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venture capital firms invested €42m in 74 companies last year.

ENTERPRISE Ireland-supported venture capital firms invested €42m in 74 companies last year.

The amount was down by €9m on 2009, but VCs pumped money into 10 more companies in 2010 than they did during the previous 12 months. Enterprise Ireland called 2010’s showing "a significant result", which mirrored the strong performance by exporters and the increase in innovative start-up enterprises.

The Enterprise Ireland Seed & Venture Capital Programme 2010 Report, published yesterday, showed a continuing increase in seed funding for entrepreneurs and early stage start-ups.

"In the last 10 years, Enterprise Ireland has supported over 800 high potential start-up companies which are responsible for employing over 25,000 people directly and indirectly in the wider economy, and have combined sales of over €1.5bn, 75% of which is exported. It is crucial that we continue to build a first class investment eco-system that meets the needs of both entrepreneurs and expanding companies, supporting them to innovate, grow their businesses, increase exports and create jobs," commented Feargal O’Morain, Enterprise Ireland’s director of corporate and investment services.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton said that the promotion of indigenous innovation — through the development of a thriving venture capital industry — is crucial to Ireland returning to long-term economic growth. "We have seen in other countries the enormous benefits of venture capital — for example Israel, which now has one of the highest numbers of start-up companies per capita in the world — and we must ensure that we take on the lessons of success stories like this. The Enterprise Ireland Seed and Venture Capital Programme is a crucial part of this, and it is encouraging to see good performance both in seed and early stage and in the wider venture capital industry in 2010. However .... we must be far-reaching in our ambitions for our domestic venture capital industry."

This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Tuesday, July 26, 2011