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Ireland looks to lure Aussie start-up with incubator program

Tuesday, 20 November 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

The Irish Government is offering an Australian start-up the chance to participate in prestigious incubator program LaunchPad, after launching a venture capital fund for offshore companies.


In a bid to lure innovative companies to Ireland, the Irish Government is offering one Australian start-up the chance to win a place at LaunchPad, regarded as one of Europe’s top incubators.


The Australia-wide competition, which is open to all start-ups and entrepreneurs, will have a strong focus on the technology and life sciences sectors.


LaunchPad, which is based in Dublin, provides pre-seed investment and hands-on mentoring.


In addition, the successful start-up will be offered office space for up to two people at the Guinness Enterprise Centre, Ireland’s largest start-up incubator centre.


Ireland has become the unlikely location of choice for start-ups seeking to target the US and European markets, with an ecosystem that includes Google, Facebook, Zynga and LinkedIn.


One of the reasons for this is Ireland’s enviable tax rate (12.5%). As a result, it’s estimated that running a company in Ireland is at least 30% cheaper than running a company in Australia.


Individuals and companies who are interested in the competition can register to participate in a series of free webinars hosted by Ireland’s start-up agency Enterprise Ireland.


The webinars, which feature entrepreneurs who have successfully founded companies in Ireland, kick off today and run until Thursday. The closing date for competition entries is December 10.


The news comes on the back of a separate announcement by the Irish Government, which has launched a $12.3 million venture capital fund for offshore companies willing to relocate.


The fund is aimed at companies in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.


“We want to give Australian start-ups an alternative to Silicon Valley,” Paul Burfield, the Sydney-based director of Enterprise Ireland, told The Australian Financial Review.


Ireland also benefits from the arrangement. Investments made by Enterprise Ireland, which takes a maximum 10% stake in any venture, returned 150 million euros to the country last year.


Start-ups looking to take advantage of the fund are required to create 10 jobs and achieve one million euros in sales within four years.


This isn’t the Irish Government’s first attempt to boost employment. Earlier this year, it launched the Immigrant Investor Program and the Start-up Entrepreneur Program.


The first program requires applicants to invest between 400,000 and two million euros, depending on the level and duration of financial commitment.


The second program aims to foster new enterprises, for which the applicant has to have financial backing of no less than 70,000 euros.


Approved participants and their immediate family are allowed to enter Ireland on multi-entry visas and remain there for two years.