Ireland Funds launches annual business start-ups competition

The Ireland Funds has launched its annual Business Plan Competition 2021, offering €27,000 to kick-start four smart, new business ideas.

The competition will include a special category for mental health innovation, in partnership with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services.

The competition is a leading third-level start-up competition on the island of Ireland, with participation from 39 universities, colleges, research centres, and institutes of technology, to date.

Now in its tenth year, it seeks to nurture creativity and hone entrepreneurial skills among early-stage entrepreneurs, and is open for entries until March 16, 2021.

University and third-level students and researchers, as well as recent graduates (two years or less ) across the island of Ireland, are invited to submit proposals that are at pre-investment stage.

Ten applicants will be shortlisted and invited to participate in virtual pre-acceleration workshops in April, May, and June to bring their business ideas from concept to pitch, as well as receiving mentoring and feedback throughout the process.

There will be a final pitching event online in June and three prizes will be awarded. The winner will have the opportunity to receive one-to-one mentoring from San Francisco-based tech-entrepreneur and Business Plan Competition Founder, Bill McKiernan, as well as securing a €15,000 cash prize. Second place will receive a €7,000 cash prize and third place will receive €2,000.

Over the last four years, The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition finalists have collectively gone on to raise €8.1m+ in follow-on funding.

“I proposed the idea of a Business Plan Competition to The Ireland Funds in 2010 during the depths of the Irish recession.

“The economic climate in Ireland was pretty bleak at the time and it was clear that the biggest contribution The Ireland Funds could make to Ireland was to help create jobs.

“Young people in Ireland should be encouraged to take risks. They need to be more comfortable with failure and the lessons learned from it. The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition hopes to do that,” Bill McKiernan, President at WSM Capital, LLC, founder of CyberSource Corporation and Board Director of The Ireland Funds America, said.

Since 2019, The Ireland Funds has partnered with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS ) to award a prize to kick-start a mental health focussed business plan.

The partnership continues this year with a €3,000 prize fund for the best mental health solution that addresses a COVID-related challenge, for example, new and novel ideas for service delivery models, or tools to promote self-care. This prize is in addition to the €24,000 prize money, and entries to this category are also eligible to win first, second or third runner up prizes in the overall competition.


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