The Startup Journey

All multinational, billion-euro businesses started out with an idea, before ending in success. But what about the in-between? Here, NDRC explains the route startups can take from a kernel in the back of someone's mind, to finally raising the multi-million euro deal to help you crack the US.

It's a confusing map from ideation to exit, with services and opportunities as endless as the market potential of your startup. 

However, it's important that everybody is aware of where, and when, they can seek financial support during the startup journey. 

So we have created a list which, while not exhaustive, should show entrepreneurs in early stage companies where the financial supports are. 

  • Research stage
  • Stimulating & Incubating
  • Pre-Seed Investing
  • Seeding
  • Scaling


DCU Ustart 

This is a free programme for DCU students, running part-time during the summer months, June-October. €30,000 in business development funding is available to participating teams, allocated based on progress throughout the programme. Mentorship is provided to help each startup get to the stage of producing a minimum viable product.

EI Commercialisation Fund 

Researchers in third-level institutions and non-profit research agencies and organisations in the Republic of Ireland are eligible to apply.

Proposals with costs typically ranging from €80,000-€350,000 from all disciplines in the field of science and engineering are accepted. Proposals with costs outside this range will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

TCD Launchbox 

LaunchBox is a summer accelerator programme open to teams of Trinity students (undergrad and postgrad) with an early-stage business. The programme provides mentorship, as well as access to alumni and investors. There is no investment as part of this programmes.

Stimulating and Incubating

NDRC Pre-acceleration / Pre-commercialisation

Short term, less intense and more fluid than NDRC's core activity, pre-acceleration plays a valuable role in stimulating ideas among potential entrepreneurs. It also helps to connect corporates and startups interested in digital transformation. For more information on upcoming Pre-Acceleration activities contact

NDRC's Pre-Commercialisation Programme prepares researchers to focus beyond academia and helps them to transition their intellectual activities into the marketplace. For more information on upcoming Pre-Commercialisation activities contact

There is no investment as part of these programmes.

New Frontiers (Enterprise Ireland)

New Frontiers is a three-phase programme, designed to provide an integrated and comprehensive set of business development supports to participants. Phase one is ten weeks long, with training built to improve chances of accessing phase two. Here, full-time incubation support is married with a grant of up to €15,000 (no equity), and additional bits and pieces such as Amazon web-hosting support and access to Microsoft’s BizSpark platform. Phase three is a three-month incubation.

The programme is open to applications over the age of 18, from a range of sectors including food & consumer products; information & communication technology; engineering & electronics; medical devices; biotechnology; pharma, digital media; cleantech/renewable energy and eligible internationally-traded services.

Startup Boost 

Over the space of six weeks, Startup Boost works with early stage startups to help prepare companies for accelerator programmes, or seed investment. There is no investment as part of this programme.

Startup Weekend

All Techstars Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) before a three-day blitz of various business-building activities. There is no investment as part of this programme.

UCC Ignite 

UCC Ignite is open to recent graduates with a NFQ Level 7, 8, 9 or 10 qualification in any discipline from any 3rd level institution. It provides 30 days of workshops, seminars and guest speaker events. It also provides office accommodation at UCC for up to 15 months. There is no investment as part of this programme.

UCD VentureLaunch

VentureLaunch is UCD’s accelerator programme, held at NovaUCD, to support the creation and launch of sustainable and profitable new ventures based on UCD intellectual property. This programme replaced the NovaUCD Campus Company Development Programme. The overall winner of the annual programme gets €10,000 of seed money in cash.

Pre-Seed Investing


NDRC invests in early stage digital startups, providing capital and expertise to young Irish companies with international growth potential. Once a company joins NDRC, the team works intensively with each, over a short time-frame, to help them understand what value their company can offer customers, their strategy for growth and getting them ready to meet the demands of both investors and customers. 

Startups that join NDRC programmes get: Investment of between €30,000-€100,000 per venture; three months working alongside a broad spectrum of start-ups, innovators and investors; Expert mentorship in areas such as customer discovery, business model design, sales and growth tactics, finance, investment, technology, marketing, design and communications; Weekly workshops and networking with acknowledged thought leaders; The opportunity to build your connections with the investment community.

NDRC’s national remit has seen it develop accelerator programmes in Dublin, Galway and, in 2018, Waterford.

Enterprise Ireland

The Competitive Start Fund programme, through Enterprise Ireland, sees €50,000 investments put into startups (10 per cent equity) to develop a minimum viable product and further customer validation. This programme exists under numerous themes, such as experience professionals, female founders etc.


500 Startups

500 Startups is a global venture capital seed fund with a network of startup programs headquartered in Silicon Valley with over $390M in committed capital across four main funds and 13 micro funds. It has invested in +1,800 technology startups all over the world, including several in Ireland.


