Enterprise support announced in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has unveiled an £8 million package of initiatives to support start-ups and early-stage businesses.

Finance minister Sammy Wilson says that the Northern Ireland Spin Outs scheme’s ability to fund innovation in small firms and build a strong enterprise culture is essential for economic recovery.

Wilson comments: ‘Our universities and local companies have demonstrated that they can provide world-class research. Government must seek to help companies convert this research into commercial applications which can in turn help to build world-class companies.’

The package will include a £5 million venture capital fund which will offer investments of between £50,000 and £250,000 to start-ups and early-stage companies that can demonstrate potential for high growth levels, while a separate £3 million fund will provide financing to non-university enterprises.

This week, prime minister Gordon Brown unveiled a venture capital fund to support technology-based start-ups and small businesses, with the aim of raising £1 billion in finance over the next ten years.

See also: Guide to small business funding Northern Ireland

New Enterprise Schemes

Back in March, Enterprise minister Arlene Foster announced new initiatives to increase entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland and allow firms to expand.

Starting on April 1st, two schemes from Invest Northern Ireland will work to increase the entrepreneurial culture of the country, which is seen as a key element of tackling the current economic downturn.

Foster explained: ‘Small local businesses are the lifeblood of our economy … We therefore need to increase the number of new businesses and support the growth of our existing companies, by helping them to export.’

The Go For It programme is targeted at people who are thinking of starting a new firm and will provide them with skills training, help in developing strategic business plans and support to commercialise their ideas.

In addition, entrepreneurs will have access to more specialist guidance in areas such as branding and website development through a mentorship scheme.

Established businesses will receive help through The Growth Programme, which will increase the potential to sell to export markets through guidance on financial management, marketing, negotiation skills, networking and online sales.

The Welsh Assembly Government launched a similar initiative in March, the Export Assist programme, which offers support to companies looking to enter overseas markets.

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