Funding for early stage companies hit an all-time high in Ireland early this year

Investment in startups and SMEs over the first quarter was worth €237 million.

By Paul O'Donoghue Reporter, Fora

YOUNG COMPANIES BASED in Ireland received a record amount of funding in the first three months of the year, more than doubling the investment raised during the same period in 2015.

The latest Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA) VenturePulse survey showed €237 million was raised during the quarter by startups and high-tech SMEs with a significant footprint in the country.

The total compared to only €107 million raised in the last three months of 2015, and €120 million in the first quarter last year.

Several large funding efforts dominated the figures, including the Australian IPO of medical software outfit Oneview Healthcare. The Dublin-headquarter company raised around €40 million when it went public on St Patrick’s Day.

Source: IVCA

The IVCA hasn’t previously included IPO figures in the survey, however public listings for Irish high-tech firms have been few and far between.

The organisation’s chairman, Brian Caulfield, said that Oneview’s raise reflects the increasing globalisation of Irish businesses.

“About half the funds came through international syndicates which shows an encouraging and continuing strong global appetite for the Irish tech sector,” he said.

Life sciences companies accounted for €100 million of the total, while the software, fintech and hardware sectors were the next-largest recipients.

Source: IVCA

In a further positive sign, first-round seed funding more than doubled to nearly €25 million year-on-year.

The early stage investment had been sliding consistently since 2010 and only €44 million was supplied in seed investment for all of 2015, according to the IVCA’s figures.

Some major from the quarter include: 

  • Nearly €24 million in investment for Dublin-based but UK- and Germany focused student lender Future Finance
  • €13.4 million raised by airborne infection control outfit Novaerus
  • €8 million for peer-to-peer foreign exchange company CurrencyFair

It’s worth noting that the IVCA includes investments in companies that, while domiciled in Ireland, have the bulk of their operations offshore.

The second-largest funding round in the list was €36 million for Iterum Therapeutics, which has its headquarters in Dublin but is run from the US.

Another significant funding recipient in the list, 4tech, which took nearly €26 million in investment, is incorporated in the US but has operations in Galway.

IVCA director-general Regina Breheny said the figures showed the importance of “close international relationships” as global players had invested just under half of the total funds raised in the first quarter.

“Early stage companies have benefited from support from Irish venture capitalists and private investors such as angels.

“While seed funds supported by Enterprise Ireland are being renewed, it will take some months yet to get these up and running.”

Additional reporting Peter Bodkin