Act is a technology-focused VC firm. It has raised more than €450 million across multiple funds to investments spanning technology sectors and investment stages ranging from seed to growth.

Act looks for companies with potentially cutting-edge, category-defining businesses in markets including application software, IT infrastructure, communications, Internet and mobile. 

Atlantic Bridge

Atlantic Bridge Capital is a group with more than $500 million of assets under management across five funds, investing in technology companies in Europe, the US and China, with offices in London, Dublin, Silicon Valley, Beijing & Hong Kong.

Its ‘University Bridge Fund’ is focused on investing in early stage companies with global potential that are built from world class research generated at all Irish third-level institutions and universities.


Dublin Business Innovation Centre (Dublin BIC) is a public-private business support organisation, working with state agencies and private sector investors to help entrepreneurs. CorkBIC is much the same, a private-sector led organisation, specifically set up to identify and build knowledge intensive companies based on promising technology and capable innovative people. Elsewhere there is also WestBIC, South EastBIC etc.

Enterprise Equity

With three funds under management, Enterprise Equity has invested in excess of €50m in over 80 companies throughout Ireland, with many of its founders/companies based in or significantly operating from North America and other locations.

In addition, the Enterprise Equity managed AIB Seed Capital Fund has an overall committed fund size of €53m. EEVC will invest €0.25m to €1.5m per business from this fund. Individual investments by Enterprise Equity are typically up to €1.5 million. The group will participate in larger deals through syndication.

“We are medium to long-term investors. Our investment horizon is typically from four to seven years.”

Enterprise Ireland

A total of €124 million is under management in Enterprise Ireland supported seed capital funds. The four main seed funds operating in Ireland are:


Frontline is an “early-stage B2B venture capital firm powered by people - the ambitious founders we invest in, our strong networks of industry experts, and our own passionate team of ex-operators”. Frontline is based in London and Dublin, but backs companies throughout Europe.


Halo Business Angel Network is an all-island umbrella group responsible for the development of business angel syndicates on the island of Ireland – often through the BICs’ apparatus.

HBAN currently has five ‘Regional Business Angel Networks’: Halo Angel Plus (Northern Ireland), Investor Forum (Dublin), HBAN West, HBAN South West and HBAN South East.

It also has seven syndicate groups in operation across the island: WxNW (North West), Bloom Equity, Food (Both Dublin), SEBAN (South East), Irrus Investments, MedTech (Both West) and Bool (South).


Jenson has invested more than £12 million in 82 companies to date, with its fourth SEIS and EIS fund seeing approximately 10 per cent of that spread across 15 businesses in 2017.

SOS Ventures

SOSV has a global fund with $300 million assets under management and a global staff of nearly 80 operating world-renowned accelerators in the areas of hardware, software, biology, food, robotics, medical devices, transportation, green energy, and beyond. The organisation has more than 500 companies in its portfolio, and every year graduates more than 150 startups through its various accelerator programmes around the world.

Suir Valley

The Waterford-based, €20-million Suir Valley Venture Fund was launched in 2017 through a partnership between London-based Shard Capital and state agency Enterprise Ireland. The fund is managed by Barry Downes, the founder of software startup FeedHenry, which was acquired for €63.5 million in 2014, and Brian Kinane, an entrepreneur with a background in the telecoms industry. 

Tribal VC

Tribal was founded in 2014. To date it has backed more than 20 early stage companies, who in aggregate have gone on to raise over $150M in growth financing.

Highlights include Irish breakout successes Intercom, Boxever, Jolt and NDRC company, NewsWhip. Tribal typically leads four-to-six new investments per year, investing between $200,000 and $1M, specialising in enterprise SaaS.


Atlantic Bridge 

Atlantic Bridge Capital is a group with more than $500 million of assets under management across five funds, investing in technology companies in Europe, the US and China, with offices in London, Dublin, Silicon Valley, Beijing & Hong Kong.

Its ‘Summit Bridge Capital’ is a growth technology fund co-managed by Atlantic Bridge Capital and WestSummit Capital. The Fund targets fast growing technology companies with a presence or strategic interest in Ireland or China.

Draper Esprit 

Draper Esprit is a Pan-European venture capital fund that invests into disruptive tech companies at the early and growth stages. The Irish State Investment Fund-backed venture capital company floated in Dublin and London last year, and recently raised £100 million (€115 million) in a share sale as it seeks to fund investment opportunities.


Currently, the team manages a €75 million fund and is actively looking to invest in fast growing companies across Ireland. The fund has made 17 investments to date and our team has over 40 years venture capital experience investing in 25 companies in two previous funds.


Polaris Partners is a venture capital firm investing in technology and healthcare companies across all stages. Polaris has offices in Boston, Massachusetts, San Francisco, California and Dublin, Ireland. The firm has over $4 billion under management and current investments in more than 100 companies