€280k up for grabs for north’s fledgling firms

SOME of the north’s top performing young firms are set to battle it out for a share of a €280,000 prize fund – thanks to one of the island’s biggest business competitions.

InterTradeIreland has launched its annual all-island Seedcorn competition – seeking out seed and early stage firms based in the north.

After submitting successful business plans, the young companies will then get the chance to deliver their investment pitches in front of an experienced judging panel.

Among the prizes on offer, the firm awarded with best growth will walk away with a sizeable €100,000 worth of investment.

Young businesses looking to brush up on their pitching skills can also avail of a series of free workshops – designed to guide those entering the competition – held at Belfast, Derry and Newry throughout May and June.

Brendan Butler of InterTradeIreland said the competition “mirrored the real-life investment process” – allowing businesses to develop “key skills” that will “increase their chances of securing investment and ultimately grow their business”.

“Seedcorn provides an exciting opportunity for start-up businesses and those on the cusp of expansion or diversification to increase their chances of securing investment,” he said.

“Indeed previous finalists of the competition have gone on to secure almost £120 million worth of equity since taking part, so it can be highly beneficial for local companies as well as having a positive effect on the local economy.

“We have had some fantastic success stories from Northern Ireland in the past and are encouraging local companies to become involved in this year’s competition.”

Regional winners of the competition will also receive an award of €20,000.

As a regional finalist last year, Dr Hugh Cormican of Lisburn-based Cirdan Imaging said the prize money and involvement with the competition had benefited the firm enormously.

“Following Seedcorn, we were able to use the enhanced business plan that we developed to raise €660,000 in capital investment,” he said.

For more information on how to enter, companies can visit the website at www.intertradeireland.com/seedcorn

Regional winners will be announced in November before competing in the all-island grand final taking place on November 28 at Titanic Belfast.