Early-stage entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial teams have been invited to apply for Enterprise Ireland's €1m Competitive Start Fund (CSF) which is now open for applications.

The competition is open to early-stage companies from all sectors with an eligible innovative product or service set for global markets.

The fund will award up to €50,000 in equity funding for up to 20 successful applicants.

The fund is part of Enterprise Ireland's strategy for increasing the number of diverse High Potential Start-Up companies that have the potential and ambition to succeed internationally.

It is designed to help start-ups reach key commercial and technical milestones, including evaluating overseas market opportunities, building prototypes, developing market entry plans and securing third party investment.

Damien English, the Minister for Business, Employment and Retail, said that as the country emerges from Covid, it is important that we continue to encourage entrepreneurial spirit and help ambitious home-grown start-ups to develop and thrive.

"This €1m CSF will provide a vital funding boost for innovative export-focused Irish businesses and bolster their ability to compete globally. The fund aims to attract new entrepreneurs and drive the creation of new businesses which will result in job creation and prosperity across Ireland," he said.

"I would encourage eligible early-stage start-ups to apply and make the most of this opportunity to turn their ideas into an international commercial reality," he added.

Jenny Melia, Manager of Enterprise Ireland's High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) Division, said that Enterprise Ireland is committed to increasing the levels of entrepreneurship and growing more Irish enterprises at scale.

"This €1m fund will assist the new generation of innovative Irish start-ups to grow further and realise their global ambition. Each successful applicant will receive up to €50,000 in funding as well as mentoring opportunities and advice from experts on Enterprise Ireland's High Potential Start-Up team," Ms Melia said.

"The drive to transition to a low-carbon economy and tackling the impact of climate change presents market opportunities for Irish enterprise and we particularly welcome applications from start-ups with innovative solutions to address these challenges and opportunities," she said.

"Furthermore, increasing the number of women starting high-growth enterprises is an important objective in Enterprise Ireland's "Action Plan for Women in Business" and we also look forward to welcoming applications from women entrepreneurs at the start of their journeys to help improve gender balance in the business community," she added.