The Limerick Institute of Technology has announced the start of a €1m seed fund to help start-up companies get access to funds.

It is estimated that qualifying companies could access between €10,000 and €25,000 to help them with early stage finance.

The €1m Enterprise Ladder Fund (ELF) is part of Limerick Institute of Technology's ongoing efforts to support entrepreneurship and stimulate job creation.

It is mainly targeted at start-up businesses in the region served by the Limerick Institute of Technology - Clare, Limerick City and County and Tipperary.

€350,000 has already been secured through a number of donors in the region including Analog Devices, Grant Thornton, Holmes O'Malley Sexton solicitors, the Limerick Chamber of Commerce, Ryan Group HOldings and the JP McManus fund.

The remaining two thirds of the fund will be secured by the end of the year through similar tax-incentivised means.

''Start-up companies are key to our ongoing economic recovery and the ELF will provide critical support for qualifying companies at LIT and the wider region as they seek to get their businesses up and running,' commented Finance Minister Michael Noonan at the launch of the fund.

Meanwhile, Irish businessman John Hartnett, a native of Limerick but who runs his own technology company in Silicon Valley in the US, has announced that he is establishing a venture capital company in Limerick in the coming months. This will provide investment finance of up to €1m for established companies.

He is partnered in the venture by MacroVision founder John Ryan. Fellow Limerickmen Niall O'Connor of Apple and Rory McInerney of Intel are also current investors in the fund.

ITC will be Limerick City's first ever venture capital company and will be based in the Limerick Institute of Technology. It will bring a wide range of services and supports for high-potential firms, including access to a multi-million euro fund and to a wider network of US based angel funds and later stage investment.

''One of the deciding factors in choosing Limerick for our European headquarters was the availability of high-growth potential companies at early stage and we are fully satisfied that the wider Limerick region satisfies this requirement,'' commented John Harnett.