Just 26% of venture capital investment goes to SMEs outside Leinster

News Release

Just 26% of venture capital investment goes to SMEs outside Leinster

–      Cork event hears of major global opportunities for regional technology SMEs

Cork: Friday, 24th November, 2023: It has seldom been harder for Irish SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) to raise early stage funding, as Irish and global venture capital investment continue to drop, albeit a time when global opportunities for technology companies have never been greater.


This was stated by Dr Sally Cudmore, director of innovation at University College Cork, when she spoke at an Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA) Munster enterprise policy lab, attended by Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, in the Clayton Hotel Cork City today (Friday).

The event was organised by the IVCA to stimulate policy ideas to help grow venture capital investment into Munster and other regions outside the greater Dublin area.

Dr Cudmore’s comments follow the IVCA announcement earlier this week that venture capital funding into Irish technology SMEs fell by 38% to €190m from €309m in the third quarter of 2023.

Denise Sidhu, chairperson, IVCA and partner of Cork headquartered Kernel Capital, pointed out that venture capital investment outside Leinster (excluding Northern Ireland) amounted to 26% of the total in 2022 or €340m. Munster accounted for 7% of the total last year or €95m.


Caption: Pictured at the Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA) Munster enterprise policy lab, in the Clayton Hotel Cork City today (Friday) were (from left) Denise Sidhu, chairperson IVCA, Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment and Sarah-Jane Larkin, director general, IVCA. Photo: Diane Cusack


Vincent Forde, founder and CEO of Cork based Gasgon Medical, said that despite the current difficult funding environment, regional technology SMEs, which are scalable globally, can raise venture capital, “but it is much more difficult when you are located outside the Dublin financial bubble”.

Dr Cudmore of UCC pointed to a number of major growth opportunities for Irish technology SMEs.  “For example, because of global tensions, the US and European Chips Acts are mobilising billions of dollars and euros in public and private investments in the semiconductor space. Cork based Tyndall National Institute is one of the top semiconductor research centres in the world. There is huge potential for regional technology SMEs to exploit these massive global opportunities, but it requires early-stage seed funding for high risk, high reward innovative companies.”

She added, “We need to help our SMEs that have developed excellent products to scale. Government policy could assist by encouraging public sector organisations to be more open to testing and validating SME products.”

The UCC director of innovation added that Ireland should target and focus funding to high growth sectors where the country already had some natural advantages, not only in semiconductors, but also in food/agri-tech business and renewable energy.

“European countries, such as Germany, are already pursuing this policy and aiming to build a national ecosystem in sectors where they can become word leaders.

“A specific example, and particularly relevant to Munster, is precision fermentation which generates alternative protein and other high-value compounds. This is regarded as a technology that has the potential to disrupt the food and agriculture industry entirely. Ireland has a distinct competitive advantage in this emerging sector and the potential to be a trail blazer.”

Denise Sidhu, chairperson, IVCA said, “Ireland’s population is forecast to grow by a million by 2040. As Dublin faces increasing capacity issues, there is an opportunity to ensure a shift in population and jobs to each region.”

She added, “Recent job cutbacks across pharma and tech multinationals, and fall in corporation tax from these sources, emphasise the need to grow an indigenous regional base of innovative firms.”

Carrigaline based Gasgon Medical has so far raised €2.25m in seed funding from Irish, US and Spanish venture capital investors. Vincent Forde, founder and CEO said, “SMEs located outside the Dublin financial bubble looking to raise capital have to work much harder to build relationships and trust.”

Larry O’Donoghue, CEO, CorkBIC agreed with Vincent Forde of Gasgon that the best startups will tend to secure investment, regardless of location. “But it’s a chicken and egg situation. Venture capital firms need a supply of good companies in which to invest. How can we boost the pipeline of investible startups in the regions?”

He said that one of the major gaps that has existed for some time in the regions is thelack of fund backed accelerators. A business accelerator is a series of programmes designed to help established startups scale quickly.

“Fund backed accelerators could attract not just indigenous startups and invest in them at a pre-seed and seed stage, but also bring investable international startups to relocate to Ireland and develop their startups from a regional base,” said Mr O’Donoghue.

The Munster event was organised by the IVCA in response to the Government’s White Paper on Enterprise 2022-2030.


Press queries to:

Sarah-Jane Larkin, director general, IVCA, Email: sjlarkin@ivca.ie;

Mob: 087 320 9209 or

Ronnie Simpson, Simpson Consulting, Email: ronnie@simpsonconsulting.ie;

Mob: 086 855 9410


About the Irish Venture Capital Association

The Irish Venture Capital Association is the representative organisation for venture capital and private equity firms in Ireland.


An independent DCU report released in January 2020 found that Irish venture capital and private equity firms have invested €5bn in Irish SMEs since 2003 and, through syndication, have attracted in a further €3bn in funding from international firms.


This supported the state’s investment through its agencies’ Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Strategic Investment Fund and geared up investment through the Seed & Venture Capital Programme by almost 16 times.


Ronnie Simpson BBS, FPRII; Member, National Union of Journalists
Ronnie Simpson Consulting
(Formerly of Simpson Financial & Technology PR).
Business Registration No: 517518