Northern Ireland reveals new scaling programme for SMEs

Northern Ireland Economy Minister Gordon Lyons launched a new Invest NI programme to support the growth of local SME businesses across Northern Ireland.

Ambition to Grow is a £1.8million regionally focussed support programme. It has been developed by Invest NI to support innovative, export-driven SMEs to create jobs and sell outside Northern Ireland.

Applications will open on Monday 24 October, and will close at 12 noon on Friday 25 November 2022. More information is available on Invest NI’s Ambition to Grow webpage.

“It will help them to create skilled jobs, grow their business through exports, and work towards reaching a turnover of over £1m”

The application form and eligibity checker will be available on the webpage from 12 noon Monday 24 October.

Following the application process, each successful business will receive up to £45,000 in support towards the creation of a minimum of three jobs and business development activities.

Ambition to Grow

“I am delighted to announce this new support for our local businesses. As a competitive programme, Ambition to Grow will offer valuable financial support, alongside Invest NI’s expertise, to local SMEs from across Northern Ireland,” said Northern Ireland Economy Minister Gordon Lyons.

“The programme is being specifically managed by Invest NI’s Regional Team and will ensure businesses in every region will benefit. It will help them to create skilled jobs, grow their business through exports, and work towards reaching a turnover of over £1m.”

Support will be awarded to applicants on a competitive basis. Applications will be assessed and scored, with the highest scoring companies awarded funding, following a successful validation interview.

Mel Chittock, Invest NI interim CEO, said: “As the business landscape has continually evolved we’re exploring new ways in which we can effectively provide best-fit support to businesses. Ambition to Grow has been designed to offer a new competitive approach, with a focus on supporting ambitious, innovative SMEs that are in the earliest stages of their development and who have had no support from us in the past five years. The support will be split evenly across our Regional Office network, with the top ten applications from each region receiving support.

“To help businesses understand this new approach and if the programme is a good fit for them, we are hosting information sessions in each of the 11 council areas from 12 to 20 October. Interested businesses can book to attend an information session in their local area to meet our Regional Business teams and find out about the programme. I would encourage all eligible SMEs to attend and find out about how we can support the early stages of your business growth journey.”

For more information on how to apply or book to attend an information event, please visit Invest NI’s Ambition to Grow webpage.

Main image at top: Invest NI Interim CEO, Mel Chittock; Invest NI Chief Transformation Officer, Alan McKeown; and Economy Minister, Gordon Lyons

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.