Majority of Founders View Access to Funding as Too Complex

May 23, 2024
  • Ibec Publishes Founders Report, Calls for Unified Strategy to Support Thriving Cross-Sectoral and Skills-Based Founder Ecosystem in Ireland

Ibec’s Founders Report, surveying individuals who founded businesses in Ireland, reveals that the majority consider the application process for Grant Funding (73%), Debt Funding (63%), and Research Funding (38%) to be complex or very complex when accessing the appropriate supports for scaling. Furthermore, 34% of founders said they did not use the R&D Tax Credit scheme, citing administrative burden, associated costs, and structure as barriers to access. Similar to the challenges faced by established businesses, founders are also grappling with high operating and staff costs.

The report cites that Ireland is currently ranked 13th on the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) for public policy supports for entrepreneurship, suggesting a need for enhanced support to develop this ecosystem. One of the key recommendations in the Founders Report is Ibec's call for a unified strategy to support a thriving cross-sectoral and skills-based founder ecosystem in Ireland.

According to Ibec, current and future founders will benefit most from a coherent and focused programme of actions from the government. The report emphasises the need for collaboration across government departments and agencies to design a unified framework for supporting founders. Other key recommendations include better streamlining of funding access, incentivising R&D, and helping founders navigate complex regulatory and compliance landscapes. Founders also view investment in sustainability and digitisation as critical, even at the early stages of growth.

Sharon Higgins, Executive Director of Membership and Sectors, said:

"The purpose of this report is to examine how we can better support founder-led enterprises. Founding and growing a business is both extremely challenging and rewarding. Often, founders navigate the different stages of their growth alone, with limited support and overwhelmed by where to access the right resources. While we have punched well above our weight in terms of founder-led companies, we cannot be complacent. Ibec recognises the courage and ambition required for founder-led businesses in Ireland and their importance to our local and national economies. They are the backbone of their communities—they create jobs, opportunities, and encourage creativity and innovation, leading to positive societal impacts. Furthermore, they are heavily intertwined with established or large corporates through transfers of knowledge, providing key services and strategic partnerships, as well as the movement of the workforce between both.

The reality is that for many founder-led companies, their lifecycle is often less predictable, and their route to scaling is not straightforward. Therefore, it is crucial to support these brave business owners to grow, regardless of their growth stage. Founders, compared to other businesses, require different supports. Ease of funding, investment in R&D, and navigating complex regulation and compliance are often more challenging for founder-led businesses.

One consistent piece of feedback we receive from this cohort of businesses is the impact of an uncoordinated government strategy and the potential benefits that could come from greater alignment among the key stakeholders tasked with supporting founders."

Our Founders Report can be found here.