|Séan O'Sullivan, entrepreneur, Richard Bruton, enterprise minister, and Noel Ruane of Dogpatch Labs, the Irish unit of a US VC firm, in Dublin’s Barrow Street, at the launch of a report on entrepreneurship, Jan 23, 2014.|
Venture Capital: Irish firms raised €285m from
investors in 2013, up 6% on the previous year, according to the annual Irish
Venture Capital Association
[pdf] published today.
In 2012 Irish SMEs raised €269m. However, as activity has begun to slow, there
has been a call for private pension funds to invest in VC funds. In recent
years, the Government has provided about 40% of the funding invested by VC
The Irish Government has invested $300m in US venture capital (VC) funds in
recent years and there has been mainly silence on the performances.
In July 2010,
Brian Cowen, then taoiseach, launched a
planned $500m fund called Innovation Fund Ireland at the New York Stock
Exchange. It failed to generate sufficient interest from private investors and
it appears to have had a quiet burial.
US VC sector has had dismal returns over 20 years and 76% of US tech
companies acquired in 2012 had not raised institutional investment (VC/PE
-private equity) prior to acquisition.
Irish Innovation: Evidence of science policy
In the 3 years 2010-2012,
Irish companies raised €850m in venture capital and the Irish government
provided VC companies with over 40% of that total.
Over 95% of the funds in 2013 were raised by knowledge based companies
covering software, medical devices, pharma and biotech. “Venture capital is
playing a vital role in fuelling the growth of Ireland’s indigenous technology
sector,” commented Mark Horgan, chairman, IVCA. “VC backed companies
tend to grow faster, employ more graduates and generate higher levels of
exports than other indigenous SMEs.”
However, Stephen Keogh, a corporate partner in William Fry, which acted as
legal adviser in over 40 of the funding rounds during the year, expressed
concern that activity levels were beginning to slow.
“Irish VC firms are entering the end of the investment term within their
funds. New capital will need to be raised from the private sector to fund SMEs
into the future.”
Keogh added that Irish pension funds, which are valued at over €80bn,
should consider venture capital investment as a small part of a diversified
“Because of low returns from cash and bonds, pension funds are seeking
alternative investments. Right now, as an asset class, venture capital is
offering a good investment opportunity. IPOs are on the increase and exits
are back on the agenda with Tier 1 global tech firms willing to spend their
cash on acquiring VC backed tech companies.”
Regina Breheny, director general, IVCA added that the Irish venture capital
community continues to be the main source of funding for Irish innovative
SMEs both through direct investment and as the local lead investor for
“In 2013 funds raised from international players was €119m, an increase of
22% on 2012. Since the onset of the credit crunch in 2008, over €650m of
international funds has been leveraged by Irish VCs into indigenous SMEs.”
She added that first round funding was 18% of funds raised compared to 20%
in 2012. “Seed funds supported by the banking sector and EI’s Seed &
Venture Capital Programme of 2006-2012 are close to being fully invested.
These funds will need to be renewed if entrepreneurs are to be supported as
actively as in the last five years.”
Funds Raised: The IVCA VenturePulse survey shows that Irish companies
from investors in 2013, despite the continuing global credit crunch. This
compares with funds raised of €269m in the same period of 2012, an increase
Seed/Early Stage: Total seed funds raised in 2013 is €51.6m (18% of
total funds raised). This
compares to €53.7m (20% of total funds raised) in 2012.
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