The Ireland Funds: Business Plan Competition 2019

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Are you looking to bring your project to the next level? The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition may just be what you are looking for!

The Ireland Funds joined the Enactus network in 2012 and has been a proud partner ever since. The mission of The Ireland Funds is to harness the power of a global philanthropic network of friends of Ireland to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development across the island of Ireland and among Irish communities around the world.

The Ireland Funds has a long history of supporting excellence and addressing need in Ireland. Since 2012, it has run the all-island Business Plan Competition, an entrepreneurship competition that focuses on early-stage ideas at pre-investment level. Founded by San Francisco based Ireland Funds America Board Director Bill McKiernan of CyberSource and WSM Capital LLC, the competition is modelled on the Harvard Business School New Ventures Competition, which Bill is also involved in. By focusing on early-stage entrepreneurs, the competition promotes the skills and resilience needed to develop globally scalable businesses, attract investment and, ultimately, create jobs.

The competition is open to university and third-level students and recent graduates (2 years) on the island of Ireland, specifically with technology propositions with global scalability potential and a team. Ten shortlisted teams participate on 4 rigorous pre-acceleration workshop days, culminating in a showcase, which will take place in Belfast in June as part of the Ireland Funds Global Conference. A prize fund of €29,000 has been confirmed for 2019, and applications will close on Sunday, 28 April 2019. Applications can be made online at here.

Some key statistics. Since 2012:

  • 480 applications have been received from every corner of the island of Ireland with representation from all Irish universities and leading third-level institution.

  • 58 teams have pitched at 8 showcase events.

  • Cash prizes totaling €130,000 have been awarded to 23 winning teams and runners-up.

  • Participating teams from the 2017 and 2018 cohorts have collectively raised €3.7m in follow-on investment.

In addition to the overall prize, The Ireland Funds, in partnership with St Patrick's Mental Health Services, added an extra €5,000 prize fund for a technology idea that focuses on mental health. The prize will be awarded in addition to the €24,000 prize money for first, second and third runner up. Entries with a mental health focus are also eligible to win first, second or third runner up prizes. The call-out is being made to technology business ideas that focus on any of the following criteria:

  • Prevention of Mental Health Difficulties in Young People. This would include technology ideas to improve young people’s mental health literacy so that they are educated and aware of how to manage their mental health proactively

  • Early Intervention for Young People with existing Mental Health Difficulties. This would include technology ideas which connect young people with existing mental health difficulties, with professional support, tools and advice anytime and anywhere

  • Relapse Prevention in Adults with enduring Mental Health Difficulties. This would include technology ideas that empower a person to maintain their recovery 

In 2017, The Ireland Funds partnered with NDRC to deliver the Business Plan Competition. NDRC has a mandate from Government to find, build and invest in tech companies and start-up teams with the potential to grow internationally. Throughout the BPC programme, NDRC will offer key support and mentorship to participants by hosting a series of intensive workshops, offering feedback from their Venture Investment team, hot-desk space and more.

For more information, please contact Hannah at hbrogan@irlfunds.org.

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Liam Redmond