Invest NI creates £5.7m fund to stimulate innovation

13 Dec 20162 Shares

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Collaboration or linkages between local companies will boost their presence on the international stage. Image: Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock

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In a move to stimulate innovation amongst local businesses throughout Northern Ireland, Invest NI has created a new £5.7m fund.

Funding up to £25,000 will be available to industry-led networks to fund collaboration projects by Invest NI.

“Innovation is absolutely essential to wider economic growth and the Collaborative Growth Programme will support SMEs to combine expertise, funding and contacts to develop new products and services and open up new business opportunities worldwide,” Northern Ireland Economy Minister Simon Hamilton, MLA, said.

‘Invest NI’s Collaborative Growth Programme is a promising piece in the puzzle to enhance the odds for Northern Ireland firms to succeed in competition’
– CHRISTIAN KETELS

“The practice of ‘open innovation’ is recognised as a significant driver of regional competitiveness, so it’s important we leverage our unique selling points to maximise our strengths on the international stage.”

Open collaboration

Previous programme success has included Kilkeel-based Sea Source that, in the last 18 months, secured £8m of new business as a result of the work by the Kilkeel Harbour Works network of 14 businesses.

“The success Sea Source has achieved in the offshore renewable energy sector demonstrates how collaboration can not only transform an industry, but leverage the strengths of the region to attract significant contracts.”

Christian Ketels, a leading economist and world-renowned expert in clusters and competitiveness from Harvard Business School, said the funding could be a promising piece in the puzzle.

“Value creation and innovation ultimately always occurs in companies,” Ketels said.

“But we increasingly see that their success is not only a function of their internal strengths, but depends also on the partners they are connected with, and on the business environment in which they operate.

“Invest NI’s Collaborative Growth Programme is a promising piece in the puzzle to enhance the odds for Northern Ireland firms to succeed in competition, generating benefits both for them and for the Northern Ireland economy.”

Titanic Quarter in Belfast. Image: Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com