Early-stage entrepreneurs can now apply for two Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Funds (CSFs) which are open for applications.

The two funds for "All Sectors" and "Women Entrepreneurs" amount to a combined total of €2m.

Enterprise Ireland can approve a maximum of 40 investments of up to €50,000 in equity funding to successful projects.

Ambitious entrepreneurs and start-ups with an eligible innovative product or service set for international markets are urged to apply.

The new funds are part of Enterprise Ireland's strategy for increasing the number of diverse High Potential Start-Up companies (HPSUs) that have the potential and ambition to succeed internationally. They are designed to help start-ups reach key commercial and technical milestones.

Closing date for both CSF competitions is in three weeks' time at 3pm on Tuesday, 28 September.

The Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail said that as the country emerges from the pandemic, we need to continue to cultivate the country's start-up culture and help ambitious entrepreneurs to move their business ideas to the next level.

"Getting your own business up and running is challenging at the best of times, so I am encouraging eligible early-stage start-ups with global ambition to apply to the relevant Competitive Start Fund competition, each of which is worth up to €1m," Damien English said.

"I am particularly pleased to see Enterprise Ireland continue to prioritise increasing the number of women entrepreneurs as we know from years of international research that greater diversity delivers better business results," the Minister added.

Jenny Melia, the manager of Enterprise Ireland's High Potential Start-Up Division, said the agency is looking forward to working with a new generation of export-led start-ups who need a funding boost for innovative entrepreneurial endeavours in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors.

"With up to €50,000 in funding available successful applicants can also benefit from mentoring opportunities and advice from experts on our High Potential Start-Up team," Ms Melia said.

She also said that increasing the number of women starting high-growth enterprises is an important objective in Enterprise Ireland’s "Action Plan for Women in Business".

"We look forward to providing up to €1m in funding specifically to women entrepreneurs at the start of their journeys to help improve gender balance in the business community," she added.