HPSU programme, what is it and how can companies be defined as High Potential Startups?

Ireland is known as one of the best Countries in the world to start a new business. In a few years, it has become one of the most important global hubs for tech and innovative startups.

For this reason, the Irish Government decided to make it easier for both local and foreign entrepreneurs to set up a company in Ireland.

As a result, early-stage startups and companies have access to a lot of services provided by the Irish Government, such as support programmes, funding and investment opportunities.

One of these is the HPSU programme. But what is it and how companies can be defined as High Potential Startups?

What Is a HPSU?

The HPSU programme is promoted by Enterprise Ireland (EI), the government agency responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in the global markets.

According to the agency, a HPSU can be defined as “a company that is internationally focused and has the potential to employ at least 10 persons within 3 years of starting and to generate revenues of at least €1 million”.

Following the definition given by EI, High Potential Startups are all of those young companies who have the potential to develop an innovative product or service that will be traded in international markets.

HPSU Requirements: Is Your Company a HPSU?

In order to enter the programme, startups must respect some requirements. Companies who don’t meet all of these criteria, won’t be able to enter the programme.

Here is the list of the binding conditions for startups in order to be considered HPSUs:

  • introduction of an innovative service or product in the international market;
  • involved in international trading or in manufacturing;
  • able to create 10 jobs in Ireland;
  • generate €1 million within 3 years of starting up;
  • led by an experienced management team;
  • headquartered and controlled in Ireland;
  • less than 5 years old since registration

How To Apply

If your startup respects all HPSU criteria and you want a further evaluation of your business proposition, you can complete the Outline Business Proposition and send it to: HPSUenquiries@enterprise-ireland.com .

Then, business advisors of Enterprise Ireland will evaluate your proposition and will reply within 5 working days.

Once they acknowledge that a startup is eligible to be considered as an high potential startup, entrepreneurs can benefit from different development services, such as:

In addition, Enterprise Ireland offers funding support for high potential startups. Some of the funding opportunities are:

STEP (Startup Entrepreneur Programme)

The Startup Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) is the most popular Irish programme addressed to startup’s foreign founders and owners and it’s strictly related to the HPSU Programme.

Under the STEP, foreign entrepreneurs may obtain a temporary residence permit in Ireland if their start-up project is considered a High Potential Start-Up venture.

The Programme was established by the Irish Government in 2012 to stimulate productive investment in Ireland and offer residency. It provides that migrants with a proposal for a high potential startup in the innovation economy and funding of €75,000, can be given residency in Ireland for the purposes of developing their business.

Successful applicants and their nominated family members will be granted residence in Ireland for two years which will be renewable for a further three years. After 5 years residence, participants under the programme will be eligible for long term residence in the State.

No initial job creation targets will be set as it is recognised that such businesses can take some time to get off the ground.

A similar permission is also available for all students that come from outside of the EU, who studied and graduated in advanced STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and want to create their own startup.

HPSU Companies

Many startups underwent the HPSU programme: here are 4 examples of successful companies who took part in the programme.


Abodoo is the only free to access site for employers and smart workers. It is a smart matching careers platform for people and companies interested in permanent remote, flexible, hybrid or co-working roles.


AID:Tech is a company who provides blockchain solutions that offer multiple applications. In particular, it helps users to own, control and monetise their personal identity metadata.


Pointy is an Irish startup​ ​that​ lets ​local​ ​retailers put their stock online so that they can be discovered via search engines.

It combines hardware and a software platform to help local retailers easily establish a presence online in order to drive more people to their store.

In other words, this is about fighting back against e-commerce giants and helping local retailers drive more footfall, but with very little additional overhead.

Lightly Technologies

Lightly Technologies was formed in January 2016 as a reaction to the unfulfilled promise of OLED lighting technology.

Their flagship product is Hikari SQ. It is an ultra-thin light source with the appearance and design benefits of OLED lighting, but the superior performance and manufacturing of LED technology.

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(Image credits: Disertel)