Belfast Telegraph

SMEs get £1m boost to drive exports to Republic

By David Elliot

Cross-border trade body InterTradeIreland has made £1m of funding available to help small and medium-sized enterprises in Northern Ireland grow their businesses in the Republic.

Eligible companies will be able to secure up to £15,000 in funding through the Acumen programme which helps increase cross-border export sales, improve knowledge of new markets and identify new business opportunities.

Support options available include assistance towards employing a full-time or part-time sales person, engaging a graduate for a 12-month sales and marketing project or funding for a market research project.

"Our research shows that 49% of businesses have been severely affected by the slump in domestic demand due to the economic downturn and that exporters are significantly outperforming those companies which are dependent on their local market," Margaret Hearty, director of business services and programmes for InterTradeIreland explained.

"With ease of access and familiarity, the cross-border market is a valuable opportunity for Northern Ireland companies and one which may open up wider markets internationally.

"Our Acumen programme provides businesses with the support and assistance needed to help them to grow and enhance their competitiveness by seeking out these wider cross-border export opportunities. I urge any SME that is interested in developing its business into new markets, to register their interest in this programme.''

The InterTradeIreland Acumen scheme is funded by InterTradeIreland, Enterprise Ireland and Invest NI, and supported by County and City Enterprise Boards and Údarás na Gaeltachta.

To qualify for support through the Acumen programme, firms should be a local manufacturing or a tradable service company with less than 250 employees and an annual turnover below £40m. Visit: www.intertradeireland.com/catchnewbusiness.

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