15TH OCTOBER, 2020

A Brief Guide To Start-Up Funding In Ireland

Knowing what’s out there

Got a business idea you can’t wait to get off the ground? Luckily, Ireland is one of the best places to be when it comes to getting that all-important start-up funding.

There’s a range of options available to suit every business need. Here we take a look.

Banks and credit unions

Many entrepreneurs shop around for a business loan or overdraft from their bank, or compare what other banks have on offer. It’s also well worth getting in touch with your local credit union (use the Credit Union Locator).

We also recommend taking a look at the Start-up Refunds for Entrepreneurs as you may be able to claim back any income tax you paid across the last six years which can then be invested into your business.

Small business loans and allowances

Aside from banks and credit unions, Microfinance Ireland offers small business loans for organisations that have 10 employees or fewer. You can receive up to €25,000 as long as your proposal is commercially viable.

Recently lost your job? Then head over to the Start your own Business Relief page on the government website. It was specially set up to support people who are currently long-term unemployed and who wish to start their own business. There are also options like the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance and the three-year corporate tax exemption. Plus, if your start-up is a limited company you may also be able to claim an Innovation voucher worth €5,000.

Don’t forget the New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme

150 places are available every year on the New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme so competition is fierce but the rewards are high. Successful candidates will be offered €15,000 as well as training in such areas like marketing, communications and business planning. See Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme webpage for more details.

IDA Ireland has a wealth of information on these schemes and more, plus there’s some useful support around the legal side of setting up and growing your business on the Nathan Trust website.

Accelerator programmes

Accelerator programmes are aimed at businesses that have already found their feet but that have the potential to grow much bigger. These accelerator programmes usually administer seed capital in return for a share of the business.

There are a range of accelerator programmes out there so it’s worth doing your research. Popular ones include Startupbootcamp, Launchbox and Dogpatch Labs.


Again, there are all sorts of funding competitions on offer and these are launched very regularly. Main ones in the recent past have included Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur and Tech All Stars.


Thanks to the meteoric rise of social media, crowdfunding opportunities have skyrocketed in recent years. It’s a great way to get small businesses started, especially as the money achieved typically doesn’t have to be paid back. It’s also an excellent opportunity to build your brand’s identity and reputation.

Popular sites for Irish entrepreneurs include Kickstarter, Linked Finance and Fundit.ie. Of course, you may also be lucky enough to obtain financial backing from family and friends (but make sure all arrangements are clearly documented in writing).

Angel investors

Angel investors are individuals who provide capital so that small businesses can start up or expand. These investors generally only entertain returns of at least 25% so there is some financial commitment there too. However, angel investors are also a goldmine of information and mentorship, so they’re an ideal all-round solution for many. The Halo Business Angel Network is a good place to start looking. Also contact the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) for further information on angel investors, as well as your local Citizens Information Service.

Venture capital funding

Venture capital funding is another way of sourcing finance once your business is more established and ready to grow. Often the risks are high, but so are the rewards. Venture capital firms will also target specific sectors they wish to invest in.

The Venture Capital Funds page of the Enterprise Ireland website goes into the venture capital options in more detail.

Once you’re up and running, R&D Tax Credits can also help finance growth

Perhaps your new business has been around for a while now and you’re looking to grow with a brand new product or service? Alternatively, you might be looking to expand your product line, upgrade a product that already exists or try to diversify your offering. If the research involved included tackling some kind of technological or scientific uncertainty then R&D Tax Credits could well be claimed to help cover some of the costs.

What are R&D Tax Credits?

The Revenue-backed R&D Tax Credits scheme is available to any Irish company, regardless of profitability or sector. What’s really attractive is that it doesn’t matter whether the project was even a success or not. Plus, up to €37.50 for €100 of R&D expenditure can be claimed back so it’s a very generous scheme too.

The benefit is offered either by reducing a company’s Corporation Tax liability, or as a lump sum credit for those who made a loss. Qualifying costs range from materials and staff salaries to subcontractor costs, overheads, prototypes, testing and more.

As leading R&D tax and grant specialists we’ve seen an amazing 70% increase in enquiries across both our Dublin and UK bases in comparison to this time last year. More and more business owners are understanding the importance of taking specialist R&D tax advice, especially during these unprecedented times.

To discover more about R&D Tax Credits, including when and how to apply, do take a look at our R&D Tax Credits page. There’s also our great value Tax Cloud portal too - simply follow our 4 step process and make your maximised R&D tax claim online. Plus, no fees apply until your tax credit has been received, reducing the risk to you.

Begin your claim today using the Tax Cloud portal for businesses, or you can speak to our team on +353 1 566 2001. There’s also the option to send us a message if you wish.

Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA
Author Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA CEO, Tax Cloud
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Barrie Dowsett Barrie Dowsett ACMA CGMA Chief Executive Officer
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