8 Irish business competitions to win investment


Updated 1 January 2019.

I was prompted to create a post containing Irish business competitions to win investment after the success of my Irish Technology and Irish Business awards article. There can be a fine line between accelerator programmes and competitions, so I’m sticking purely with competitions and as usual it’s a B2B focus.

Of course the ultimate for those with nerves of steel is Dragon’s Den where you can win up to €250k worth of investment. But don’t mix up your numbers or they’re out! Hard to find anything online for the 2018 series and applications usually have to be in around now so I’m not sure if it’s happening this year. (Yes, those being aired now are all repeats.)

  1. InterTrade Ireland Seedcorn  –  November.  Cash prize: €100,000
  2. Web Summit PITCH – November. Prize varies each year. Could be cash or VC funding
  3. NDRC Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition. Cash prizes total €16,000 with entries needing to be submitted by 25 April 2018.  The NDRC also has a “Lift-off” competition for companies that have graduated the recent NDRC accelerator programme where proposals are pitched to the investment community. As far as I can tell the first place value is €30,000. NDRC has a number of different programmes (more accelerator programmes than actual competitions) including Autumn Investor Day supported by Bank of Ireland so contact them directly via www.ndrc.ie.
  4. AIB Startup Academy – Prize package worth €200,000. Cash prize €20,000. (Note 10.4.18. This link no longer works. Could be temporary, or could be that the competition was last year only.)
  5. Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur – This is organised by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEO). The county prize winner gets €15,000 with the regional prize being €20,000 and overall national winner another €20,000. This totals a fabulous €55,000 for the winner with runner up prizes also. (One of my mentees is through to this year’s final. Best of luck to Daniel from UrbanFox.)
  6. Virgin Media Voom Pitch – UK and Ireland. This gives start-ups the chance to pitch to Richard Branson and win a share of £1 million in prizes. Enter between 7th March and 8th May 2018. In 2017, the bus toured from May to November. There’s a nice infographic here with the 2017 numbers.
  7. Business Plan Competition 2018: Open for entries from 6th March to 25th April 18. Winner €10k plus mentoring. Second place €5k, with third place getting €1k.
  8. upSTART  €5k cash prize + mentoring + 1 year co-working space + legal advice. Applications opened 10th April. It’s not entirely clear when they close, but pitch dates are 19-20 June 2018. More information.
  9. UCD VentureLaunch accelerator programme showcase and awards. Winner will recieve incubation space at NovaUCD, however the six competing start-ups are hoping to secure €6.5m in funding to take their companies to the next stage. Learn more.

I suspect there are more, so please do send me details of any Irish business competitions to win investment. You may sponsor one, have entered one or simply just know about one. If you’re further afield, here’s a 2015 Forbes article listing 7 competitions (all except no 5 are still valid but number 3 needs an “en” at the end of the URL). Most of those are European by the way, so it’s worth a look.

First published 2 February 2018

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2 Responses to 8 Irish business competitions to win investment

  1. Donnchadh Hughes 14/02/2018 at 8:01 am #

    Ashling – super post. The LEO National Enterprise Awards is currently (Feb ’18) inviting entries from clients. Organised on a county basis, each county winner will go forward to the National Final in the Mansion House on the 24th May 2018. The Galway competition carries a prize fund of over €4,000 plus awards and cash prizes to be presented locally as follows:
    Overall Winner – Galway: €2,500
    Best New Business – Galway €1,500
    donncha (Business Advisor)


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