What kind of agencies offer support to SMEs?
In Northern Ireland there are 2 main agencies which offer support to SME’s
Invest NI Invest will support many types of business; however they are very interested in businesses linked to
improving the environment. Created a suite of six funds totalling more than £170 million to help SMEs with
high growth potential, to forge ahead.
The start-up financial support is generally limited to businesses that intend to sell outside Northern Ireland.
Innovation Vouchers offers up to £5000 to ‘purchase’ specialist knowledge from one of 39 respected
universities, colleges and research organisations throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This
knowledge can help you to expand, improve or create new products, services and processes.
Is there one agency which is the first place for businesses to go?
Invest NI is the main agency in Northern Ireland, for all sizes of business to achieve the support that they
require to help grow their business. Invest Ni specialise in wide range of businesses and will give you support in
the following areas: develop strategy, improve skills, operate more efficiency, find funding and new markets.
Invest NI advertise across all of Northern Ireland via social media, newspapers, posters and they also hold
seminars to encourage business to get involved. With their publicity and advertisement they can be easily
contacted and will arrange to meet with you to discuss your business development within 2-3 weeks.
Are business supports restricted to certain types of business, or enhanced for
certain types of SMEs (e.g. only available for manufacturing or for exporters)?
Invest NI support aerospace and defence, business services, construction, creative industries, financial
services, food and drink, ICT and electronics, legal services, life and health sciences and materials handling,
renewables and energy, security and tourism. There are a limited number of areas in which they have no real
level of support e.g. retail – although they will support on line selling.
Are there special supports for RE businesses?
Representatives of renewables in NI, giving advice on renewable energy sector. Provides the companies it
represents with knowledge and advice on marine and wind renewable energy projects/ ideas. It has well
developed sub groups which are capable of dealing any of these areas:
• Planning & environment
• Marine enery
Tech start up work to help companies win customers, make key hires, and develop strategies and tactics to
achieve the fastest possible growth in the value of the company.
Seek to be trusted peers and partners to help entrepreneurs realise their vision with experienced and timely
support. With their backing, Founders can focus on customer development and validating their business
Business supports available in Northern Ireland are described in more detail in the coming pages under the
• Financial Support (grants, loans, equity investment)
• Taxation or welfare supports or concessions for businesses
• Soft supports e.g. mentoring, training, specialist advice, networks
• Research and Development supports
• Social and Community supports (focused on not for profit)
• Other- e.g. Incubation space or office space