The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition 2021

By Steven Galvin - Last update

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Are you a student entrepreneur? Have you got a great idea for a new product or service? Enter Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition 2021 and pitch your business idea as the next big thing and you will receive support to develop it.

The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition 2021 is now open. Apply online until midnight on Tuesday, March 16, 2021



The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition, now in its 10th year, is a pre-accelerator programme designed to help Ireland’s early-stage, student entrepreneurs bring their idea from concept to pitch.

Ten business ideas will then be selected to receive mentoring and support through a series of workshops during April, May and June, with the opportunity to compete for €27,000 in prize money and other supports.

Who is eligible?

The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition is open to undergraduates, post-graduates, and recent graduates (two years or less), resident in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, at pre-investment stage.

Specifically we are looking for three things:

  • An individual or a team
  • Global scalability potential
  • Categories including software, hardware, food, deep-tech, AgTech, and internationally traded services.


First Prize
€15,000 cash prize and 1-1 mentoring with Bill McKiernan, Founder of CyberSource Corporation and President of WSM Capital LLC.

Runner-up prizes
€7,000 cash prize (first runner-up)
€2,000 cash prize (second runner-up)

Mental Health Innovation Award
Kindly supported by St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPHMS).

€3,000 cash prize for the best mental health solution that addresses a COVID-related challenge.

We are looking for innovative technology ideas that can support the mental health of our nation which is suffering greatly right now due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. We need, now more than ever, novel solutions to deliver mental health services and to provide citizens and patients with mental health self-management tools.


We are looking for smart, new business ideas from amongst Ireland’s early-stage, student entrepreneurs. Convince us that your business idea is the next big thing, and you will receive support to develop it from concept to pitch.

Ten ideas will be selected to participate on pre-acceleration workshops. At the finale, our Judging Panel of leading international entrepreneurs, executives, and investors, will select the winner and runners-up.


  • Wednesday, 03 February 2021
    Applications open
  • Tuesday, 16th March 2021
    Applications close at midnight
  • Wednesday, 24th March 2021
    Shortlist selection announced.

Virtual Workshop Days

These are half-days from 9.30hrs-13.00hrs online. Teams must be available to participate on all scheduled activities.

  • Workshop I: 06 April 2021
    Orientation and Introduction to The Ireland Funds
  • Workshop II: 13 April 2021
    Problem Framing
  • Workshop III: 20 April 2021
    Problem Framing Team Check
  • Workshop IV: 27 April 2021
    Customer Discovery
  • Workshop V: 04 May 2020
    Customer Discovery Team Check
  • Workshop VI: 11 May 2021
    Value Proposition and Market Sizing
  • Workshop VII: 18 May 2021
    VP & MS Team Check
  • Workshop VIII: 25 May 2021
    Pitch Preparation
  • Workshop IX: 01 June 2021
    Practice Pitch and Feedback
  • Programme showcase 15 June 2021

About The Ireland Funds
The Ireland Funds’ mission is to harness the power of a global philanthropic network of friends of Ireland to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development across the island of Ireland and among Irish communities around the world.

About St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS)

SPMHS is a leading independent, not-for-profit mental health service provider. SPMHS works to provide the highest quality mental healthcare, to promote mental wellbeing and mental health awareness, and to advocate for the rights of those experiencing mental health difficulties. This is achieved through a human rights-based approach, through the enhancement of evidence-based knowledge and by striving to be at the cutting-edge of new initiatives and advances in the field.

About Alinea
Alinea is a global consultancy that partners with enterprise agencies, academic research centres, corporate and philanthropic organisations to accelerate new business opportunities through rigorous, technical pre-acceleration and acceleration programme experiences.

Steven Galvin

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