Two funds for start-up businesses were today given a £4m funding boost due to high demand from new companies.
The Northern Ireland Spin Out Funds (NISPO), administered by investment company E-Synergy, have received the cash injection from Invest NI.
The £5m venture 'capital invest growth fund' is designed for seed and early stage businesses with high growth potential.
That fund has now received an extra £2m to invest in companies between now and March 2014.
Meanwhile, the £3m Invest NI 'proof of concept fund' is a pre-commercial grant awarding fund so that small to medium-sized businesses, individuals and so-called 'micro-businesses' can establish the commercial potential of a concept. That fund has received another £2m, again until March next year.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: "Both of these funds have received a lot of interest, with all the 'proof of concept' grant funds invested ahead of schedule.
"It is clear there is a lot of demand for support so I am pleased to announce that Invest NI will be providing a further £2m in each of these funds ensuring we are able to provide support and help to businesses at the early stage of development."
Mike Bowman, director of E-Synergy, said: "We are delighted this extra investment has been made available. The level of interest clearly demonstrates there is a need for these funds and we are keen to go back to those we have been unable to help with proof of concept grant funding to tell them the fund is now open again.
"The additional investment in the invest growth fund will allow us to invest in more companies and support them over a longer period of time with both money and expertise."
CBI Northern Ireland chairman Ian Coulter said the funding increase was "a most welcome development". He added: "A key part of the CBI Getting Growth Finance Going report published in June last year was a recommendation for a greater mixture of accessible funds to be developed for local businesses so as to aid expansion and growth. The additional funds for the Invest NI growth fund and the proof of concept fund are further positive steps towards the development of wider venture capital resources in Northern Ireland.
"We strongly welcome the pro-active stance of Invest Northern Ireland in responding quickly to the levels of demand for this type of funding.
"We do believe it is important that further funding can be found which will allow these funds to continue post March 2014," Mr Coulter said.