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What ‘grants’ and other supports apply to my startup business? (Covid-19 update)

This is a two part blogpost; the first part deals with supports arising from Covid-19; while the second part written before Covid-19 provides a comprehensive overview of supports for business available from the Enterprise Agencies to include LEO, Enterprise Ireland and Leader.

June 2020 – Summary of Covid-19 Supports for Business in Ireland:

The slidedeck above was created in March and unfortunately slideshare does not allow it to be updated.

The Department of Business Enterprise & Innovation provides the best source of up to date information on Government Supports for Covid-19 impacted busineses. For smaller businesses the top five most relevant are probably:

1. Business Continuity Voucher – apply to your Local Enterprise Office. Designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people, the voucher is worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs (at no cost to the company) and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the business challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. [Please note that I have been asked by both LEO Galway and LEO Mayo to assist some businesses under this initiative].

2. Trading Online Voucher – the expanded TOV scheme available from your LEO helps small businesses with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets- There is up to €2,500 available with co-funding of 10% from the business.

3. Microfinance Ireland loans

The COVID-19 Business Loan from Microfinance Ireland (MFI), in partnership with Local Enterprise Offices, provides business loans of up to €50,000 for eligible micro-enterprises (ie businesses with less than 10 employees and up to €2 million in annual turnover). Loan terms are typically 3 years, 6 months interest free and repayment free moratorium wtih interest rate of 4.5%.

4. Restart Grant

From your Local Authority, the Restart Grant provides direct grant aid to micro and small business who were closed or impacted by at least 25% projected reduction in turnover to the end of June 2020. The grants will be equivalent to the rates bill of the business in 2019 or a minimum of €2000, with a maximum grant of €10,000 – even if you paid less than €2000 in 2019.

5. Enterprise Ireland

EI has a very comprehensive website outlining their response to severe challenges posed for Irish businesses from Covid-19 – this is a screenshot from their Global Ambition website as of early June 2020.

Enterprise Ireland Covid 19 response

Visit EI Global Ambition Website

Pre-existing supports remain valid and relevant so the key first step is to contact your Development Advisor in Enterprise Ireland or your Local Enterprise Office.


If you have ever wondered what supports that you and your startup business could and should apply for, read on:

This blogpost was first written in 2011, and has been updated several times most recently in July 2017. The accompanying presentation has also been updated.

This original blogpost is still largely accurate. The big 4 changes: include the Enterprise Boards being rebranded as the Local Enterprise Offices while Enterprise Ireland have also rebranded the EPPs as New Frontiers. The scheme formerly known as Seed Capital Relief is now SURE – Startup Refunds For Entrepreneurs.  Finally, CSF has also been launched since this post was first published!


BTW, in 2013, I wrote a related blogpost for Small Business Can that lists 5 starting points for help from the Enterprise Agencies when you are starting a business – including an old version of the image below:

Supports for my startup business 2015


This article will now address the supports available depending on the stage of development of your startup company: pre-enterprise; early stage; and established startup.

Pre-Startup Trading

For those in the pre-enterprise stage (thinking of starting up and probably working) the options are:
•    Feasibility
•    Start Your Own Business Programmes, and
•    Mentoring.


In Ireland the bodies who are worth talking to at this stage include the Local Enterprise Office; Enterprise Ireland; the BICs such as WestBIC; Partnerships and possibly the Chambers.


Your local bank manager is also worth approaching! The website is definitely worth a visit. Best LinkedIn group is Startup Ireland to compliment their website and offline networking while I also recommend the Startup Digest for an up to date digest of events for Startups in Galway, Limerick, Dublin and/or Cork.


And don’t forget to talk to your local Social Welfare Office about the Back to Work Short Term Enterprise Allowance. Other organisations to contact include Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and your local Community Enterprise Centres.

Early Stage Startups

For companies in the early stage of business the enterprise support agencies become more relevant:
•    Innovation Vouchers
•    BOI StartLab
•    Priming Grant with your LEO
•    Get Export Ready programme incorporating the FirstFlight Programme.

Campus incubation centres such as ArcLabs (Waterford), Synergy Centre (Tallaght) and the Innovation Hubs (iHubs) in GMIT are a great resource to startup entrepreneurs. New Frontiers is Ireland’s national entrepreneur programme located in the Institutes of Technology around the country.

The Competitive Start Fund (CSF) is also relevant at this stage – check out my blogposts on applying for CSF as are the various NDRC programmes to include NDRC @ Portershed operating in Galway since 2017.

The Microsoft for Startups programme (formerly called BizsSpark programme) is also worth investigating.

Established Startup Supports

For more established startup businesses the Local Enterprise Offices offer Business Expansion Grants while for companies with international potential Enterprise Ireland offer:
•  Strategic Consultancy,
•  R&D supports and
•  HPSU supports to include equity investment, key person support
•  Access to international offices
•  Use of their information centre.
•  Horizon 2020 funding to include SME Instrument


InterTrade Ireland also offer a range of supports to startups and SMEs to include Fusion and Acumen and of course the Seedcorn Competition (also see my business plan case study about a client company which won a Regional award of €20,000 in 2014)

Other finance supports to be aware of are MicroFinance Ireland (previously First Step); Startup Refunds for Entrepreneurs (SURE) formerly known as Seed Capital Relief; and Employment and Investment Initiative (EII)] previously called as Business Expansion Scheme (BES).

Other organisations to check out include: Enterprise Equity (AIB Seed Capital Fund);  Kernel Capital (Bank of Ireland Seed Capital Fund); and HBAN – the business angel network to include WXNW (West by North West) which was established in April 2015; Nucleus Venture Partners; IBM Global Entrepreneur Initiative and the Small Business Advice Programme; Skillnets, Plato, and Supply Network Shannon.

As this 2014 blogpost indicates i have a long standing interest in crowdfunding  so worth checking out Spark Crowdfunding; and;

BTW, Intertrade Ireland offer monthly regional clinics with Drew O’Sullivan aimed at helping companies seeking equity investment – this would be a good starting point for companies seeking equity investment.

Supports for Social Enterprise

There are also a range of supports for Social Enterprise – businesses delivering a strong social impact.


All of the organisations listed in this blog have specific criteria that you should familiarise yourself with before making an official application. I think it is worth contacting them for a chat at an early stage to build a relationship.


As always I welcome your comments, social shares and suggestions. I would appreciate your help in adding to this list!

7 Responses so far.

  1. Graham Royce says:

    Hi Donncha

    This looking very professional.

    As for the grants all seems to be at a stand still at the moment.

    I would agree with your comments talk to all of the agencies about what is really available.

    However there will be a merging of some kind with all the agencies over the coming months so all systems change.

    In the current climate if you can get the money form else where then do so.


  2. Niamh Quinn says:

    Great blog Donncha! Well done, looks super. Must get blogging more myself.

  3. Paul Browne says:


    Thanks for the post mentioning us in Enterprise Ireland.

    If you in either the software or services area, a good resource is our ‘BestConnected’ blog – it gives a lot more information on the intiatives , events and supports in the sector;


    • Donncha says:


      Thanks for sharing that link. It is great to have the information on Enterprise Ireland initiatives, events and supports in the software and services area.


  4. Sarah Cagney says:

    Great resource Donncha – thanks for pulling all the information together and featuring HBAN!

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