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SMEs and Start-Up Business Grants
NOVEMBER 24 2021
As more SMEs are setting up in Ireland, it’s reassuring to know that there are many grants and funds available for new businesses.

This guide will give you an essential list of the grants and funds that your SME may be eligible for.

Local Enterprise Offices:

Local Enterprise Offices across Ireland are the go-to destination for people interested in starting a new business or people already trading, including entrepreneurs, early-stage promoters, start-ups and small businesses looking to expand. 

Business Loan:

Your bank should be one of your first ports of call to discuss funding options, as they have finance packages specifically for SMEs and early-stage growth businesses. Start with your own bank first and ask about what is available – but be sure to shop around with other banks for better rates or offers.

Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland

The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland  was set up to offer loans to SMEs that are up to two percent cheaper than market rates. For example, a five-year SBCI loan of €400,000 will cost an SME between €15,000 and €20,000 less than a typical market-rate loan.

Innovation Vouchers:

If you own or manage an SME that is a limited company, you can apply for Innovation vouchers worth €5,000. The initiative was developed to build links between higher education institutes or public research bodies and small businesses.

Funding for a Feasibility Study:

With a Feasibility study/innovation grant you can get 50% of the costs of your study, ex VAT and worth up to €15,000.

HBAN Umbrella Group:

The Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) recruits new ‘angel investors’ and adds them to its existing network of registered investors. These angel investors are then aligned to particular groups, or syndicates, according to their areas of interest.

New Frontiers Programme:

New Frontiers entrepreneur development programme has limited places available each year for cash and training in areas like business planning, sales, and marketing for businesses.

Enterprise Ireland:

Enterprise Ireland’s portfolio of top startup funds have several fund incentives for start-ups, including:
The Competitive Feasibility Fund for Female Entrepreneurs 
The Competitive Start Fund 
The High Potential Startup Unit 
Graduate Start Fund

For college graduates, there is also the Competitive Start Fund for Irish graduates worth €50,000. 

Google Ventures:

Google Ireland has Google Ventures funding in Europe where $100 million is allocated to local start-ups. 

Crowd Funding:

Crowd Funding is a popular model for raising seed capital for business ventures in Ireland, so look up:

Linked Finance 
Seed Ups 


The Microfinance fund is aimed at all micro-enterprises in Ireland – start-ups and growth firms. Loans of between €5,000 and €25,000 are available and borrowers pay a commercial interest rate. You must be based in the Republic of Ireland, with fewer than 10 employees and a turnover of less than €2 million a year. The loans are also available through Local Enterprise Offices with a reduced rate for LEO clients.

Unemployment Allowances:

If you’ve been unemployed and starting up on your own, there are allowances you can avail of. For example:

Back to Work Enterprise Allowance

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance is available if you have been receiving social welfare for more than twelve months, where you can keep your social welfare payment for two years if you set up a business. In year one it is 100% and in year two it reduces to 75%. 

The Start Your Own Business scheme

The Start Your Own Business Scheme provides relief from income tax for long-term unemployed people who start a new business to help you get up and running.


Funding is widely available, so investigate all options available. Remember, any fund or lender will want to see a well thought-through business idea that is carefully planned and realistic in its expectations. To give yourself every chance of achieving the funding you want, make sure your Business Plan is as good as it can be and present it with confidence.