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€280k on offer for the island’s most innovative entrepreneurs

By InterTradeIreland, Tuesday, 4th April 2017 | 0 comments
Filed under: Entrepreneur, 2017.

The InterTradeIreland Seedcorn competition launches for 2017, to find upcoming business talent

Early and new start companies across Ireland are encouraged to enter the 15th annual Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition to be in with a chance of competing for a no-equity total cash prize fund of €280,000. At a time where it is competitive to get seed funding, the competition is a great avenue for ambitious start ups to get their new business ideas off the ground. This year’s competition is now open for registration at and businesses are encouraged to submit an entry. Deadline for submissions is 26th May, 2017.

There are nine cash prizes* on offer and entrepreneurs compete against each other regionally before competing at the national final for the ‘Best Overall’ Titles.. As well as the cash prize, participants also benefit from expert mentoring, business plan development, introductions and access to investors, developing pitching skills and additional publicity opportunities.

Between 2011 and 2015, over 66% of companies who won the Seedcorn national finals went on to raise additional funding ranging from €150,000 to €3.1m. All cited Seedcorn as a major factor in their success. During the same period 70% of companies who won at regional stages of the competition but did not win at the national finals, went on to raise funds from €50,000 to €2m, with the majority of the funding being raised from angel investors, syndicates and private equity.

Valitacell, a Dublin biotech firm that provides analytical support for the biopharmaceutical sector, was in operation for just under a year when they were named the overall winner of last year’s competition. Encouraging entrepreneurs to enter Seedcorn, Dr Terry McWade, CEO of Valitacell, said: “Winning the overall prize at Seedcorn 2016 was a tremendous confidence boost for the company. The €100,000 prize allowed us to progress further along the implementation path and achieve a number of key milestones. The publicity and profile from our win has proved very useful and has opened the door for many of the conversations we are currently having. My advice to anyone considering taking part in the competition is to grab the opportunity with both hands and listen to the feedback and sound advice you are given every step of the way.”

He added: “We are now starting our funding round in a very strong position, we have global biopharma companies as customers and we are in revenue with have product on the market.

He added: “We are now starting our funding round in a very strong position, we have global biopharma companies as customers and we are in revenue with product on the market. Skills learnt throughout the Seedcorn completion will stand to us through the funding round process.”

Speaking at the launch of the 2017 competition, Connor Sweeney of InterTradeIreland said: “The aim of this competition is to support exciting Irish start-ups by giving them the tools for success. Our total cash-prize fund of €280,000 is equity free, which is extremely rare and offers an exciting opportunity for winners to reach their full potential. All entrants have something to gain, through skills development, experience and networking with other businesses and potential investors. The competition is extremely easy to enter and is shown to have produced extremely positive results for entrants in the past. I am sure that 2017 will be no different.”

He added: “Every year, entrants come from a huge range of sectors and categories, from manufacturing to services, to technology, to retail, to arts, health and education. Their growth and success means increased jobs and investment for the communities in which they are based. Many of the companies who took part in the competition between 2011 and 2015 saw their staff numbers grow in the aftermath, with many reporting on average a 50% increase in staff numbers. That level of success and growth is a real tribute to all involved in the competition.”

Over the coming weeks, InterTradeIreland will host a series of free workshops around the country designed to guide those considering entering this year’s competition, including providing advice on business plans, preparation of video clips and presentation slide decks. More information on the workshops can be found on the InterTradeIreland website.

You can follow all the action throughout the 2017 competition by searching for and using #ITIseedcorn and following @iti_seedcorn.

About the competition

InterTradeIreland’s Seedcorn Competition is the largest investor readiness competition for early stage/high growth companies in any sector on any part of the island. The competition, aimed at companies that have a new equity funding requirement, has a record total cash prize fund of €280,000.

Businesses can enter in one of the two categories; new start or early stage and there are four regions; Northern Ireland, Dublin (City & County), Munster, and Connacht & Leinster (including counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan).

Companies submit their application along with a visual representation of the business idea. Shortlisted companies are invited to submit a full business plan and, if successful, are invited to deliver an investment pitch in front of the judging panel comprising of venture capitalists, business angels and some of the island’s leading industry experts and entrepreneurs.

Throughout each stage of the competition, companies will be judged on various criteria including financial performance, company milestones and achievements, future strategy for the business, the management team in place and the quality of the pitch to the judging panel. Feedback is provided to companies at each stage of the competition process.

Who can enter?

The competition is open to independent incorporated ventures in Ireland or Northern Ireland in the Seed, Start-up or Early Stage of business development and ideally targeting international markets. The competition is for individuals or venture teams who have created, manage and own such ventures. The promoters/founder entrepreneurs are to have played a major role in conceiving the venture, continuing to have management roles and to own significant equity. Ventures which have already raised external equity in excess of €1m (or sterling equivalent) are not eligible.


New Start Company

For companies under five years old at 26 May 2017 and who are seeking to raise new equity of between €50,000 and €299,999.

Early Stage Company

For companies under five years old at 26 May 2017 and who are seeking to raise in excess of €300,000.

Visit the Seedcorn website for full information.

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