Grants For Business

Here's a list of the help that's now in place for business and employment as of 14th March 2012. Tony - (full details on all supports can be found here

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

1. Seed capital scheme

If you start up and work full-time in your own company, you can claim back the income tax you paid in the previous six years to invest equity into a company (subscribed as shares) engaged in a qualifying trade. The amount of relief is restricted to the amount of the investment. Since November, the scheme is open to a much wider range of sectors and the ceiling on recoverable tax can now be up to €100,000 in each of the six look back years.

2. Three Year Corporate tax exemption

The scheme provides relief from corporation tax on the trading income and certain gains of new start-up companies in the first 3 years of trading. There will full relief on income and gains relating to the trade where total corporation tax liability in any of the first 3 accounting periods does not exceed €40,000. There will be marginal relief where the tax liability falls between €40,000 and €60,000.

3. R & D Tax Credit up to €100,000

The first €100,000 of all qualifying R&D expenditure will benefit from the full 25% R&D taxcredit from 2012. This is of particular benefit to SMEs. For larger R and D expenditure, the tax credit will continue to apply only to the amount by which expenditure in 2012 exceeds that incurred in the base year 2003.

  • The total tax benefit of qualifying research and development expenditure is 37.5% when in addition to the tax credit you takes into account the normal 12.5% corporation tax deduction for the expenditure.

4. Taking on a new employee: PRSIExemption Scheme

A new PRSI Incentive Scheme exempts employers who create new and additional jobs from paying the employers' portion of the PRSI contribution for 18 months. The criteria for eligible workers have been relaxed. Employees must have been on the Live Register for 6 months.

5. Taking a person 1 year out of work (double tax relief)

Revenue Job Assist offers both employers and workers an incentive where people who have been 12 months on the live register (or disability allowance) are employed:

  • The employer gets double write-off of the wages plus employers PRSI for three years – even at the minimum wage, it is worth €2,500 per year to a company and up to €8,000 per year to a sole trader
  • The worker gets an extra tax allowance – of €3,810 plus €1,270 for each child in year 1, and two-thirds of these allowances in year 2, one-third in year 3 – for a worker on the 20% rate it is worth at least €762 in the first year or €1,524 over the three years.

6. Back to Work (Enterprise) allowance

If you have been signing on for over 12 months and you would like to become self-employed, the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) allows you to keep your social welfare payment for 2 years (Year 1: 100%, Year 2:75%). To qualify, you must be:

  • Setting up a business that a Local Integrated Development Company or a Facilitator has approved in writing in advance,

A short term Enterprise Allowance can be claimed by anyone who has lost their job and who is eligible for Job Seeker’s benefit. It runs until your benefit payment would have expired.

7. Potential Exporters Division

Enterprise Ireland has established a new Potential Exporter Division to stimulate greater activity within companies across all regions and to reorient those demonstrating real growth potential from the domestic to the international market place. The new unit will provide assistance designed to aid client companies investigate, prepare and execute an international strategy including:

  • Practical business advice, information and market intelligence
  • Targeted funding supports where appropriate
  • Suitable training and development

Phone (01) 727 2829 or visit

8. Micro-Finance Fund

The Government is developing a Micro finance fund targeted at start-up, newly established, or growing micro enterprises across all sectors, employing not more than 10 people. It will provide loans of up to €25,000 for commercially viable proposals that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by commercial banks. Applicants will have to demonstrate that they have been refused credit by a commercial lending institution before their application is considered. Initial seed equity of €10m is being invested and this will be leveraged by additional loans. Borrowers will pay a commercial interest rate.

9. Partial loan guarantee scheme

A Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme is being developed which will partially guarantee loans to viable businesses whom banks have refused credit because of:

  • Insufficient collateral
  • The lender does not have the skills to carry out a proper assessment, due to a lack of knowledge of new sectors, markets or technologies
  • Businesses must show ability to repay the loan. Loan assessment will be carried out entirely by the bank. Strict terms will protect the taxpayer.
  • The scheme will not cover:
  • Primary production in agriculture, horticulture and fisheries nor Property-related activities
  • Lending by way of an overdraft, nor pure refinancing of existing debts. However, cover can be given for the new lending element in an overall package of support to the business, including consolidation of existing debts. A line of credit directly linked to an exporting contract cannot be included due to state aid rules

10. High Potential Start-Up (Enterprise Ireland)

Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) team provides intense support, seed and venture capital to entrepreneurs and early stage companies that are considered to have an innovative product, service or technology, and have the potential to achieve exports sales and create employment. To qualify a company should be headquarted in Ireland, less than 6 years old and capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising €1 million in sales within three to four years of starting up. Enterprise Ireland’s HPSU Team is located at The Plaza, Eastpoint Business Park, Dublin 3. Early Stage Start-Up enquiries should phone 01 7272885.

