Irish SME's secured €502m in venture capital funding during the first quarter of the year, an increase of nearly a third on the same period last year.

But a €300m deal achieved in March by the Cork based energy firm Amarenco was responsible for driving a substantial part of the record result.

Other large deals included the raising of €27.3m by Fire1, €16m by Supernode and €15m each by Assure Hedge, Astatine and Neuromod.

Environmental industries drew two thirds of the funding, with life sciences securing 11%.

The data is contained in the Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA) VenturePulse survey, which is compiled alongside law firm William Fry.

"While Amarenco boosted the figures, if you exclude deals above €30m in first quarter 2023 and 2022, this year still saw a rise of 70% to over €200m for the first three months, which reflects well in view of global headwinds across the sector," said Leo Hamill, the IVCA Chairperson.

Globally, venture capital funding fell by over half in the first three months of the year.

Despite the trend bucking performance by the Irish sector, the IVCA does remain concerned about the availability of funding for start-ups seeking seed and early-stage support.

The value of deals in the €1m-€3m range fell by two thirds to €10m. Deals below €1m fell by 28% to €6.5m. Seed capital dropped 67% to €7.5m.

International venture capital company investments made up around 40% of the total injected into firms.

When larger rounds above €30m are excluded, international funding is up 210% on the same period last year.

"In the context of a global slowdown in VC investment, the high level of international funding secured by Irish companies clearly demonstrates a strong appetite for innovative indigenous enterprises which reflects their high quality and realistic valuations," said Sarah-Jane Larkin, director general, IVCA .