‘Never been a better time’ to invest in Irish firms

FUNDS to invest in Irish companies in 2011 are at their highest level in 30 years.

That claim was made at the launch of the 10th InterTradeIreland annual venture capital conference.

Niall Olden, who founded Kernel Capital, said now is an extremely vibrant time for Irish venture capitalists, adding “there has never been a better time to start up a business in Ireland”.

He will be among the speakers at the conference which is being held in association with Kernel Capital.

It is due to take place in the Institute of Chartered Accountants on April 7. Paul Kerley, chief executive of Norkom, will be the keynote speaker at conference, designed to facilitate networking between Ireland’s leading venture capitalists, business angels and start-ups that are seeking funding from across the island.

Investors who take part will have access to more than €250 million available for new investment opportunities.

Since its inauguration the seminar has attracted more than 2,000 delegates over its nine years and a further 250 are expected at next month’s conference. The theme will focus on securing investment, becoming self-sustaining and realising the investor exit.

Speaking at the launch of the event Mr Olden said: “Now is an exceptional time to set up a business and in 30 years of Irish venture capital there has never been more seed and early stage funding available than there is today.”

Despite the huge setbacks to the economy he insisted that we are at “the top of the curve internationally and has an excellent infrastructure in place to support new business. I have a strong level of optimism about Ireland’s future and our ability to deliver on our objective of becoming an innovation economy.”

Sean Gallagher, a successful entrepreneur-turned-investor and a board member of InterTradeIreland, stressed that it will be “small and medium enterprises” who will be the drivers of this economy into the future.

They require funds in order to succeed and VC- backed firms “outperform non-venture backed firms, create more jobs and invest more in R&D”.

The focus of the seminar is to help “transform equity-raising businesses into first-class investor-ready companies.

“In doing so they can play a part in assisting economic recovery and growth,” he said.

InterTradeIreland offers a range of supports to early stage companies to ensure that they are better prepared as they seek to raise equity and that they are “investor ready”, he said.

Kernel Capital has €196m in active venture capital funds under management and is supported by Bank of Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, the UL Foundation and NUIG. The company recently launched a €10m Medtech venture capital fund.

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