With more local venture capital funding available than ever before, innovative Irish businesses have now got greater access to equity funding.
This was the message from today’s 13th InterTradeIreland Venture Capital (VC) Conference at the Titanic Belfast, which brought together entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, business angels, investors and company representatives, to share insights into the array of funding options available to businesses.
With VC activity on the island up by 6% in 2013 from €260mn to €284mn according to the recent Irish VC Association’s Venture Pulse survey, the event highlighted the many funding opportunities now available to businesses and advice on accessing funds.
Drew O’Sullivan, InterTradeIreland’s lead equity advisor said: “There is an array of funding and equity supports available to Irish high growth companies, particularly venture capital, seed and business angel funding. Over the last 12 months alone we have seen a number of companies announce that they have raised significant funds including; AMCS Group Logentries, Movidius, Sophia Search, Swrve, Intercom, Cleverbug and of course one of the biggest success stories led by an Irish team, Stripe. There has never been a better time for investor-ready SMEs to seek funding in Ireland.
“What is particularly interesting to note is the growing number of local investors. Government support has helped create an environment where firms can look for funding without the need to go abroad. Companies can seek all levels of funding from seed level all the way up to larger venture capital investments from these local sources. Major overseas investors have also been attracted to Ireland, including the likes of Highland Capital, DFJ Esprit, Polaris, Better Capital, Carlyle Cardinal, MML and Sofinnova. Having these significant venture capital fund managers with partners working out of an Irish base means that Irish companies have a much better chance to complete large growth and expansion funding rounds, and we are seeing evidence of this now.”
InterTradeIreland supports SMEs through various equity supports, including an advisory service delivered by a venture capital professional, investment pitch master classes and business planning workshops and the very successful all-island Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition, helping them to become ‘investor-ready’.
Grainne Lennon, operations manager for InterTradeIreland, explains: “With substantial potential investment available from the VC and business angel community within the room alone today, this Conference will help to enhance delegates’ knowledge of and access to equity funding. The outlook for 2014 is extremely bright as innovation and available equity are both at their highest levels in recent years, which is further stimulating the venture capital market and economic regeneration across the island.
“With an opportunity to network with investors, it is important that companies understand what investors are looking for and have an understanding of due diligence requirements, be ‘investor-ready’ or at least armed with the knowledge of what they need to do to become ‘investor ready’. Venture capitalists and business angels, including those attending our conference today, will have a checklist in their head, of sectors in which they are interested and the desired financial gains. Today is a warm and open environment which allows companies to make their first impression and introduce themselves to potential investors, which could set the ball rolling for securing future investment for their business.”
Delegates attending the VC Conference heard from a number of speakers, including a keynote address from Patrick Joy, founder and chairman of Suretank and the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2013. Giving his advice to the entrepreneurs attending the conference, Joy said: “As an entrepreneur you have to look at it from the investor’s perspective; they are taking a calculated risk and are backing the people at the heart of the company. So you need to be committed, love your customers and love the buzz of the business you are building. You have to have ambition and enthusiasm and believe in yourself to take risks; no matter what business you are in. Inevitably, you are going to encounter setbacks along the way, but it’s about how you come back from those setbacks that counts and what investors are interested in. I could not have achieved the success I have had without the belief in my business and my team and the necessary support received from early stage investors. It was through their support that I have been able to build my team and my company to the place that it is in today.”
The conference also included a speed networking session and three parallel sessions covering early stage funding, series ‘A’ funding, and life sciences. Risk sharing, crowd-funding and state supports from InterTradeIreland, Enterprise Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland, also formed part of this comprehensive conference programme.