Competition offering €24,000 to boost early-stage technology startup

The Ireland Funds, in partnership with NDRC, has launched the annual Business Plan Competition 2019, offering €24,000 to kick-start three new technology business ideas.

The prize fund has increased by more than €8,000 this year, reflecting the organisers’ ambition to grow the competition year on year. Over the last two years, Business Plan Competition finalists have collectively gone on to raise €3.7m in follow-on funding, with 45% of the cohort securing €100,000 or more.

Kids Speech Labs, founded by Shona D’Arcy and Celine de Looze, became the first all-female team to win the prize last year and is currently developing a suite of products which will enable parents to track their children’s speech development.

CEO D’Arcy said: ‘The competition was a great starting point for our business, it helped us really understand what our business is about. The team at NDRC were incredibly supportive and the programme focused and fast paced. We came out of the competition with a clear vision of what was needed to build our startup.’

The Business Plan Competition founder Bill McKiernan, President at WSM Capital, LLC, founder of CyberSource and Board Director of The Ireland Funds America said: ‘The 2018 Business Plan Competition finalists were by far the best we’ve hosted to date, and the teams reflected the strength of entrepreneurship on the island of Ireland. It’s especially gratifying to see the growing representation by women. We were delighted to award Kids Speech Labs, created by a female duo, with first prize last year. We hope to see similar representation in 2019 and, with the significant increase in prize money, this will be our most ambitious year to date.’

Helen Fullen, Pre-Acceleration Programme lead at NDRC, said: ‘The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition is a wonderful exemplar of the value and impact of pre-acceleration support on early-stage ventures. From the content and peer-learning to the opportunity to engage with world-class mentors, it is a unique and, for many, a transformational experience’

The competition, which seeks to nurture creativity and hone entrepreneurial skills among early-stage technology entrepreneurs, is open for entries until Sunday, April 28th 2019. University and third-level students and researchers, as well as recent graduates across the island of Ireland, are invited to submit technology proposals that are at pre-investment stage.

Ten business ideas will then be shortlisted and will be invited to participate in four pre-acceleration workshops, bringing their business ideas from concept to pitch as well as receiving mentoring and feedback throughout the process. There will be a final pitching event and three prizes will be awarded. The winner will have the opportunity to pitch for a place on one of NDRC’s investment programmes as well as securing a €15,000 cash prize. Second place will receive a €7,000 cash prize and third place will receive €2,000.

Apply online: Here

About The Ireland Funds

The Ireland Funds’ mission 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. For further information visit: