Belfast Telegraph

With our help, your business need not suffer growing pains

Ian Murphy, Invest NI's Director of Growth and Scaling, explains how firms hoping to expand can capitalise with the Business Growth Programme

A strong economy is important because it is central to all our lives and we are all acutely aware of the pressures which the current economic downturn is causing.

Invest NI is committed to helping local businesses start, develop and grow. To help achieve this we have expanded our range of support to ensure it meets the ever-changing needs of local businesses.

The Jobs Fund is one example of how we are helping to create employment and rebuild the economy and over 1,000 businesses have already benefited and over 3,000 new jobs have been created.

The Business Growth Programme (BGP) forms part of the Jobs Fund initiative.

The Business Growth Programme provides support to help business owners with a scalable, high growth business to accelerate growth. It is available to existing Invest NI clients and includes a series of workshops, one-to-one mentoring and peer group learning. While there is no cost for each company to participate in the programme, businesses contribute 50% towards the cost of the mentoring support, estimated at £2k-£3k.

In addition to the advice and mentoring available, participating businesses may also be eligible for employment grant support for up to three new workers.

The Business Growth Programme isn't restricted to one area of industry. The 36 participants to have completed the programme so far come from a diverse range of sectors including software development, construction products, engineering, food, textiles, consumer products, medical device technologies and digital media.

Indeed, the number of success stories resulting from the programme is growing steadily.

For example, SAM Mouldings in Antrim as well as Blue Zinc IT in Belfast announced in recent months that they have secured valuable contracts in Great Britain following their participation on the programme.

Businesses such as these are the lifeblood of the Northern Ireland economy. It's vitally important that they receive relevant, accessible and timely support to help them grow and succeed.

Our support is not just financial and the time spent by Invest NI staff helping businesses identify their barriers to growth and taking steps to overcome their specific challenges has proven to be vital.

The next Business Growth Programme will start in mid-October. Invest NI clients interested in taking part should submit an application form by the end of August.

Given the time commitment required for the programme, any business wishing to participate on the programme must currently employ at least 10 staff.

Belfast Telegraph