If you are a start-up entrepreneur in search of non-dilutive funding for your business, you know that to be successful you need to go big or go home. Searching for funding beyond the Four Fs (Family, Founders, Friends, and Fools)—whether through venture capitalists or government programs—requires the same amount of vision you invested in developing your initial business idea. Increasingly, businesses in many industries benefit from having a global reach, not just in sales and supply chain, but in financing as well.
In the last issue of Strategic Grantsmanship News (March 2018), I wrote about how many businesses (large and small) are eligible for non-dilutive funding through US government grants and contracts. In fact, in my snapshot of available funding on the day I wrote that piece last month, businesses were eligible for more R&D non-dilutive funding opportunities than were academic institutions, which are typically considered the prime beneficiaries of research grants.
That is all great news for businesses, but the US government is not the only non-dilutive game in town. In fact, it may not be the best option for your business. In addition to incredibly low success rates, the lengthy process and the limitations on investment and personnel in some programs can be prohibitive for some start-ups with global scope in industries with rapid development paradigms.
I encourage businesses to consider non-dilutive opportunities from other countries, either in addition to or in lieu of the US government funding (depending on individual circumstances). I recommend considering countries that have multiple opportunities and commercialization support programs. One country that fits the bill is Ireland. The Irish workforce is ample and well educated, and, in the past decade or so, Ireland has made great strides in developing an ecosystem of innovation for global multinationals, R&D centers, and start-ups to take advantage of this talented workforce. Today, Ireland, with a population just under 5M, is the 7th largest exporter of pharmaceuticals with a GDP in 2016 of €238.2B ($294.1B). As a member of the European Union (EU), Ireland offers companies access to the EU market. It is also worth noting that, post-Brexit, Ireland is the only English-speaking country in the Eurozone.
6 Strategies for Pursuing Global Non-Dilutive Funding Opportunities
Interested in exploring your non-dilutive funding opportunities? Here are six strategies for pursuing these opportunities:
- Research the opportunities and their immigration and legal requirements fully and consult an experienced lawyer. (For information about opportunities in Ireland, see below.)
- Create a timeline and integrate these opportunities into your business plan, both in terms of funding structure and personnel. Establishing your business in the country will take time, as will applying for support from government programs. Your pursuit of other funding opportunities, both through venture capital (VC) and non-dilutive funding sources, should be ongoing. Remember, even when pursuing funders offering non-dilutive funding, money attracts money.
- When developing your proposals, work with a writer/consultant who has experience applying for these funding opportunities. She should have experience and expertise in the market, regulatory environments, and specific strategies of the countries in which you wish to pursue funding.
- If you would like to establish residency or apply for a work permit or visa as part of establishing your enterprise in a country of which you are not a citizen, apply for these statuses through the business development programs themselves, if possible. These programs have teams that will facilitate your application, usually more quickly (and with more success) than applying directly through the general immigration process.
- Structure your funding with complementary funding sources. Funding opportunities are often complementary, and you can often structure your funding to include multiple non-dilutive sources. Remember, funders—even government programs—are looking to back successful ventures that attract an appropriate amount of funding from multiple sources.
- Female entrepreneurs should take advantage of funding and support programs for female entrepreneurs, e.g., Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs.
Where do you start? Two organizations that offer funding and other support for businesses in Ireland include:
- Enterprise Ireland provides funding for companies of many stages of development. Companies with one or more founders with EU citizenship have broad access to these programs, but non-citizen entrepreneurs may also access some of these programs with a visa, work permit, or residency. (You can follow Enterprise Ireland on Twitter at @Entirl.)
- The Industrial Development Agency (IDA) promotes investment in Ireland, and it too offers support (funding, training, international marketing consulting) to businesses interested in locating in Ireland. (You can follow the IDA on Twitter at @IDAIreland.)
Our group at Duke City Consulting is experienced in international funding and can help your team identify and pursue global opportunities. For more information, please visit our web site or contact us at (505)750-9272.