11. Competitive Start Fund (Enterprise Ireland)

The Competitive Start Fund awards €50,000 to innovative start-ups, which have the capability to succeed in global markets. You are eligible to apply if you are an existing or potential client of Enterprise Ireland’s HPSU programme. The Fund is a competitive one with 4 calls planned for 2012, supporting 60 start-ups. For more information on the Competitive Start up Fund e-mail: or phone 01 7272202

12. Start-up Grants and Mentoring (County Enterprise Boards)

The CEB mentor programmematches up the knowledge and skills of experienced business practitioners with small business owners. The specialist fields for mentor engagement include general management, financial structuring, production planning, marketing, distribution, corporate organisation and strategic planning. Contact your local CEB for further information.

Priming and business Grants are available for businesses in manufacturing or internationally trading services. The maximum Grant available is 50% of the investment or €150,000 whichever is the lesser. Grants over €80,000 and up to €150,000 shall only be considered where the company shows potential to export internationally and / or graduate to Enterprise Ireland. The priming grant is only available within the first eighteen months of setting up the business.

A Feasibility / innovation Grants may be a maximum of 50% of the investment or €20,000 whichever is the lesser (in the South and East region).

13. Employment and Investment Incentive (EII)

This scheme which has replaced the Business Expansion Scheme is available to the majority of unquoted small and medium sized companies. The maximum investment by all investors in any one company or group of companies is €10,000,000 subject to a maximum of €2,500,000 in any one twelve month period. It allows individual investors to obtain income tax relief on investments up to a maximum of €150,000 per annum in each tax year up to 2013. Relief is initially available to an individual at 30%. A further 11% tax relief will be available where it has been proven that employment levels have increased at the company at the end of the holding period (3 years) or where evidence is provided that the company used the capital raised for expenditure on research and development.

14. Innovation Vouchers

If you own or manage a small limited company with a company registration number and you have a business opportunity or problem that you want to explore, you can apply for an Innovation Voucher worth €5,000. The objective of the Innovation Voucher initiative is to build links between Ireland's public knowledge providers and small businesses and create a cultural shift in the small business community's approach to innovation. Contact

15. Credit Refusals: Credit Review Office

If you’re a small business, sole trader or farm owner who has had difficulty getting credit or loan facilities of up to the new €500,000 limit or you have had an unfavourable change to your existing credit terms, get in touch with the Credit Review Office for an independent review. The banks are required to comply with the recommendation or to give their reasons for not doing so to the Credit Review Office. The Office has overturned the Banks’ decision in four cases. Call them on 1850 211 789 or visit online at where you will find good advice on how to approach your bank.

Code of conduct for business lending to SMEs

A new code of conduct for SMEs came into effect on January 1st 2012. Financial institutions are now required to meet a number of provisions including: the lender's procedures for dealing with SMEs in financial trouble; details of fees or changes that may apply to firms as a result of financial difficulties; details of the type of information the lender may require from the SMEs and information on firms' rights to appeal a decision on a lending arrangement.

16. Foreign Earnings Deduction

A Foreign Earnings Deduction (FED) is being introduced to assist companies seeking to expand into emerging markets in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The maximum amount of income that can be deducted under the scheme will be €35,000 per annum. The deduction will operate for three years (ending in the 2014 tax year).

17. New Frontiers Programme

Enterprise Ireland launchedNew Frontiers, Ireland’s new national entrepreneur development programme that is delivered at a local level by the Institutes of Technology. If you have an innovative business idea and are planning to establish and run your own company the New Frontiers Enterpreneur Development Programme can provide you with a package of supports to help accelerate your business development and to equip you with the skills and contacts that you need to successfully start and grow your company. Enterprise Ireland is providing €4.25 million in funding to enable the Institutes of Technology to deliver the programme.

18. Pathways to Work

High level target:

  • 75,000 of those long term unemployed in February 2012 will be in employment by 2015 – this is more than double the current rate
  • Average time a person who becomes unemployed will spend on the live register will fall from 21 months in February 2012 to 12 months by end 2015
  • Key Actions:
  • Introduce profiling of all new claimants by end 2012 (50% by May), including signing a contract to participate in a in a progression plan
  • Engage with those still on the live register after 3 months in a group setting
  • Interview 130,000 unemployed during 2012 giving advice and guidance
  • Provide 73,000 placements in 2012 in back to education, work experience and community employment
  • Support 12,000 to get Back to Work (Enterprise) Allowance
  • Provide 110,000 Solas, Skillnets, labour market activation and Springboard places
  • Expand local authority training placements to 2,000 by the middle of next year
  • Support 12,000 in local and community development programme


Tony Mulcahy

Tony Mulcahy

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