Many family businesses are unsure where to start when it comes to applying for funding and grants. While advice is available from multiple agencies, it takes time to identify relevant schemes and the process of applying for funding can be complex.

Set out below are some options that may be relevant depending on your business and/or sector. While this list is up to date at the time of writing, it is not comprehensive and details may change. We encourage you to contact our family business team for up to date information and advice.

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland supports the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets by providing funding, grants and assistance to help with market research and internationalisation, management team development, productivity improvement, research and development, and innovation. Examples of the assistance currently available include:

  • Agile Innovation Fund: This targets companies who are new to R&D. It supports the development of new or substantially improved products, services or processes, where the total project cost is less than €300,000.

  • Strategic Consultancy Grant:  A manufacturing or internationally traded services SME company employing 10-249 people can avail of up to 50% of the costs incurred in hiring a consultant to a maximum grant amount of €35,000.To be eligible, projects must be of strategic significance to the company.

  • Market Discovery Fund: Companies can access funding of up to €150,000 to help them identify new markets and expand their global footprint.

  • Innovation Voucher: This is open to small and medium sized companies registered in the Republic of Ireland who satisfy certain criteria and are Enterprise Ireland clients. The voucher, which is worth €5,000, can be used to explore a business opportunity with a registered knowledge provider such as a higher education institution or a registered public body.

Local Enterprise Offices

Local Enterprise Offices, which are located around the country, provide various types of funding and grants for businesses employing up to 10 people. They focus on businesses with potential for growth and job creation. Examples of the financial supports available include:

  • Trading Online Voucher Scheme: This helps small businesses to sell their products or services online. Subject to certain criteria, funding of up to €2,500 is available for costs incurred in areas like digital marketing, developing e-commerce websites and app development.

  • Business Expansion Grants: This grant targets growth-focused businesses with potential to trade internationally. Eligible businesses include sole traders, partnerships or limited companies with up to 10 employees. The maximum grant available to qualifying businesses is up to 50% of the investment cost or €150,000 whichever is the lesser.

  • Feasibility Study Grants: This grant supports eligible businesses who want to research market demand for their product or service. The grant is calculated as the lesser of  a percentage of the research costs incurred (which varies depending on region) or €15,000. Permitted expenditure includes consultancy expertise to assist with innovation.

  • Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters (TAME): This grant enables eligible businesses with up to 10 employees to research and develop new market opportunities. The grant covers 50% of eligible costs up to €2,500 (net of vat) in any calendar year.

Microfinance Ireland
  • Small businesses and start-ups may be able to obtain loans of up to €25,000 from  Microfinance Ireland.

Brexit

Government and industry groups also provide assistance to help businesses cope with the impact of Brexit. Examples include:

  • SBCI supports a Brexit Loan Scheme which provides working capital loans for eligible businesses. Under this scheme, loans of €25,000 up to €1.5 million are available through AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank for terms of up to three years at a maximum interest rate of 4%.

  • Microfinance Ireland provides a Brexit Business Loan of up to €25,000 for eligible businesses whose turnover has fallen (or is likely to fall) by 15% or more as a result of Brexit. Loans range from six months to three years.

  • InterTradeIreland provides a Brexit Planning Voucher worth up to £2000/€2000 to enable companies to get professional advice on Brexit and a Brexit Implementation Voucher worth up to up £5,000/ €5,625 (inclusive of VAT) to help businesses implement critical changes in response to Brexit.

  • Enterprise Ireland has a number of Brexit supports including a Ready for Customs Grant which provides up to €9,000 is for each new full-time employee engaged in customs work. Other supports include an Evolve Strategic Planning Grant which provides up to €5,000 or 50% of the total cost of obtaining professional advice on how to respond to the new trading environment with the UK.

Covid-19 business recovery

Along with the Government’s Wage Subsidy Schemes, which we previously discussed on this website, there are various other supports available to help businesses cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. These include sector specific assistance in areas like agriculture, food and tourism. For up to date information on these schemes, please contact a member of our team.

Borrowing

Family businesses are often conservative when it comes to borrowing, preferring to fund growth from working capital or reserves. However, when planning to borrow, banks are usually front of mind although alternative funding sources such as venture capital, private equity, peer-to-peer finance and invoice discounting are also worth considering. Generally, lenders and investors require applicants to produce a formal business plan along with several years’ financial accounts and projected future income.

Tax incentives

In addition to the various funding and grants outlined above, family businesses may be able to reduce their tax bill by availing of certain reliefs. This will increase the funds available for investment in the business. Examples of relevant reliefs include:

  • Employment Investment Incentive (EII): This is a tax relief that encourages individuals to provide equity based finance to trading companies.

  • Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA): This can be claimed for eligible expenditure on certain energy efficient equipment.

  • R&D Tax Credit: This can be claimed on qualifying research and development expenditure and is used to reduce a company’s Corporation Tax.

Details of these, and other relevant tax reliefs, are available from our tax team.

Find the right funding and grants for your family business

As mentioned at the outset of this article, the various funding and grants listed above represent just some of the supports that may be available to your family business. Comprehensive information and advice on your eligibility for these, and other relevant schemes, is available from our family business team.