Irish Gov’t Launches €500 Million VC Fund-of-Funds

The Irish government has launched a €500 million fund-of-funds “to support enterprise development and job creation.” Specifically, the vehicle will commit to international VC firms that agree to launch new European operations in Ireland.

PRESS RELEASE

The Taoiseach was at the New York Stock Exchange today where he launched ‘Innovation Fund – Ireland’, a €500m fund to support enterprise development and job creation. The Taoiseach stated that the Fund is “a key pillar of the Government’s Smart Economy strategy”.

The Taoiseach said “the Ireland of the future will be a smart, high-value, export-led economy. It will have some of the world’s leading research-intensive multinationals, a number of which will be Irish-owned. It will be a centre for advanced manufacturing. It will have thousands of innovative small and medium enterprises. These companies will be creating the products and services of tomorrow for a world market.”

The Taoiseach continued: “To position Ireland as a Global Innovation Hub, we must make Ireland: the best place in Europe to turn research and knowledge into products and services; the best place in Europe to start and grow an innovative company; the best place to relocate or expand and scale a small or medium-sized company; and, the best place in Europe for research-intensive multinationals to collaborate with each other and with clusters of small companies.”

The Innovation Taskforce has estimated that in the order of 120,000 new jobs could be created by 2020 by following this strategy.

The Taoiseach said “Venture capital is an essential ingredient for supporting entrepreneurs and ensuring that businesses can scale and create jobs. Lack of finance consistently emerges as a key impediment for innovative firms. Many successful companies that are now household names, like Google, Facebook and Staples, relied on venture financing to achieve the scale necessary to become multinational companies and provide large numbers of jobs. We must provide the right environment for such companies to develop in Ireland.”

Innovation Fund – Ireland will result in the establishment of the European operations of a number of leading or ‘top quartile’ international VC Fund managers in Ireland. It is a key pillar in the Government’s strategy to make Ireland one of the most attractive places for entrepreneurial activity and job creation.

The Taoiseach said “The Irish opportunity is actually a European opportunity. There is a demand for an attractive environment for entrepreneurship within Europe supported by smart capital. The success of Innovation Fund – Ireland will not rely solely on companies emerging within Ireland but will look beyond our borders to attract the best entrepreneurs and high-potential growth companies to Ireland. This will be aided by our established enterprise-friendly environment and our track record in attracting the best multinationals and high quality employees to Ireland. Ireland will become an attractive destination for the best entrepreneurs and a global innovation capital.”

The Taoiseach also announced that he is appointing an Advisory Board to advise Government on the strategic direction, progress and performance of the Fund and to assist in bringing global attention to it.

The Taoiseach said “I am pleased to announce that Damien Callaghan of Intel Capital has agreed to Chair the Advisory Board and I will be announcing the names of the other members shortly. Damien served on the Innovation Taskforce so is ideally placed to advise on the operation of the Fund and whether Government policies to position Ireland as a Global Innovation Hub and the vision we set out in ‘Building Ireland’s Smart Economy’ are being achieved. I am very grateful to Damien for taking on this task.”

The Taoiseach concluded by saying “In launching Innovation Fund – Ireland, we are presenting a positive message of confidence. The foundations for economic growth are not destroyed, but are firmly in place, ready to be built on. The recovery is underway. Not only have we come through the recession, recording the fastest rate of GDP growth in the EU, we will deliver on the step-change needed to secure sustainable economic growth through a significant increase in the level of company start-ups and job creation in innovative, export-focused sectors. Innovation Fund – Ireland is a key pillar of building our Smart Economy”.

ENDS

Note for Editors:
Innovation Fund – Ireland is complementary to, and builds on, existing enterprise policy, incentives introduced in successive Budgets, and the detailed action points in ‘Building Ireland’s Smart Economy’ and the recommendations of the report of the Innovation Taskforce, which are currently being implemented. An initial call for proposals from venture capital partnerships will be issued shortly via Enterprise Ireland.