Entrepreneurs from Northern Ireland could get a huge cash boost for their business, thanks to a total prize fund of €280,000 on offer from InterTradeIreland’s 16th Seedcorn Business Competition 2018.
The competition is the largest on the island in terms of the prize fund available and gives fledgling firms a cash injection of up to €100,000 to help their business grow and develop. Seed finance can be notoriously hard to attract and this competition is an opportunity for ambitious start-ups to get their new ideas off the ground.
As well as offering fantastic cash incentives, Seedcorn provides invaluable support and advice from top investment experts and the competition mimics a real venture capital investment process which builds the capacity and experience of all those participating.
Competition elements include business plan submission, with valuable, constructive feedback given from entrepreneurs, investors and businesspeople.
Other market ready aspects of the competition include the development of the business idea, making the concept ‘investor-ready’, gaining exposure to venture capitalists, other investors and senior business leaders, and increasing the credibility and profile of the business involved.
Speaking about the competition, Ken Nelson, Chairman of InterTradeIreland said: “The overall winner will take home a €100,000 cash injection to support the growth of their business, which will go a long way towards realising ambitious expansion goals. However, Seedcorn is about so much more than just financial support. Participants benefit in a host of other ways, receiving invaluable guidance, tips and advice from our experts, investors and other entrepreneurs, as well as refining business plans and pitch proposals to better demonstrate their offering to potential investors. Since its inception in 2003, companies who have gone through Seedcorn have raised in excess of €229m; last year alone, in excess of €10m was raised.”
Last year’s overall winner was Phion Therapeutics from Belfast which sells services (contract research) and licences (right-to-use-its technology for pharmaceutical development and therapeutic applications).
Phion Theraputics Founder Professor Helen McCarthy explained: “The best thing for us about Seedcorn Competition was that it taught us to think big from the start. I would encourage companies to be ambitious, enter with an open mind and be prepared to implement suggested refinements.
“We knew our technology inside out, but the process helped us develop a clearer business plan and understand what investors want from a start-up. It is a very intensive few months, but the work has to be done anyway and the competition is structured in such a way that, even if you aren’t a finalist, participants are left in a much stronger position.
“Since our win, we have had interest from investors across the globe, from America to Japan. The prize money of €100,000 enabled us to take on another employee, attend important conferences attended by potential customers where we implemented full marketing programmes. This strategy worked much better for us than cold calling as, after we presented our technology at these, we had a queue of major players lining up to talk to us. We have hit all our Seedcorn milestones and we are now market ready and excited about what the future has in store for us.”
This year’s competition is now open for registration at www.intertradeireland.com/seedcorn and businesses are encouraged to submit an entry. Deadline for submissions is 1 June 2018.
You can follow all the action throughout the 2018 competition by searching for and using #ITIseedcorn and following @iti_seedcorn