For entrepreneurs, the pace of IPOs is pedestrian and that looks like continuing without some form of policy initiative

Last week I attended an evening for a group of Munster-based companies that met to debate funding options for their future growth.

It was an eclectic group of businesses representing a variety of sectors.

All are at different stages of their development but the common denominator was their entrepreneurial spirit.

The room was fizzing with energy as we listened to stories about how these companies compete and look forward to growing and expanding across many international markets.

It is hard to teach entrepreneurship.

Only a certain kind of individual has the unique hunger and ability to take on the responsibilities and risks attached to starting or running a company.

If Ireland is to grow waves of successful companies to complement the multinationals who choose the Republic as a base then it must do better at fostering and encouraging domestic business.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) has a strong reputation for its support of start-up companies but there is a problem with the way in which we help companies scale up and finance themselves.

Too often, the short-term appeal of hefty cheques convinces some entrepreneurs to cash in.

By so doing they pass over the future of those businesses to international concerns.

Finding ways to convince Irish entrepeneurs to stay independent is a challenge for policymakers.

I’m convinced both Enterprise Ireland and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (Isif) can play a key role in this if they work with the stock exchange to provide a funding package that allows companies to list with relative ease.

They already co-operate to run a programme for entrepreneurs.

However, they need to go a step further.

EI, ISIF, and the stock exchange should offer a funding package that only kicks in if a company can secure at least 75% of its funding needs from the private investment community.

If that is possible, then Isif and EI would invest in equity on exactly the same terms as those money managers while also contributing to the legal and accounting costs of the IPO if the listing is in Dublin.

Quite frankly, the pace of IPOs is pedestrian and that looks like continuing for the foreseeable future without some form of policy initiative.

Joe Gill is director of origination and corporate broking with Goodbody Stockbrokers. His views are personal.

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