Eligibility and Application

What is the Irish Innovation Fund?
The Irish Innovation Fund (IIF) is a $3.5-million fund (launched in the Spring of 2013) administered by the ESTEEM Program to help launch student-led ventures at University of Notre Dame. The goal of the fund is to “provide a unique opportunity to make a significant economic impact by investing in companies that have developed out of the cutting-edge science and engineering research that is being explored and nurtured at Notre Dame.”

Who is eligible to participate?

  • Any student (or student team) from any discipline at the University of Notre Dame – from freshman to PhD
  • enFocus fellows
  • Faculty can only be involved as long as they are assisting a student-led team
  • Alumni are NOT eligible for funding

How do I apply?
We have the same requirements for submission that the McCloskey Business Plan uses for their initial submissions:

If you have completed the Round 1 submission with McCloskey, your form is automatically considered for the Irish Innovation Fund (email Rebekeh Go DeLine at rgo@nd.edu to opt out of this consideration).  If you would like to separately apply for the Irish Innovation Fund, please submit your Public Summary & Overview to Rebekah electronically.

What is the deadline for applying?
5PM EST, November 7, 2014

What happens after I submit my initial business concept/plan?
Your plan will be reviewed by the ESTEEM Program and you will receive notice just prior to the Christmas Break as to whether or not your idea has "passed" and is moving on to the next round.  If your idea/plan is not accepted, you will receive feedback as to why and what areas might be improved upon/explored further for a possible re-submission at a later date.  For ideas/plans that pass, you will receive notification about next steps -- including how you will continue to engage with the ESTEEM advisors on the further development and vetting of your idea/plan. Moving forward, the Irish Innovation Fund will follow the McCloskey process whereby the next step is a much more detailed business plan submission that will be due toward the end of February.

When will I find out if I have actually received funding?
After applications for the next round are received, the ESTEEM advisors will narrow all plan submissions to a handful by April -- and we will determine any formal recommendations for funding.  These will be submitted to the Irish Innovation Fund Advisory Board by late April/early May. It is likely that actual funding would occur between the summer and the end of the calendar year -- depending on how much work still needs to be done in the company's formation and overall product/service offering launch to warrant start-up funding.

How is this fund different from McCloskey?
The Irish Innovation Fund is in place to not only support the McCloskey Business Plan Competition but to enhance it by providing an entirely new funding potential as part of growing the University's entire ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Can I enter my idea/plan in both the McCloskey Business Plan Competition and the Irish Innovation Fund funding process?  Is McCloskey required to get the funding through IIF?
If you have submitted a business plan for McCloskey, you are automatically considered for the Irish Innovation Fund (no further action is needed on your behalf).You are not required to enter the McCloskey Business Plan Competition as part of the Irish Innovation Fund process and can apply for it separately by submitting the following to Rebekah (rgo@nd.edu):

Remember the deadline is November 7, 2014, 5PM EST.

What kind of ideas will get funded?
A wide variety -- and in many different markets; however, a common denominator to all will be that it must involve some level of technology, engineering or science.

What will be the average size investment?
It will certainly vary depending on the opportunity and what kind of key milestones have to be met to prove market acceptance -- but there will be some deals funded at $20k and others at $100k and everything in between -- with some possibility of follow-on/secondary investing as well.

Will the Irish Innovation Fund co-invest? 
Yes -- as long as the Irish Innovation process of involving the ESTEEM Program in the initial discovery and due diligence process -- leading to a formal recommendation for funding -- is followed.  There will certainly be business opportunities requiring more funding than the Irish Innovation Fund may be able to cover by itself.  In those cases, the Fund will work with other possible funding sources to secure the proper funding amount required for success.

I know the Fund is brand new -- are there any actual deals that IIF has funded?
Yes, the Irish Innovation Fund has made two (2) investments in its first 14 months and is actively considering a third opportunity.  Both of these investments spun out of the ESTEEM Program's capstone thesis requirement and involve technologies that have been patented by the University and are on their way to being commercialized in the marketplace.

Does the Irish Innovation Fund only provide capital -- or do they also provide for other support in getting a company launched?
The Irish Innovation Fund wants to see Notre Dame led start-ups succeed in the marketplace -- just like other major groups here at the University with whom we partner to encourage and support entrepreneurship, innovation and the commercialization of our research:  The Colleges of Engineering, Science and Business; The Office of Research; the Office of Technology Transfer; Innovation Park; the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies (who oversee and administer the McCloskey Business Plan Competition) and many others.  The Irish Innovation Fund is committed to working closely with all of these groups to connect our student entrepreneurs to mentors, advisors, potential management support and leadership; potential key suppliers, customers and channels of distribution as well as Notre Dame alumni who could be helpful in growing a valuable network.