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It's time for a Causeway Seedcorn Winner..

InterTradeIreland urges local companies to make their next move and enter all-island competition

At the launch of the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn competition 2017, young, innovative companies and entrepreneurs from all sectors across Northern Ireland, including those based in the Causeway area, are being urged to make the next strategic business move and enter the competition to help them become investor ready.

With a total prize fund of €280,000, Seedcorn offers a huge cash boost for firms and is a must for early stage and new start companies seeking to raise equity to help their business grow and develop.

Speaking about the competition, Connor Sweeney, InterTradeIreland, said: “We are now in the 15th year of Seedcorn and past companies continue to reap the benefits of taking part through contacts made via Seedcorn and equity raised as a result. We know from feedback that the experience of the competition process can be critical for business development. Entrants can get invaluable guidance, tips and advice from our experts, as well as investors and other entrepreneurs, on how to improve their business plan and investment pitch.”

The Seedcorn competition mirrors the real life investment process and can greatly improve a company’s ability to attract equity. To date, InterTradeIreland has supported more than 2,584 companies through the Seedcorn process with previous finalists going on to secure more than €218m worth of new equity. Past winners from Northern Ireland include Catagen and Sophia Search from Belfast who were overall winners, and See.Sense from Newtownards and Cirdan Imaging from Lisburn who were regional winners.

“We have so many innovative companies in Northern Ireland, especially in the Causeway area, and very talented people who have great ideas,” Connor added. “But over the history of the Seedcorn Competition, we have only had a few local overall winners. So perhaps this is the time for companies here to step up to the challenge and bring the title back to Northern Ireland.

“We know that firms are facing a lot of uncertainty at the moment regarding Brexit but now is the perfect time to get your business in shape so you are prepared and ready to adapt from as strong a position as possible, if and when necessary. This process can really help do just that and refining your business plan at this stage, along with taking advantage of the expert advice on offer, is definitely a smart move to make.”

Last year’s overall winner, Valitacell, based in Dublin, develops bio-technology primarily aimed at the bio-pharmaceutical market, which allows companies to manufacture "high tech" bio-therapeutic drugs faster, more cheaply and with greater regulatory confidence.

The company is already successfully exporting to Great Britain, Sweden, Austria and the United States and is in advanced negotiations with a major global pharmaceutical company regarding the launch of its next product.

CEO and Co-Founder, Dr Terry McWade, who was born and grew up in Northern Ireland, added: “Winning the overall prize at Seedcorn 2016 was a tremendous confidence boost for the company. We had been in operation for just over a year and the €100,000 prize fund allowed us to progress further along the implementation path and achieve a number of key milestones. We are now starting our funding round and, as we are already in revenue with product on the market and with global biopharma companies as customers, we are in a very strong position. The publicity and profile from our Seedcorn Competition win has proved very useful and has opened the door for many of the conversations we are currently having. My advice to anyone considering taking part in the competition is to grab the opportunity with both hands and listen to the feedback and sound advice you are given every step of the way.”

The deadline to register is 26 May and companies need to submit their application along with a slide deck or a short video. Shortlisted companies are invited to submit a full business plan and, if successful, are invited to deliver an investment pitch in front of the judging panel comprising of venture capitalists, business angels and some of the island’s leading industry experts and entrepreneurs.

Over the coming weeks, InterTradeIreland will host a series of free workshops designed to guide those considering entering this year’s competition, including providing advice on what an investor looks for in a business plan as well as tips on what to include in videos and slide decks. In Northern Ireland, the next workshop is planned for the North West Science Park on 13 April. More information on all of the workshops planned can be found on the InterTradeIreland website www.intertradeireland.com/seedcorn.

Businesses can enter in one of the two categories; new start or early stage and there are four regions; Northern Ireland, Dublin (City & County), Munster, and Connacht & Leinster (including counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan).

Throughout each stage of the competition, companies will be judged on various criteria including financial performance, company milestones and achievements, future strategy for the business, the management team in place, and indeed the quality of the pitch to the judging panel. Feedback is provided to companies at each stage of the competition process.

This year’s competition is now open for registration at www.intertradeireland.com/seedcorn and the deadline for submissions is 26 May 2017. You can follow all the action throughout the 2017 competition by searching for and using #ITISeedcorn and following @iti_seedcorn

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