A BRAND new centre for up-and-coming businesses in Limerick is now accepting applications.
The Greenhouse Incubation Centre, which is located on O'Connell Street, will welcome between 10 and 15 new businesses this summer to take part in a six month programme where they will see their business develop through one-to-one workshops with mentors including former Shannon Development chief Kevin Thompstone; legal advice and compulsory weekly meetings designed to build business contacts are also part of the programme.
The entrepreneur behind the set-up, Dutchman Evert Bopp, is renting office space in 59-60 O'Connell Street and he says that his incubation scheme is one of only three of its kind in Europe.
Speaking to Business Leader, he revealed he is the sole backer of the scheme - but is looking for €500,000 in investment in return for almost half of the centre to copperfasten it for the first two years.
"There is one in Madrid and one in Berlin at the moment. I have taken the risk of opening up the centre, and setting it up. I am 99 per cent sure once it opens, people will see it works, and hopefully we will have a bunch of people knocking down the door," he said.
Evert said the application process will be tough and unlike other incubation centres, the Greenhouse will not charge for use of its facilities - rather it will take a stake of "up to ten per cent" in a firm.
"We will look at things that other people might not look at: for example, who are your shareholders, what is your intellectual property. For example, you might have a bunch of really good software developers developing a really good product, and an investor looks at it, goes through due diligence and realises you don't own the intellectual property," he explained.
Evert hopes that once a company has finished its six month stay in the Greenhouse incubator, they can move onto their own land, or lands supplied by development agencies.
"By January next year, hopefully we will have our first graduates. We hope these companies will be ready for further funding and development. We want to act as a clearing house for development agencies like Enterprise Ireland and even the Limerick Enterprise Acceleration Programme," he explained.
Earlier this year, telecoms giant Eircom offered to provide free broadband to all tenants of the incubation unit.
For details and to apply to the Greenhouse Limerick start-up incubator, check out www.greenhouselimerick.com/application-form