News & Events

Enterprise Ireland launches €750k Competitive Start Fund (CSF) for women entrepreneurs

Start-up funding and business development support available to successful applicants

Enterprise Ireland’s €750k Competitive Start Fund (CSF) for Women Entrepreneurs will open for applications on Tuesday, 25 June. Up to €50,000 in equity funding is available to a maximum of 15 successful applicants with early stage start-up companies.

In addition to securing funding, successful applicants will be offered a place on the INNOVATE accelerator programme, delivered by Dublin BIC. Taking place over a 12-week period in the Guinness Enterprise Centre, the interactive INNOVATE programme will increase the capabilities of the participants and move them to investor-ready within a short period.

The purpose of a CSF for women entrepreneurs is to accelerate the growth of women-led start-up companies that have the capability to become High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) companies with the potential to employ more than 10 people and achieve €1 million in export sales within three years.

Introduced in 2012 as part of Enterprise Ireland’s female entrepreneurship strategy, the dedicated fund is designed to enable companies reach key commercial and technical milestones which will ensure delivery of their product or service to a global audience. Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund is funded by the Government of Ireland through the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, said: “We know that targeted initiatives have a positive impact on increasing the number of entrepreneurs from under-represented groups who want to start a business. I am delighted to announce that the Government, through Enterprise Ireland, is opening another Competitive Start Fund specifically geared towards supporting start-ups led by women. This new €750,000 fund for 2019 will provide valuable and practical support for the next generation of female-led companies with global ambition to compete in export markets.  The fund will help to address the distinctive challenges faced by women in realising their entrepreneurial potential.”

Sheelagh Daly, Entrepreneurship Manager, Enterprise Ireland added: “Our Competitive Start Fund for women entrepreneurs taps into a wealth of talent that is underutilised in this country and offers a kick-start in funding and business development support. In direct response to the low number of women-led start-ups receiving investments and support, Enterprise Ireland decided to increase supports dedicated to women entrepreneurs back in 2012. The results are encouraging as, by 2018, the number of women-led start-ups supported by Enterprise Ireland had trebled and we want to grow these numbers to create an environment where business women have the necessary supports to grow their businesses successfully.”

Michael Culligan, Dublin BIC CEO said: “Dublin BIC empowers entrepreneurs to start and scale by providing a comprehensive range of programmes specifically designed to advance the ambitions of early-stage companies. We are delighted to once again partner with Enterprise Ireland on the delivery of the Innovate Programme, the Enterprise Ireland accelerator designed to meet the needs of female-led start-ups with the ambition to scale internationally. The Innovate Programme enables the entrepreneurs to become ‘Investor Ready’, a crucial step in becoming a High Potential Start-Up company.”

Full details on the Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs, including the application form and eligibility criteria, can be accessed on the Enterprise Ireland website:

The Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs will close for submissions at 3pm on Tuesday 15 July.



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For further information:

Brigid Burke, Press & Media Relations, 01-7272430,

Conor O’Donovan, Head of Communications, 01-7272912,