19/08/2011

All Ireland 'Seedcorn' Business Bid Hots-up

Businesses hoping to be in with a chance of winning their share of a €280,000 cash investment in this year's InterTradeIreland All-Island Seedcorn Business Competition have only got a month left to submit their entries.

Liam Nellis, InterTradeIreland Chief Executive, is encouraging local companies to take part: "Seedcorn is the largest business competition of its kind across the island and provides a real opportunity for businesses to receive a major cash boost at a time when many are finding access to funding difficult.

"It also gives successful applicants access to an extensive business and investment community that will help boost their profile and create potential investment opportunities," he said.

The Seedcorn competition mirrors the real-life investment process. Companies submit their business plan, which is assessed and if shortlisted, are invited to deliver an investment pitch in front of the judging panel comprising venture capitalists, business angels and some of the island's leading industry experts.

"The judges are looking for the same elements as a potential investor including high growth projections, the optimum risk/reward profile, a strong management team and the ability to exit."

The winners of Best High Growth Company and Best Emerging Company titles stand to win €100,000 and €50,000 respectively. There are also regional prizes of €20,000 and one Best Spinout prize of €10,000.

Liam continued: "Whilst the cash prize is of course an incentive for businesses to enter, there is so much more on offer here. Previous finalists have gone on to leverage more than £125 million worth of equity since taking part in the competition so there are major long-term benefits associated with being part of this process.

"Because of the format of the competition, budding entrepreneurs have the opportunity to develop their business idea, improve their business plan, gain exposure to investors and increase their profile, allowing them to become investor ready," added Liam.

Within 12 months of winning the Best High Growth Company title in 2009, Belfast based Sophia Search secured the largest ever Business Angel syndicate investment in Northern Ireland and recently opened a new office in Silicon Valley.

Conal Loughrey, software engineering manager, from Sophia, commented: "InterTradeIreland, through its Seedcorn competition introduced us to many other synergistic companies who, like us, were on the cusp of taking their business to the next level.

"Seedcorn came at a critical time for us giving us extra credibility - something that can be hard to find in the early days. This proved vital when dealing with our investors and customers and helped us to secure the funding we needed to help the company progress and expand into the US market."

The final date for receipt of completed business plans is Friday 16th September at 1pm. Regional winners will be announced in mid November before going on to compete in the all-island grand final which takes place on the 30th November in the Burlington Hotel, Dublin.

"Just being shortlisted for a Seedcorn award can boost the profile of a business and signal to customers and potential investors that your company is one to watch, so I would encourage local entrepreneurs who meet the criteria to submit their entries before the closing date to take advantage of this unique opportunity," Liam Nellis concluded.

Further information about the competition can be found at www.intertradeireland.com/seedcorn

(BMcC/GK)

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