resources and processes more effectively and ensure energy efficiency is an integral part of the manufacturing decision processes. “Digital technologies will play a significant role by providing the ability to automatically monitor and optimise energy usage, while also informing users on the environmental and economic impact of decisions made at all stages of the manufacturing process.“ explains project lead Dr. McGibney At the core of the DENiM project is close collaboration with industrial partners who represent the key stakeholders in evaluating the solutions across four complex industrial sectors. These pilots will validate the applicability of key enabling digital technologies as a solution for effective energy management, contributing to best practices that can maximise impact across the EU manufacturing landscape. The project will further demonstrate leadership in both the uptake of digital technologies and sustainable manufacturing that can be replicated across other energy-intensive sectors. “The DENiM project views education, awareness and upskilling as an essential component to allow all workers understand their collective responsibility in addressing energy efficiency” says Dr. Rea, DENiM project co-lead.

In order to achieve significant energy savings DENiM will provide the ability to collect, analyse, and communicate in real-time, data that can be used to optimise the performance and resource consumption at machine, process and factory level. In addition decision support systems will incorporate energy consumption as a key criteria across all levels of decision making within an organisation. DENiM will develop an interoperable digital intelligence platform enabling a holistic approach to industrial energy management. DENiM provides an integrated toolchain to provision advanced digital services including secure edge connectivity leveraging IoT, data analytics, digital twin, energy modelling and automation culminating in the delivery of continuous energy impact assessment, together with energy control and optimisation across existing production facilities, processes, and machines.

The project includes a consortium of 18 partner organizations led by Cork Institute of Technology bringing together a strong team of partners across 8 European countries. The team is incredibly grateful to Enterprise Ireland for their support, particularly through the Coordinator Support grant and their National Contact Points. Dr. Sergio Ceballos, National Contact Point for the Horizon 2020 Manufacturing programme in Enterprise Ireland mentioned “DENiM is the first Irish led Innovation action funded in the Factories of the Future programme and scored 5th across Europe out of 83 proposals submitted. It shows how national investment in manufacturing research leverages success in international projects for the benefit of the Irish and European industry.” The consortium is well-balanced in terms of the involvement of academic, industrial, and SME partners including: DePuy Synthes (Ireland); Sidenor Aceros Especiales (Spain); SCMGroup (Italy); Gorenje (Slovenia); R2M Solutions (Italy); Idener R&D (Spain); MET SNC (Italy); BAG-ERA (France); Gate SPA (Italy); VTT (Finland); University of Sevilla (Spain); SUPSI (Switzerland); Tecnalia (Spain); University College Cork (Ireland); K-Loops SRL (Italy); CIE Galfor SA (Spain).

About Nimbus
The Nimbus Research Centre aims to enhance and support better communities through excellence in research, industry and education. We are driven by a shared purpose in being leaders in our field and continuing to be the best at supplying innovation through research. We strive to provide economic value to industry and sustainable solutions to societal problems. The Nimbus Research Centre is at the forefront of cyber-physical systems (CPS) and Internet of Things (IoT) research, innovation, and learning. We develop technologies that address the real needs of industry, people, and society. Nimbus employ approximately 40 researchers and engineers with extensive national, international and industry R&D experience that deliver mission-oriented research projects. Within Nimbus we focus on making things connected, secure and smart through technology advancement in digital platforms, future networks, smart systems integration cyber-secure systems to create solutions for smart energy, smart buildings, smart manufacturing and smart communities. Nimbus has a proven track-record of technology transfer to industry in Ireland.

For further information please contact: Dr. Sergio Ceballos, National Contact Point for the Horizon 2020 Manufacturing programme, Enterprise Ireland. Email:

Project Factsheet: DENiM Project, Start Date: 1st November 2020

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 958339

Career-FIT PLUS Call for Proposals Opportunity for 25 Companies to avail of fully funded international talent to support their research and development ambition

One year after launching Call One, Enterprise Ireland opens the last call for applications to its Career-FIT PLUS – Career Development Fellowships in National Technology Centres and Technology Gateways Programme. The aim of the Programme is to recruit 50 experienced researchers to work on market-focused research projects in Ireland for three years.

The programme is co-funded by the EU under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie CO-FUND Scheme under Horizon 2020 and it is an innovative concept where top talent and skills coming from all around the world are matched with the research needs of enterprises in Ireland.

This is also a great opportunity for international researchers as they are hosted by a Third Level Institution, spend between 6 to 12 months at the partner company and also work with Enterprise Ireland’s Technology Centres and Technology Gateway Network.

Following an international and independent expert evaluation, Enterprise Ireland approved funding for 25 fellowships involving eight different Technology Centres and Gateways and 22 Ireland-based companies of various sizes and sectors earlier this year. The aim of this call is to award the remaining 25 fellowships available under the scheme.

Welcoming the announcement, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar T.D. said: “There has never been a more important time for Irish businesses to adapt and innovate. This programme gives Irish companies access to world-class research, helping them reach the next stage of their development. For researchers, this is a fantastic opportunity to take part in industry-focused research, making a real impact on the businesses they work with.”

Speaking of the opening of Call Two, Garrett Murray National Director for Horizon 2020 at Enterprise Ireland said: “This is the final opportunity to participate in this successful Programme so I would encourage all the companies and researchers that have an interest in carrying out industry-focused collaborative research to apply for the Programme. We have already seen the benefits that have been derived by stakeholders who engaged in similar programmes and this call for applications provides a great opportunity for companies to engage in Horizon 2020 for what might be their first time to undertake international research collaboration”.

Call Two will remain open from September 7th, 2020 until the end of the year.
For further information please click here: Career-FIT PLUS Call for Proposals
Contact: Micol Martinelli, Career-FIT Programme Manager, Email:


Head Office

Enterprise Ireland
East Point Business Park, Dublin 3
Tel: +353 1 727 2000 | Fax: +353 1 727 2020

  • The Department for Agriculture Food and the Marine
  • The Environmental Protection Agency Ireland
  • Health Research Board
  • Higher Education Authority
  • Irish Research Council
  •  Irish Universities Association
  • The Marine Institute
  • Science Foundation Ireland (SFI
  • The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Horizon 2020 national support network led by Enterprise Ireland