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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.9 Start-up funding for young entrepreneurs

Last update: 27 June 2024
On this page
  1. Access to information
  2. Access to capital

Access to information

Local Enterprise Offices 

Local Enterprise Offices offer advice, information and support to Startups and growing businesses.

Local Enterprise Office supports include:

  • Start-your-own-business training courses.
  • Market research information.
  • Business planning advice and templates.
  • Access to experienced business mentors.
  • Feasibility grants.
  • Co-investment.


Young Social Innovators

Young Social Innovators (YSI) promotes education for social innovation. It empowers and supports young people to realise their potential as social innovators, giving them the skills and confidence to tackle the social issues facing them, their communities and wider society. Social innovation learning builds wellbeing amongst young people and communities and helps build a more inclusive, empathetic, fair society. It asks young people to examine the world through a new lens and to reimagine the type of society they would like to live in. It challenges them to put their ideas into practice and to bring their vision to reality. Alongside private sponsors, it is funded by several public sponsors:

  • Department of Rural and Community Development        
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY)
  • Department of Social Protection
  • HSE
  • WorldWise Global Schools
  • Dormant Accounts.

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland also offers a range of supports and grants to Irish businesses. Enterprise Ireland is the government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets. 

Enterprise Ireland funding programmes are open to anyone from entrepreneurs with a business idea that have the potential for a Startup to large companies that want to expand their business activities, improve efficiency, and grow sales.

The Student Entrepreneur Awards is a competition for third level student with a business idea, ran by Enterprise Ireland. First prize is €10,000 and the opportunity to avail of €30,000 worth of specialist advice and assistance to potentially help turn your enterprise idea into a business reality.

The Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up Team works with the leading Irish technology start-ups spinning out of industry, college research and overseas entrepreneurs locating in Ireland. This team provide advice, connections, feasibility assistance and investment to start-up companies with the potential to create jobs and export sales.

Enterprise Ireland offers help to those involved in a research project in a Higher Education Institute where there is potential for commercial exploitation via a spin-out company. The Enterprise Ireland Mentor Network can help spinouts and their promoters identify and overcome obstacles to start-up creation, development, and growth. Mentors in our Network can provide tailored advice, guidance, and support, to help accelerate development, build management capability, and grow.

Other initiatives

Other initiatives offer access to young people and students, alongside the wider population.

Supporting SMEs Online Tool is an interactive guide that lists cross-government supports for businesses. Enterprise Ireland’s Tool helps small businesses know which of the over 80 Government supports could potentially fit their business. South East BIC and West BIC are public private partnerships. They support the generation and development of new innovative enterprises and assists existing SMEs to innovate and expand. They provide high quality specialised business consultancy and active incubation.


Access to capital

Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur

Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur, described above, has an investment fund of up to €2million. Each of the 31 Local Enterprise Offices awards up to six investments to three category winners and three runners-up at county level. The local winners in the Best Start-Up and Best-Established Business categories at county level will receive investments of up to €15,000 each and the two runners-up will each receive up to €5,000.

Young Social Innovators

YSI Den, is a social innovation fund, ran by Young Social Innovators. It is made available to groups who successfully pitch for assistance to support or develop an idea, product, or enterprise. Supports can include money, means and mentoring. Young Social Innovators is supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development.

Student Entrepreneur Awards

First prize in The Student Entrepreneur Awards, described above, includes €10,000.

Other initiatives

Other initiatives offer access to young people and students, alongside the wider population.

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance is designed to provide a monetary incentive for people who are long-term dependent on social welfare payments to make engagement in self-employment financially attractive and viable, while allowing them to retain a reducing proportion of their qualifying social welfare payment over two years (100% in year 1 and 75% in year 2).

The enterprise officers of Local Development Companies and INTREO Case Officers work closely with applicants in developing business plans and projections and providing continuing support to individual start-ups.

New Frontiers is Ireland’s national entrepreneur development programme run by Enterprise Ireland partnership with the Institutes of Technology. The programme is designed to support entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas who are planning to establish and run their own company. A range of supports including mentoring, incubation space and a €15,000 scholarship payment are provided to help accelerate the development of the business and to equip the promoter(s) with the skills and contacts needed to successfully start and grow a company.