€72 million was invested in over 80 Irish companies last year by Enterprise Ireland under its Seed and Venture Capital Schemes.

The state agency says it has now supported more than 500 firms through the schemes over the past 25 years since it was established.

In total €1.34 billion has been invested in seed and venture capital companies over that quarter century, EI says.

173 investments were made in Irish companies during 2018, with 82 High Potential Start-Ups benefiting.

€9.3 million of the investment went into the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN), with 42 companies receiving money through that route.

A further €175 million in seed and venture capital funding has been promised by the government under a fresh scheme running from this year to 2024.

"The benefits to businesses of the scheme are twofold," said Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys.

"It provides them with much needed finance during the stages in their business cycle when finance can be extremely difficult to come by."

"Crucially, it also introduces young businesses to networks and connections that will provide an invaluable source of mentoring and guidance."

Kevin Sherry, Executive Director, Global Business Development, Enterprise Ireland also paid tribute to partners who have worked with EI over the past 25 years on the scheme.

"Investments by Venture Capital Funds in which Enterprise Ireland has invested play a key role in the achievement of our overarching strategic objectives to build scale, increase innovation and help Irish companies diversify on global markets," he said.