Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) – Financial Supports

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Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) – Financial Supports

Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) offer various financial supports tailored to aid in the establishment and expansion of enterprises. These include limited companies, individuals/sole traders, cooperatives, and partnerships with up to ten employees. In specific cases, businesses with ten employees or more may also qualify based on certain criteria. These include: 

Feasibility Study Grant:

Feasibility Study Grants aim to support businesses in researching market demand and sustainability of a product or service. This includes assistance for innovation, consultancy, expertise hiring, and prototype development. In the S&E Region, the grant covers up to 50% of the investment or €15,000, whichever is lower. In the Border Midland Western Region, it covers up to 60% or €15,000, whichever is lower. 

Eligible expenses may include market research, consultancy costs, technical development/prototype/innovation, salary/labour for research, and miscellaneous costs. 

To apply, businesses or individuals must intend to explore the feasibility of a manufacturing or internationally traded service sector business. The enterprise must have fewer than 10 employees, operate commercially, be registered within the geographic location of the Local Enterprise Office, and demonstrate a market for the product/service. 

Priming Grant:

The Priming Grant is designed for micro-enterprises in their initial 18 months of operation. It is available to sole traders, partnerships, or limited companies that meet specific criteria, such as having fewer than 10 employees and operating within the jurisdiction of the Local Enterprise Office. The enterprise must be commercially oriented, demonstrate a market for its product or service, and show potential for growth and job creation.  

The grant covers up to 50% of the investment or €150,000, whichever is lower.  

Eligible expenses include: 

  • Capital items,  
  • Salary costs,  
  • Consultancy/innovation/marketing expenses,  
  • and general overhead costs.  

Grants exceeding €50,000 or totalling €100,000 over three years require approval from Enterprise Ireland. Grants over €80,000 and up to €150,000 are considered exceptions and are reserved for projects with clear potential to transition to Enterprise Ireland. In all other cases, the maximum grant is 50% of the investment or €80,000, whichever is less. Additionally, a maximum grant of €15,000 per full-time job created applies, subject to the 50% limit. 

Business Expansion Grants:

The Business Expansion Grant is aimed at aiding businesses during their growth phase, following the initial 18-month start-up period. It is available to sole traders, partnerships, or limited companies that meet specific criteria. These include having fewer than 10 employees, operating within the jurisdiction of the Local Enterprise Office, conducting business in the commercial sphere, demonstrating a market for the product or service, and showing potential for growth in domestic and/or export markets, as well as the potential for new job creation.  

  1. The grant covers up to 50% of the investment or €150,000, whichever is lower, and can be applied towards  
  2. Capital items,  
  3. Salary costs,  
  4. Consultancy/innovation/marketing expenses, general overhead costs.  

Exceptional cases may see grants from €80,000 to €150,000, but only for projects with a clear potential for international export or graduation to Enterprise Ireland. Grants equal to or greater than €50,000, or totalling €100,000 over three years, require approval from Enterprise Ireland. A business that previously received a Priming Grant is ineligible for a Business Expansion grant until 12 months after the approval/drawdown date of the Priming Grant, unless under exceptional circumstances and meeting specific conditions regarding ‘De Minimus state aid’. 

Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters:

The Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters (TAME) grant supports businesses in exploring and developing new market opportunities. It covers 50% of eligible costs (up to €2,500 per calendar year) related to investigating and researching export markets, including activities like exhibiting at trade fairs, creating marketing materials, and developing websites targeting overseas markets. To be eligible, the enterprise must: 

  • Have fewer than 10 employees 
  • Be established, registered, and operate within the geographic location of the Local Enterprise Office 
  • Operate in the commercial sphere 
  • Demonstrate a market for their proposed product/service 
  • Engage in manufacturing or internationally traded services 
  • Not have received funding for their proposal from any other source. 

The grant covers expenses such as:  

  1. Participation in trade fairs and shows,  
  2. International trade networking events, 
  3.  Development of marketing materials for new export markets,  
  4. Translation services,  
  5. Creation of export-related websites,  
  6. and investigation of processes to develop export business.  

Travel and subsistence costs are eligible only for overseas trips, including economy air/ferry or rail fares, mileage or car hire, and subsistence rates. 

Research, Development and Innovation Supports: 

The Enterprise Ireland RD&I Fund is a crucial resource for the Irish industry, aimed at fostering research, development, and innovation across all stages of company growth. It supports companies in progressing from initial research projects to advanced Innovation and R&D endeavours. Eligible LEO Client Companies (excluding sole traders) can apply for assistance to enhance or develop new products, services, or processes through various offerings including: 

Agile Innovation Fund: The Agile Innovation Fund aids in creating or enhancing products, services, or processes with a project cost under €300,000, covering technical challenges (R&D) and innovations in service delivery or business models (Digital Process Innovation). 

RD&I Funding: The RD&I Fund backs the creation of new or significantly improved products, services, or processes with a competitive edge in the company’s target market. 

Digital Process Innovation (via the Agile Innovation Fund): The Digital Process Innovation offer encourages companies to invest in improved digital production, service delivery, or organizational methods, enhancing operational efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness. 

IP Strategy (offering IP Start and IP Plus): The IP Strategy Offers from Local Enterprise Offices assist companies in obtaining expert IP advisory services for immediate IP needs, such as prior-art research, IP audits, and patent drafting and filing. 

Innovation Partnership Programme: The Innovation Partnership Programme, in collaboration with Enterprise Ireland, connects businesses with research institutes in Ireland, providing access to advanced skills and expertise to elevate your company’s performance.

Innovation Vouchers: The Innovation Voucher Programme connects Ireland’s Knowledge Providers with small and medium-sized businesses. It offers €5,000 vouchers to help companies collaborate with registered knowledge providers on business opportunities or challenges. 

Micro Finance Ireland:

Microfinance Ireland (MFI) in partnership with the Local Enterprise Office Network offers business loans ranging from €2,000 to €25,000. MFI, a not-for-profit lender, collaborates closely with Local Enterprise Offices to provide essential financial support to small businesses, emphasizing job creation and sustainability. MFI offers various loan packages to assist businesses in starting up, growing, and expanding.  Click here to see packages. 

Trading Online Voucher Scheme:

The Trading Online Voucher Scheme offers up to €2,500 in grants to help small businesses with up to 10 employees expand their online presence. This initiative, part of the National Digital Strategy, aims to boost sales and reach new markets. The scheme covers 50% of costs, making online trading more accessible. Your local enterprise office provides free training on various topics like website development and digital marketing. Eligible businesses can also apply for a second voucher for upgrades or new additions. To qualify, businesses should have a limited e-commerce presence, 10 or fewer employees, and a turnover below €2 million. They must also be trading for at least 6 months. 

Energy Efficiency Grant

The Energy Efficiency Grant supports small enterprises (1-50 employees) in investing in green technologies and equipment after a sustainability audit. It covers 50% of eligible costs (€1,000 to €5,000) to enhance environmental sustainability and business resilience. To qualify, businesses must be registered within the Local Enterprise Office area, have a turnover exceeding €30,000 annually, and be trading for over 6 months. Certain activities (e.g., primary agriculture, coal, steel) and specific products (e.g., solar panels, biomass boilers) are ineligible. Additionally, businesses operating solely from home are not eligible.  
These financial supports are designed to provide a flexible suite of support to LEO clients and potential clients  

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