Belfast Telegraph

Local finalists battle it out in iFactory awards for innovation

Fifteen companies from across Northern Ireland and the border counties have been named as finalists in tonight's iFactory Celebration Conference and awards in Londonderry's City Hotel.

The firms are from places as diverse as Cavan, Carrickmore and Larne, selling goods from cleaning products to heating systems, as well as those specialising in educational programmes and multimedia.

The iFactory awards recognise innovation in categories including growth, export, new service development, new product development and innovation continuum.

Three companies have been shortlisted in two categories – Derry-based businesses Uproar Comics and Troll and JT Spas from Larne.

The iFactory is a four-year EU-funded programme designed to help SMEs across Northern Ireland and the border counties with innovation. It culminates tonight in a conference and awards ceremony featuring Jo Malone and coffee entrepreneur Martyn Dawes.

The £1.65m programme is led by North West Regional College and managed by the Northern Ireland Business and Innovation Centre (NORIBIC).

Dr Bernard Toal, chief executive of NORIBIC, said: "Some of the figures so far are very impressive. The top three performers alone have increased their turnover by over £1m and two technology companies have secured over £200,000 in innovation investment from external sources. Our clients have opened up markets in 14 export countries, have sustained over 200 jobs and created over 40 new posts."

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