Start-up firms do battle for funding

Ambitious start-up firms from across Northern Ireland are set to battle it out for a share of €280,000.

Fledgling companies are being invited to enter InterTradeIreland‘s annual Seedcorn investor readiness competition.

The cross-border business body is running the contest for an 11th year having already support almost 1,700 firms through the process.

During that time companies that reached regional final level have gone on to raise more than €165 million of new equity.

The competition aims to help fledgling businesses ‘investor ready’ and secure new equity to allow them to compete on the global stage.

This year, rather than requiring the submission a full and detailed business plan, entry will be broken down into various stages starting with an online application along with a visual representation of the business idea.

Seedcorn project manager Connor Sweeney said it “is more than just a competition”.

“It mimics the real-life investment process and gives companies a valuable opportunity to refine their business plan, gain exposure to investors and improve their business concept,” he said.

Following scoring of all business plans, the top three ‘new start’ and the top three ‘early stage’ companies in each of the four regions will be invited to present at their regional final.

They must deliver a pitch in front of a judging panel comprising venture capitalists, business angels and some of the island’s leading industry experts

Last year, Belfast company Catagen, “Our success has given us a real boost to our profile locally as the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn brand is so well-respected and winning the competition certainly has opened doors for us,” he said

This year’s competition is open to incorporated entities on the island of Ireland who are less than five-years-old at June 28.

There are two categories for the 2013 competition – new start companies, which are deemed to be those who are seeking to raise between €50,000 and €299,999 and early stage companies, deemed to be those who are seeking to raise in excess of €300,000.

Free workshops to guide those considering entering the competition will take place in Belfast, Derry and Newry.

The closing date for applications is June 28 while shortlisted companies will be invited to submit full business plans by September 11.

Regional winners will be announced in November before the all-island final in Dublin on November 27.