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Calling Start-Ups to Become Investor Ready and Compete for €280k Cash Prize Fund

InterTradeIreland is calling on new start-ups and early stage companies to enter the island’s largest business competition, the InterTradeIreland all-island Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition. The new look competition, which has a cash prize fund of €280,000 with no equity stake, aims to transform equity raising businesses into first-class investor ready companies. Now in its 11th year, the competition has supported 1,645 enterprising companies, with the companies that have made it through to the regional finals successfully raising €165m in new funds. It is considered among the investment and business communities in Ireland as one of the most important barometers for new and emerging companies.

The Seedcorn competition imitates the real-life investment process and gives companies a valuable opportunity to put their business idea to the test and ensure that it is investor- ready and stands up to external scrutiny. Following on from research carried out with key stakeholders, the competition has introduced new categories; ‘New Start’ and ‘Early Stage’, defined by the level of equity they require. The competition also sees the introduction, for the first time this year, of a short video clip or slide deck presentation entry as part of the initial simplified application process. Companies who apply will be provided with independent feedback at every stage of the competition and this will enable them to improve their investor-readiness.

Initial applications will be shortlisted by a selection panel with successful companies being invited to submit their full business plan. Companies will have the opportunity to attend one of a number of business planning workshops to assist in the preparation prior to submission. Companies must submit their business plan by 11th September 2013 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 entrepreneurs and business experts. Prior to attending regional finals, each company will be invited to attend an intensive one day investment pitch master class to help polish their presentation skills. Importantly, Seedcorn is the only business competition of its type that does not seek equity from the winning companies, the awards are entirely cash.

Connor Sweeney, Seedcorn project manager for InterTradeIreland said: “The funding and investment landscape is ever-changing and as a result the competition has been adapted this year in order to reflect the current landscape that SMEs are working in. To accurately reflect the benefits of the competition to SMEs that enter, we have renamed it the ‘InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition’. InterTradeIreland’s aim is to educate and assist companies to become investor ready allowing them to compete on the global stage, as well as having a positive effect on the local economy. This year we hope to encourage even more young companies that are looking to raise finance to enter the Seedcorn competition and avail of its many free workshops and master classes. The Seedcorn Investor Readiness competition is an opportunity for young companies not only to compete for financial reward, but also to robustly test their business plan and gain valuable insight and expertise from some of the island’s leading entrepreneurs.”

One of last year’s overall winners Dr. Antonio Ruzzelli, CEO and co-founder, Wattics Ltd said: “Having the opportunity to put our business proposition to the test through the Seedcorn competition was invaluable for us. The judging process at the regional and all island finals forced us to refine our business plan and our pitch, greatly improving our offering and making us more ‘investor ready’. Since our win last year, we have secured a number of key customers in Ireland, the UK, Europe and South Africa . Our next focus is to distribute our software solution worldwide through direct sales and indirect partnerships with key players in the energy market. I would encourage any company that is starting up and going through the investment process to get involved with the Seedcorn competition.”

Belfast company, Catagen Ltd was the other overall 2012 winner. Other previous Seedcorn finalists have included companies in sectors including technology, medical devices, online companies, equine healthcare solutions, consumer products and green tech solutions, have gone on to become highly successful indigenous companies.

Companies can get involved with Seedcorn and hear from previous winners by registering at www.intertradeireland.com/seedcorn and by following the competition on Twitter (ITI_seedcorn) or on LinkedIn (Seedcorn Network) where they can get valuable information and advice from experts.

The final date for receipt of initial completed application forms and visual representations is Friday 28th June but companies must first register their interest in entering at www.intertradeireland.com/seedcorn.

Regional winners will be announced in mid November before going on to compete in the all-island grand final which takes place in Dublin on the 27th November 2013.

InterTradeIreland will host a series of free workshops designed to guide those considering entering the competition, including providing advice on preparation of video clips, presentation slide decks and business plans. These will take place in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Sligo, Limerick, Letterkenny, Dundalk, Waterford, Tralee, Carlow, Birr and Ennis. More information on the workshops can be found at the Seedcorn website.

Source: Intertrade Ireland - Calling Start-Ups to Become Investor Ready and Compete for €280k Cash Prize Fund