InterTradeIreland's Seedcorn Investor Readiness competition, the largest business competition of its kind, is offering start-up and early stage companies a record total cash prize fund of €300,000.

A new Low Carbon Award is also up for grabs this year, with a €20,000 prize for the best investment proposal from a firm operating in the low carbon or green sector.

Early stage and start-up companies can enter the regional heat in their area - Dublin (city and county), Munster and Connacht and Leinster (including counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan) and Northern Ireland.

Previous Seedcorn winners hail from across the island of Ireland and represent a wide variety of sectors.

They include Barracuda FX in Dublin, Loci Orthopaedics in Galway, Dublin's Valitacell, ALR Innovations in Limerick and Epona Biotech/Stablelab in Sligo.

Last year, Galway's NUA Surgical, who have created a medical device to aid Caesarean deliveries, took the top prize of €100,00 last year. The company credits the competition for helping the business become investor ready.

InterTradeIreland’s Seedcorn Programme Manager Connor Sweeney said the journey can be as rewarding as the end result for many of the participants.

"The 2021 Seedcorn competition is particularly important as we appreciate the challenges start-ups and early stage companies have been under over the past year," Mr Sweeney said.

"As well as the significant prize fund on offer, the process is an ideal opportunity for up-and-coming companies and future leaders across Ireland to develop their business plans, networking and pitching skills, while learning how best to attract potential investors and raise equity," he added.

The closing date for entries is 1pm on Friday May 28.