Are You a New Entrepreneur Looking to Obtain a STEP Grant?

step grant blog graphic

Are You a New Entrepreneur Looking to Obtain a STEP Grant?

Our expertise may be just what you need to secure your grant. We can manage the application process for you, drawing on our expertise to ensure your application is both persuasive and compelling.

Irish grants for SME’s

If you are an EEA national, or you are a Swiss citizen, then you are entitled to live and work in Ireland without a visa. You can be employed or self-employed, and can set up a business. There are various Irish grants for small businesses, many of which have been developed in the wake of Covid-19 and Brexit. You can learn more about these through Enterprise Ireland.

Irish government grants for small overseas businesses

There are different rules for non-EEA/Swiss nationals. You can still invest or establish a business in Ireland – but only if you qualify for either the Immigrant Investor Programme or the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme.

What grant am I entitled to? Non-EEA/Swiss nationals

The two start-up grants available in Ireland for non-EEA nationals are the Immigrant Investor Programme and the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme. The right one for you depends on:

  1. Your motivations; and
  2. Whether or not you meet the eligibility criteria

The Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP)

If you want to invest into a new or existing Irish business, then the Immigrant Investor Programme could be for you. To qualify for the Immigrant Investor Programme, you must:

  • Have a minimum personal net worth of €2 million and be able to provide evidence of these funds
  • Be of good character
  • Have a clean criminal record

You must also invest into one of the following four categories:

  1. A new or existing Irish enterprise – this could be your own start-up, someone else’s business or a number of enterprises. You must make a minimum €1 million aggregate investment for a minimum of three years. The enterprise must be registered and headquartered in Ireland and must create or maintain jobs.
  2. An investment fund – you can invest in Irish businesses and projects. You must invest at least €1 million into an investment fund for at least three years.
  3. A Real Estate Investment Trust – you must invest at least €2 million in one (or a number of) Real Estate Investment Trusts listed on the Irish Stock Exchange.
  4. Endowment – you must donate €500,000 to a public project that benefits the arts, sport, health, culture or education.

If you are approved for the Immigration Investor Programme, then you and your nominated family members will be permitted to reside in Ireland for up to two years. You do not have to live in Ireland if you don’t want to, but you must visit at least once a year. After this two year period, permission to remain in Ireland can be renewed for another three years, after which you will be eligible for long-term residence.

The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP)

The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme allows innovative entrepreneurs to establish a business in Ireland, and to reside in the State on a full-time basis. To qualify for a STEP grant, you must:

  • Have €50,000 funding
  • Have an innovative business proposal
  • Be of good character
  • Have a clean criminal record

To apply for a STEP grant, you must submit an online application. The key to this application is to show that your business is a High Potential Start Up (HPSU). Your application will be assessed by an Evaluation Committee, who will want to see that your venture:

  • Introduces a new or innovative product or service to international markets
  • Is involved in manufacturing or internationally traded services
  • Is capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising €1 million in sales within three to four years of starting up
  • Is led by an experienced management team
  • Is headquartered and controlled in Ireland
  • Is less than 5 years old

If your STEP grant is approved, you and your immediate family members will be allowed to live in Ireland for two years. This includes your spouse and any dependent children under the age of 18. In certain circumstances, children over the age of 18 will also be permitted. After this two year period, permission to remain in Ireland can be renewed for another three years, after which you will be eligible for long-term residence.

Start up tech company grants Ireland

STEP grants are particularly well-suited to tech start-ups, as well as manufacturing and design ventures. Ireland is a hub for emerging technology companies thanks to its highly skilled workforce and favourable tax rates.

Irish grants for cafes

However, it should be noted that STEP grants are not available for enterprises relating to retail, catering, personal services or similar businesses. Prior to March 2016, support was available under the Business Permission Scheme, but this is no longer in effect.

How do I find out what grant I’m entitled to?

It is your responsibility to find out what grant you are entitled to. If you’re not sure, please contact our immigration solicitors. We can discuss your goals and suggest whether a STEP grant or the Immigration Investor Programme would be suitable for you. It is important to do this research before making an application. Otherwise, you will waste your time and money on an application that is ultimately unsuccessful.

How do I get a grant for my new business?

Applications for the IIP and the STEP grant can be made at any time via the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). Applications are reviewed by an Evaluation Committee at regular intervals throughout the year. You may be asked for further information, if required. The committee – which is made up of senior public and civil servants – will then decide whether to approve or reject your application.

If you are accepted into the Immigrant Investor Programme or the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme, you must abide by certain conditions. For example, under the STEP grant you must:

  • Establish the business as outlined in your application
  • Work on this business on a full time basis
  • Not be employed in any other capacity
  • Not become a financial burden on the Irish State
  • Not be convicted of a criminal offence

If your application is rejected, you will lose the non-refundable application fee. You will be told why the application was unsuccessful. The decision cannot be appealed or reviewed. Therefore, you have just one chance to get it right.

Legal advice for non-EEA nationals – Irish grants for SME’s

If you are a non-EEA/Swiss national and you would like to start a business in Ireland, or invest in Ireland, please contact us at Gibson & Associates. You do not have to go through the application process alone. Instead, you can instruct one of our immigration experts to manage the process for you. This is highly recommended, as we know exactly what the Evaluation Committee is looking for.

Remember, the Evaluation Committee will analyse your proposal to check that it meets their strict criteria. So, if you are applying for a STEP grant, then your application must provide incontrovertible evidence that your business is set to succeed. More than that, you must show that your business will thrive – so much so that you will create 10 jobs in Ireland and realise €1 million in sales within three to four years of starting.

If you fail to fulfil this brief, your application will be unsuccessful. You will lose the application fee, which is €350 for a STEP grant and €1,500 for the Immigrant Investor Programme. You cannot request a review or an appeal, so you will have no choice but to either give up or to try again.

How can we help you?

Our immigration solicitors specialise in helping people who want to live, work and travel in Ireland. If you want to set up a business in Ireland, or you want to invest in an Irish enterprise, we are here to help you achieve that goal.

Here’s how we can help you:

Expert legal advice

First, we will provide you with expert legal advice. We understand the different start-up grants, programmes and schemes available in Ireland. We can explain which is best suited to your situation.

Manage the application process

Next, we will take control of the application process, leaving you free to work on your business. We will gather documentation to show the Evaluation Committee that you:

  • Have a good character
  • Do not have a criminal record
  • Have an innovative business proposal
  • Have the necessary funds – and that these funds have been obtained via legitimate means

It is not enough to simply state that you have a good character, or indeed that you have a robust business plan. Rather, you must provide evidence that supports each and every claim. This is the key to a successful application. We know how to do this, and will work alongside you to make your application the best it can be.

Submit the application

Finally, we will submit the application on your behalf and will advise you on the payment of any fees. This ensures you do not have to worry about the admin or the paperwork. You can be comfortable in the knowledge that your application has been handled by a professional with a proven track record in both STEP and IIP applications.

Contact us now

Are you an entrepreneur who sees a future in Ireland? If so, contact us today at Gibson & Associates. We can help you achieve your business ambitions, paving the way for you, your business and your family to relocate to the Emerald Isle.

Call us today on +353 (0)1 264 5555 or complete our  Online Enquiry  and we’ll be delighted to help you.

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