What kind of agencies offer support to SMEs?

There are a number of different agencies which support SMEs in Ireland. Each agency has a different role and
focuses on businesses of different size, potential or area of focus. Although the business support system is
largely funded and organized through central government there are a series of local offices which provide the
support to local businesses.

There is a range of supports for enterprise of all kinds in Ireland. These include access to finance, management
development, mentoring supports, business development programmes, market supports and trade promotion.

Is there one agency which is the first place for businesses to go?

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs, https://www.localenterprise.ie/ ) are the ‘first-stop-shop’ state support
service for micro and small businesses in each local area. The LEOs provide advice and direction, covering all
government supports and requirements, to anyone who wishes to start or expand a business. The LEOs can
also provide funding for projects that meet certain criteria (generally with regard to export potential) and
other non-financial supports such as training and mentoring.

Companies with clear high growth potential can be fast-tracked to the next level of support available from
Enterprise Ireland (https://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/ )which works in partnership with Irish enterprises
to help them start, grow, innovate and win export sales in global markets. They provide funding and supports
for companies – from entrepreneurs with business propositions for a high potential start-up through to large
companies expanding their activities, improving efficiency and growing international sales.

Microfinance Ireland provides support in the form of loans for up to €25,000, available to microenterprises
employing less than 10 people, with viable business propositions, that do not meet the conventional risk
criteria applied by banks.

There are also a variety of state backed equity investment funds including the WDC SME investment fund
(http://www.wdc.ie/wdc-investment-fund/sme-investment-fund/ )which operates in Ireland’s Western
Region.

Supports are also available for businesses from LEADER under the National Rural Development Programme
2014-2020 (http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/ruralenvironment/ruraldevelopmentprogrammerdp2014-2020/).
LEADER is implemented at a local area through the Local Development Strategy (LDS) which outlines a range of
Actions which will be delivered under three main themes one of which is Rural Environment which includes the
development of renewable energy.

Is it clear to the SME where they should go for support?

An online tool which sets out the variety of supports available to all enterprises across all sectors is embedded
or linked to over 30 Government websites including Department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation website
and the websites of the Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland.
http://www.supportingsmes.ie/businessdetails.aspx

Are business supports restricted to certain types of business, or enhanced for certain types of SMEs (e.g. only available for manufacturing or for exporters)?

There is a particular focus on manufacturing and on businesses with export potential.

Are there special supports for RE businesses?

There are specific research and development grants available from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland
(SEAI) but there is there is little direct support specifically for renewable energy businesses in Ireland (although
there are a number of demand and supply side supports aimed at stimulating the market (see here link to
WP3.1 for more information).

Business supports available in the Republic of Ireland are described in more detail in the coming pages under
the following themes:
• Financial Support (grants, loans, equity investment)
• Taxation or welfare supports or concessions for businesses
• Soft supports e.g. mentoring, training, specialist advice, networks
• Research and Development supports
• Social and Community supports (focused on not for profit) Save & Exit
• Other- e.g. Incubation space or office space

Would you like to know more?

Please get in contact by emailing us at info@grebeproject.eu