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New €10million competitive fund to support more start-ups in every county of the country

Community Enterprise Iniative Launch 2015

Two thirds of all new jobs are created by start-ups in their first five years of existence

As part of the Government’s Regional Action plan for Jobs, the 31 Local Enterprise Offices and other public, private and community organisations that support the job-creation are being invited to bid for funding to create new collaborative projects that will unleash the jobs potential in their locality.

The initiative comprises two funds, which go live today, with closing date of 10th July 2015:

  • A €5million LEO fund, covering the period 2015-2017, open to groups of Local Enterprise Offices who come together to bid for funding for projects to support job-creation initiatives in their areas. The funding will be awarded on a competitive basis to the projects with the greatest capacity to create jobs.
  • A €5million Community Enterprise Initiatives fund, open to groups and organisations in every county of the country who come together with ideas for projects to create jobs. The fund will be awarded on a competitive basis to the projects with the greatest capacity to create jobs. Examples of projects which might succeed could include – hiring skilled people who could assist with mentoring businesses, investing in hubs and co-working space where businesses could work in their early days.

The new initiative forms part of the Government’s €250million Regional Action Plan for Jobs, and will provide funding for organisations and groups in every county of the country. Action Plans are currently being developed for all 8 regions of the country, coordinated by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. At the heart of the Regional Action Plan for Jobs process is the principle that while Government can provide funding and coordination, many of the best ideas for job-creation around the country will come from the people working on the ground in every area of the country.

The funds are an opportunity for local groups to come up with their own innovative solutions that will boost job creation locally.

The announcement was made today at Enterprise House, Carlow, as the Carlow Community Enterprise Centre celebrated its tenth birthday with Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton TD, and Minister of State for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD.

Making the announcement, the Taoiseach said: “The priority of this Government is to spread economic recovery to all parts of Ireland.  Supporting local businesses to create jobs is essential to get Ireland working again.  To support local economies, we announced in February a package of €250m to build on the success of IDA and Enterprise Ireland in all of the regions.  Today, we are unveiling the first part of that funding - €5m for collaboration by the 31 LEOs on regional-specific initiatives and €5m, available through Enterprise Ireland, for new and existing business or community groups to collaborate on projects which will strengthen the job creation potential of their region."

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said: “Every region of the country is growing employment, but some regions are growing faster than others, and at the heart of our plan is accelerating that jobs growth in every part of the country. That is why we are putting in place 8 regional jobs plans, backed by €250million in new funding, to build on the strengths of each region and create more jobs. Today we are announcing that the first €10million of that funding is now open, and I encourage people in every town and village of the country to consider whether they can work with other groups in their area to develop projects that could be funded through these schemes, to help create the jobs that their areas badly need”.

Minister Nash said: “What we are doing through these two funds is supporting people with great business ideas from the bottom up. Local organisations, institutions and individuals across the country are already collaborating on new plans to create jobs or enterprise hubs for their regions. Now they can apply for funding to turn those ideas into new businesses in their region. This is a real opportunity to grow jobs locally and keep them local through the LEOs and Community Enterprise Initiatives.”

€5million LEO Fund

A €5m fund is being made available to enable the 31 LEOs to fund initiatives focused on clearly defined opportunities, weaknesses or business challenges impacting on micro-enterprise locally, regionally and nationally in order to grow and sustain employment and scale micro-enterprise. Collaboration on initiatives between two or more LEOs from within the network of 31 LEOs is essential.

The €5m fund will cover the period 2015 – 2017 of which €500,000 will be available in 2015 with the balance expended over remaining period and applicant LEOs can apply for a maximum of €250,000 per project.


Priority will be given to new approaches that build on, and strengthen, the entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout the country and an innovative approach to stimulating ‘best practice’. A prerequisite for proposals is the need to demonstrate innovative solutions to fostering and creating employment. Proposed projects will not replicate existing programmes or schemes.

Illustrative examples of eligible initiatives include but are not limited to the following:

  • Procurement: Improving the procurement capability of micro-enterprise via initiatives to upskill and upscale;
  • Sectoral development: Networking, and building capability within microenterprise to pursue sectoral opportunities;
  • Entrepreneurship and start-up creation: Promoting entrepreneurship and start-up creation in-line with Government policy


In-line with the national remit of LEOs, the specific objectives of this fund are:

  • To strengthen microenterprise locally, regionally and nationally in order to create jobs, grow enterprise and support the progression of clients to EI;
  • To foster collaboration, networking and a joined up approach to national, regional and local micro-enterprise capability building, growth and job creation;
  • To achieve additional job creation and enterprise growth through connecting the 31 LEOs regionally and nationally;

The economic impact of the €5 million competitive LEO fund will be measured by:

  • Number of new jobs created (Jobs sustained; new jobs in start-ups; new jobs in existing businesses);
  • An increase in the capability of microenterprise sector locally, regionally and nationally;
  • New clients progressing to Enterprise Ireland.

€5million Community Enterprise Initiatives Fund

The overarching goal of the Fund is to stimulate and support enterprise and job creation at a local, community and regional level. The competitive call for applications is open to new and existing organisations, groups and alliances, who collaboratively seek to promote entrepreneurship, create jobs, foster innovation and enhance export opportunities for small business. A prerequisite for proposals is the need to demonstrate innovative solutions to fostering and creating employment. Priority will be given to new approaches that strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem.


Regional and local community groups and alliances have the potential to contribute to enterprise development and job creation through the development of enterprise hubs, enterprise centres and enterprise space, networks, clusters and other alliances and by encouraging and facilitating an entrepreneurial culture. The Government’s Community Enterprise Initiative will act as a catalyst to bring local, community and regional groupings together to form such alliances.


The Community Initiatives Fund is competitive scheme open to proposals from new and existing organisations and groups with innovative ideas to create jobs, promote entrepreneurship, boost innovation and promote exports. A prerequisite of this scheme is to build on, and take full advantage of infrastructure, investment and supports already made by various enterprise partners such as the LEOs, EI, the Community Enterprise Centres, Skillnets, Chambers of Commerce, ETBs, HEIs, Local Development Companies as well as private sector entities in a collaborative and networked manner.

Objectives of the Community Enterprise Initiative Scheme (2015 -2017)

The overarching goal of the €5m Community Enterprise Initiative is to stimulate and support enterprise and job creation throughout the country at local, community and regional level. Through the utilisation of existing infrastructure and the leveraging of nationally available enterprise supports, the specific objectives of the scheme include:

  • Fostering an increased collaborative, networked and linked approach to regional and local enterprise development and job creation
  • Establishment of hubs, accelerators, networks and clusters or other partnerships based on regional strengths, opportunities and uniqueness. Within this is the establishment of partnership activities where innovative start-ups can be established in a supportive network before graduating to other support mechanisms or self-sufficiency
  • Proactively seeking out, encouraging and supporting applications from economically disadvantaged areas and areas facing potential economic shock to foster potential opportunities for job creation and supporting enterprise
  • Promotion of a progression pathway for companies as they start, develop and scale.