The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition

The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition, now in its eighth year, looks to nurture creativity and hone entrepreneurial skills among 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 Sunday, 28 April 2019. 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, €29,000 in prize money and other supports.

First prize

The opportunity to pitch for a place on one of NDRC’s investment programmes along with €15,000 cash prize. NDRC is Ireland’s most successful digital accelerator, specifically designed to enable entrepreneurial teams transform solid ideas into commercially viable startups.

Runners-up prizes

  • €7,000 cash prize (first runner-up)
  • €2,000 cash prize (second runner-up)

Mental health innovation prize

  • €5,000 cash prize for a technology idea that focuses on mental health, courtesy of St Patrick's Mental Health Services.

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 students, researchers or recent graduates (two years) within universities and third-level institutions. Specifically we are looking for four things:

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

General Guidelines

Applications closed on Sunday, 28 April 2019.


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.


Monday, 11 March 2019
Applications open
Apply online until Sunday, 28 April 2019. CLOSED

Wednesday 15 May 2019
Shortlist selection of ten companies announced.

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

Workshop 1: Thursday, 23 May 2019
Problem Canvas

Workshop 2: Wednesday, 29 May 2019
Customer Validation

Workshop 3: Wednesday, 5 June 2019
Value Proposition + Market Opportunity

Workshop 4: Monday, 10 June 2019
Pitch Preparation

Final Pitches: Wednesday, 19 June 2019
Will take place in Belfast

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 $600 million for deserving causes in Ireland and beyond, benefiting more than 3,200 different organisations.


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 250 portfolio companies, which have gone on to secure more than €190 million in cumulative follow-on funding. The collective value of the ventures in our portfolio is in excess of €490 million. We are delighted to be recognised as the #2 University Business Accelerator in Europe (UBI 2018).