Cross-border seed capital fund open
Entrepreneurs from Northern Ireland could get a huge cash boost for their business as cross-border body InterTradeIreland launches its Seedcorn Business Competition 2018.
There is a total prize fund of €280,000 (£244k) on offer from the competition, with firms getting a cash injection of up to €100,000 (£87k) to help them develop.
InterTrade said that with seed finance hard to attract, "this competition is an opportunity for ambitious start-ups to get their new ideas off the ground".
The programme also provides support and advice from investment experts through a programme modelled on a real venture capital process.
Ken Nelson, chairman of InterTradeIreland, said: "The overall winner will take home a €100,000 cash injection to support the growth of their business, which will go a long way towards realising ambitious expansion goals. However, Seedcorn is about so much more than just financial support. Participants benefit in a host of other ways, receiving invaluable guidance, tips and advice from our experts, investors and other entrepreneurs, as well as refining business plans.
"Since its inception in 2003, companies who have gone through Seedcorn have raised in excess of €229m; last year alone, in excess of €10m was raised."
Last year's overall winner was Phion Therapeutics in Belfast, which sells contract research services for pharmaceutical development and therapeutic applications.
Founder, Professor Helen McCarthy, said: "The best thing for us about the competition was that it taught us to think big from the start. I would encourage companies to be ambitious, enter with an open mind and be prepared to implement suggested refinements. We knew our technology inside out, but the process helped us develop a clearer business plan and understand what investors want from a start-up. It is a very intensive few months, but the work has to be done anyway and the competition is structured in such a way that, even if you aren't a finalist, participants are left in a much stronger position."