NI businesses urged to enter Seedcorn contest

InterTradeIreland’s Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition 2021, now in its 19th year, has been launched boasting an additional new low-carbon €20k cash award.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 2:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 2:09 pm

Seedcorn is the largest investor readiness competition aimed at new start and early stage companies in any sector across the island, offering the biggest prize fund.

This year’s pot of €300,000 is €20,000 more than the prize fund in recent years. The additional funding will support a new prize for 2021; a €20k low carbon-award.

Seedcorn Programme Manager, Connor Sweeney said: “Securing investment and accessing investors can be a challenge and draw heavily on resources at any time. However, during the Covid pandemic it has been even more testing, which is why we expect this competition to resonate with firms who have big ideas and big growth potential.

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Seedcorn Programme Manager, Connor Sweeney and one of last year’s competition winners, Shannon Beattie, Chief Operations Officer, GenoME Diagnostics (Belfast)

“This competition not only gives entrants access to investors who are actively seeking to back high growth companies, but also opens up a host of learning opportunities through a series of online workshops aimed at helping firms prepare their business plan to the highest possible standard.

“The competition process and learnings gained will ultimately allow them to continue to be investor ready long after the competition ends. Many companies that have gone through the competition process, and who have not been winners, have spoken highly of the process. Those who have been finalists at past events, have gone on to raise in excess of €270m.”

Seedcorn is aimed at companies seeking to raise equity funding. They can enter one of two categories; ‘new start’ or ‘early stage’ to generate investment enabling them to grow and develop.

Last year’s winner, NI firm GenoME Diagnostics, which is developing a novel blood test to detect an earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer, secured a €50,000 cash prize which it is using to validate its new product and fast track its use in clinics. The company has also benefited from greater visibility globally.

Shannon Beattie, Chief Operations Officer, GenoME Diagnostics continued: “Seedcorn was an invaluable process that I would highly recommend to other companies or entrepreneurs from any sector. The competition closely mimics that of the investor process. The Seedcorn team along with the real investors and VCs involved in the competition have been fantastic in providing detailed feedback and suggestions, not just on the business plan and pitch, but also on the business itself.

“The process has helped to highlight the key features of the company that investors and VCs look for when considering an investment. It has been rewarding to view our business from the perspective of a potential investor, and to highlight potential improvements that could be made to help evolve the business in the long run. This competition also provides an excellent opportunity for extensive publicity to a wide-ranging audience, which is so important in the early stages of any company and is a huge added benefit on top of the prize money.”

There are four regions in the competition - Northern Ireland, Dublin (city and county), Munster and Connacht and Leinster (including counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan).

Over the upcoming weeks, a series of free online information sessions designed to guide those considering entering this year’s competition, will support applications.

The closing date for this year’s competition is 1pm Friday, May 28.

For more information about the competition and online courses, visit: https://intertradeireland.com/funding/seedcorn.

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