Small and medium firms involved in making parts for the global aerospace industry can now avail of a £40m fund which will help them to develop new technology and secure new business.
The National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP), which is aimed at supporting aerospace supply chain companies, is now open to Northern Ireland firms.
The scheme is managed by ADS, the national organisation for the aerospace industry, supported locally by Invest Northern Ireland.
A Northern Ireland regional advisory panel has now been established, including representatives of major companies such as Bombardier, Airbus and Rolls Royce.
Financial assistance for Northern Ireland-based companies wishing to participate in collaborative research and development projects through NATEP will be managed by Invest NI.
The announcement was made at Farnborough International Airshow, where Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said that the programme could help more than double revenues from aerospace, defence, security and space sectors in Northern Ireland to over £2bn per year.
"Industry partnerships can make a positive impact on businesses by improving their competitiveness, productivity and performance and I welcome the emphasis that is being placed on research and development, as well as collaboration to help local companies compete for export business and diversify their customer base," the minister said.
Minister Foster said that orders for Northern Ireland aerospace companies are a tremendous endorsement of the technological expertise and capability available here.
"Invest NI continues to work closely with Bombardier and other aerospace companies to help them grow and develop and ensure that the sector remains internationally competitive," she said.
"Bombardier's success has a positive knock-on effect for other locally based firms, who are benefiting from the associated supply chain opportunities.
"This is good news for the Northern Ireland economy as a whole and I am confident that this trend will continue in the weeks and months ahead."
Dr Leslie Orr, ADS Northern Ireland manager, added: "As well as helping our companies to develop new aerospace technologies, it also links our companies to the major aerospace primes and new markets for these technologies."
Calls for outline project proposals are scheduled for August 2014, December 2014 and May 2015.