What can Enterprise Ireland do to help young entrepreneurs?

Find out how Enterprise Ireland can help you to develop your business or business idea.

Written by spunout


If you have your own business or even a business idea, Enterprise Ireland might be able to offer you support.

How can Enterprise Ireland help young entrepreneurs?

Enterprise Ireland is the national organisation for supporting Irish-owned business that export abroad. It aims to help Irish companies to be successful in the global market. If you are a young person with an existing business or a strong business idea, there are many Enterprise Ireland supports you can apply for. In this article:

Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur

Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) is a yearly competition for people between the ages of 18 and 35. It is run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) with the support of the Department of Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland. To enter, you need to have an established business, a start-up or a business idea. You don’t need any special qualifications or training and can be based in any part of Ireland.

Up to 450 entrants will be invited by the Local Enterprise Offices to attend free regional ‘Entrepreneur Bootcamps’ to help them develop their business and business ideas. The top entries from each of the 31 Local Enterprise Office areas will receive money to invest in their business. 

There are three competition categories:

  • Best Business Idea for those who haven’t started trading yet
  • Best Start-up for those trading for less than 18 months
  • Best Established Business for those trading for over 18 months.

To find out more about the programme and to apply, see the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur website.

Student Entrepreneur Awards

If you are a third level student and you think you have a good business idea, the Student Entrepreneur Awards could be an excellent opportunity for you. You must be a full-time student to apply but you can be studying in any area and at any level. It is possible to enter on your own or as part of a team.

The winner of the yearly competition will win a cash prize of €10,000, as well as expert advice and assistance to help them to build their business. To enter, you will need to send in a video that explains your business idea. It should be short and memorable to get the judges’ attention. If the judges like your video, you will be invited to send in a business plan. This should show that your idea is well thought out, properly researched and capable of succeeding.

Academic mentors are available to help you with your plan before you send it in. Brainstorming sessions are also held in third level institutions across the country to help you prepare your entry.

The top ten entries will be invited to present their idea to the judging panel in a two-day ceremony to pick an overall winner. To find out more about the awards and to enter, see the Student Entrepreneur Awards website.

New Frontiers Programme

New Frontiers is Ireland’s national entrepreneur development programme. It is designed to help people with innovative business ideas to establish and run their own companies. To do this, New Frontiers offers many supports including workshops, personalised one-to-one mentoring, financial support and co-working space.

New Frontiers is delivered on behalf of Enterprise Ireland by Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities in 17 locations across Ireland.

The New Frontiers programme is for entrepreneurs over 18 who are based in Ireland. The programme is open to applicants who want to set up a business in one of a range of sectors including:

  • Food and consumer products
  • Information and communication technology
  • Engineering and electronics
  • Medical devices
  • Biotechnology
  • Pharma
  • Digital media
  • Cleantech/renewable energy
  • Eligible internationally traded services

If you are interested in applying, you must first register your interest with the Programme Manager at your chosen location using the New Frontiers online form. You can apply to more than one location at a time. The closing date for applications varies depending on what location you are applying to. See all deadlines for applications to the New Frontiers programme.

Mentor Grants

Enterprise Ireland runs a Mentor Grant system to allow certain new start-ups and entrepreneurs to hire the services of a recognised expert in their area of business. These experts help new entrepreneurs to overcome challenges which may be holding their companies back. Once a mentor is assigned to you, they will visit your company up to ten times over a three to 12 month period.

You can apply for the grant if your business is a small or medium-sized enterprise employing between 10 and 249 people. You must also be based in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sectors. Find out more about the Mentor Grant.

Innovation Vouchers

If you are running your own business, the Innovation Vouchers scheme may help you to take your business to the next level. Enterprise Ireland offers these vouchers to small and medium-sized businesses interested in partnering with “registered knowledge providers” such as colleges, institutes and public research bodies. Partnering with these experts can help you to develop new products and services in your business. Find out more about Innovation Vouchers.

If you want to find out more about setting up your own business, you might be interested in these articles:

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.


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