So, a few things defined what we saw in the early stage funding scene in Ireland in 2018:
More international investors at the late seed/series A stage of investment. This is a trend we have seen in recent years, indicating that investors outside of Ireland continue to see Irish companies, across a whole range of sectors, as a good investment opportunity.
Private investors are still investing (participating in all deals we were involved in), but not a single one of them availed of the tax relief available to them through the EII scheme. This is the first year we have seen this and it’s a worrying statistic. The key word in the Employment & Investment Incentive Scheme seems to have been forgotten along the way by the powers that be. Let’s hope the recent changes to the EIIS will see this turnaround in 2019.
For whatever reason, female founders are still in the minority when it comes to attracting investment. We know a number of female entrepreneurs closing rounds this month and I hope this is a sign of things changing in 2019. [Some further thoughts on this here from Niamh Bushnell]
Companies continue to look at alternative sources of funding, such as equity crowdfunding, so it’s great to see this opening up more to Irish companies, through platforms both here and in the UK.