The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition

The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition, now in its seventh year, seeks to nurture creativity and hone entrepreneurial skills amongst Irish-based early-stage technology entrepreneurs. 

Participants will have the opportunity to develop their business ideas and compete for the opportunity to pitch for a place on one of NDRC’s investment programmes, cash prizes and other supports.

What is it?

The Ireland Funds has partnered with NDRC to help you bring your idea from concept to pitch. Applications will be accepted until noon on Wednesday, 25th April 2018. Ten business ideas will then be selected to receive mentoring and support from NDRC through a series of workshops during May and June, with the opportunity to compete to pitch for a place on one of NDRC’s investment programmes, €16,000 in prize money and other supports.

First prize

The opportunity to pitch for a place on one of NDRC’s investment programmes along with  €10,000 cash prize. NDRC is Ireland’s most successful digital accelerator, specifically designed to enable entrepreneurial teams transform solid ideas into commercially viable startups.

Runner-up prizes 

€5,000 cash prize (first runner-up)
€1,000 cash prize (second runner-up)

All finalists will receive detailed feedback on their business ideas and pitches from the NDRC Venture Investment Team and Judging Panel.

Who is eligible?

The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition is open to anyone resident in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland at pre-investment stage. Specifically we are looking for three things: 

  • A technology/digital proposition
  • Global scalability potential
  • Team (must be more than one person)
  • Should be at pre-seed stage

General Guidelines 

Applicants must apply online by noon on Wednesday, 25th May 2018 at

Applicants should be part of a team (more than one person). There are no limits as to the number of members each team may have, however teams may only select up to three participants to complete the workshop days.

The competition is open to anyone resident in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at pre-investment stage.


We are looking for smart new business ideas amongst Ireland’s early-stage technology entrepreneurs. Convince us that your business idea is the next big thing and you will receive support to develop your business idea from concept to pitch. Ten companies will be selected to participate on four pre-acceleration workshops. At the finale, our judging panel comprising leading entrepreneurs, executives and investors, will select the winner and runners-up.


Thursday, 1st March 2018
Applications open 
Apply online until noon on Wednesday, 25th April 2018 at

Friday, 4th May 2018 
Shortlist selection of ten companies announced.

Workshop Days will take place at NDRC in Dublin. Teams must be available for all sessions.

Workshop 1: Wednesday, 16th May 2018 
Business Model Canvas

Workshop 2: Wednesday, 23rd May 2018 
Customer Validation

Workshop 3: Wednesday, 30th May 2018 
Value Proposition + Market Opportunity

Workshop 4: Wednesday, 6th June 2018 
Pitch Preparation

Final Pitches: Wednesday, 20th June 2018
Will take place in Limerick

Programme Schedule

The Ireland Funds 

The Ireland Funds is a global philanthropic network established in 1976 to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development throughout the island of Ireland, and Irish-related causes around the world. With chapters in 12 countries, The Ireland Funds has raised over $550 million for deserving causes in Ireland and beyond, benefitting more than 3,000 different organisations. 

Programme Brochure


NDRC is an early stage investor in tech companies and startups funded through the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. NDRC’s digital ventures cross a range of industry sectors. It invests primarily using an accelerator model, providing modest amounts of capital and a high level of hands on support to early-stage digital companies. Since 2007, NDRC has invested in more than 220 portfolio companies, which have gone on to secure more than €150m in cumulative follow-on funding. The collective value of the ventures in our portfolio is in excess of €425m. We are delighted to be recognised as the #2 University Business Accelerator in Europe (UBI 2018).