01 Mar, 2022

Supporting start-ups to secure CSF investment

The Competitive Start-Up Fund (CSF) is an Enterprise Ireland fund designed to help start-ups reach key commercial and technical milestones and ultimately grow as innovative international companies through a €50,000 investment for a 10% shareholding. The latest round of funding is now open for applications.

ifac have supported many early-stage companies in securing investment from Enterprise Ireland through CSF.  Patrick Black, Food & AgriBusiness Consultant takes a closer look at the common questions that entrepreneurs raise when applying for CSF investment and the steps involved in making a successful application. 

Is my company eligible?

The company making the application must be:

  • Pre-trading or recently commenced trading and does not have revenues in excess of €100,000 in the current financial year to date or in any previous financial year

  • The company must be less than 3 years old from date of incorporation

  • Must be capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising sales of €1m within 3 years;

This call is open to all sectors, with a particular focus on Agtech, Food and Drink and start-ups with solutions to address challenges and opportunities regarding Climate Action with an emphasis on decarbonisation.

How much equity do I have to sacrifice?

Enterprise Ireland will invest €50,000 for a 10% shareholding in the company. This equity will be provided in the form of ordinary shares.

How do I apply?

Applications must be completed via the online Enterprise Ireland portal. It can be accessed here. If you don’t have an account already you can create one. The CSF operates on an open call basis. The deadline or the current window is Tuesday, March 8th at 15:00.

What do I need to apply?

In order to submit a full application, you will require:

  • A completed online application form 

  • A 2-minute video pitch which must be submitted through the online portal

  • It is possible to do practice runs but your final version is submitted, so take your time! 

  • Financial projections 

How can I improve my chances of investment?

Invest time in completing the application form
  • The online application form is the first step in the process, and it is vital that you spend time crafting a compelling story to allow you to progress to the next stage in the process.

Have a clear business model
  • If your business model is ambiguous and there is no clear route to market strategy or value proposition, Enterprise Ireland, like any investor, will struggle to see growth.

Set realistic milestones
  • As part of the application process, you will need to set commercial and technical milestones that you will be responsible for. Ensure they are ambitious enough to show a hunger for growth while also being realistic.

Financial projections
  • Working with an accountant to draft financial projections that will strengthen your application and give you a chance to consider the costs involved in growing your business.

Pitching your idea
  • If your application is accepted, you will be invited to present your idea to an Enterprise Ireland panel. Working with an advisor to develop a pitch deck that tells your story succulently and displays the market opportunity effectively is vital.

Understanding investor needs
  • Enterprise Ireland clearly outline the grading criteria for CSF applications. Keep the below in mind when completing your application:

Likelihood of developing into a HPSU (company with at least 10 employees and €1million revenue within 3 years)20%
Product/Service & Market Opportunity20%
Business Model20%
Founders / Team10%
Ability to deliver Key Commercial and Technical milestones over course of business plan propose20%

What should I watch out for?

  • You must be in a limited company or intend to form a limited company to secure CSF funding 

  • All intellectual property must be housed within the company or legally assigned to the company prior to Enterprise Ireland investment 

  • Enterprise Ireland will require quarterly management accounts and mid-term spend reports in order to draw down the second €25,000 tranche

  • If successful, a new cash investment of €5,000 must be secured separate to the Enterprise Ireland investment 

  • Work closely with your accountant and solicitor to ensure all legal and financial documentation is completed and filed correctly for the investment

Case Study: How ifac have helped clients access CSF – Cian Gallagher, Director AAT

AAT are an Agtech company that uses earth observation platforms and processing technology to give their clients a unique insight into their environment and capture specific forms of high level data. ifac helped the founder Cian Gallagher access CSF.

“In 2018, I became an ifac client and the first project we worked on was my CSF application. Working with the Food and AgriBusiness team transformed my application and I ultimately succeeded in securing Enterprise Ireland investment at the end of 2018. Following the investment, ifac were on hand to assist with the drawdown process, and ongoing filing requirements with Enterprise Ireland like management accounts and progress reports.”

If you are a in the process of completing your application or plan on applying,  get in touch with us for an initial call to see where we can assist you on your funding journey. 

Patrick Black, ifac Food and Agribusiness Consultant at patrickblack@ifac.ie