Invest NI is looking for 40 of Northern Ireland’s most innovative and ambitious businesses to take part in a new Ambition to Grow competition where you could receive up to £45,000 in funding, and ultimately become part of Invest Northern Ireland’s client portfolio.

Invest NI will provide support to create great jobs and to sell your innovative products or services outside Northern Ireland. They are looking for businesses that:

  • have the ambition to grow
  • are ambitious, innovative businesses with the ambition to grow sales to £1 million
  • have a product or service with a strong USP to take to markets outside Northern Ireland
  • are a start-up or an established company that has not worked with Invest NI before
  • need government support to create great jobs and to sell innovative products or services outside Northern Ireland

Ambition to Grow is designed specifically to help micro, small and medium local enterprises to create jobs and grow exports. To make sure they reach as many businesses as possible, the Invest NI Regional Offices have teamed up with local council partners to host information events in cities and towns in all 11 council areas.

Financial support

Funding will be awarded to applicants on a competitive basis. Applications will be assessed and scored, with the highest scoring companies in each region awarded funding following a successful validation interview.

A maximum of £45,000 is available for each successful application as follows:

  • £5,000 per new job (a minimum of 3 jobs must be created) over and above existing employment levels within the business (to a maximum of £30,000)
  • £10,000 towards business development activities, where the amount of support provided shall be no more than 50% of the cost of eligible activities listed in the application
  • £5,000 on the completion of an export health check and development of an export growth plan, to the satisfaction of Invest NI by 1 March 2023

Financial support payments are not up-front and are dependent on the execution of specific activities as outlined in any offer of support such as job creation or exporting.

This programme is only available to businesses that are not currently Invest NI clients.

This is a two-part application process, with the top ranking online applications being invited for a face to face interview to validate the information provided in the application.

Ambition to Grow has been developed as a digital application to support businesses across the Invest NI Regional Office areas.

Who is eligible to apply?

Only businesses which are not Invest NI client businesses are eligible to take part in Ambition to Grow. Businesses must meet all of the following criteria:

  • The business must be based in Northern Ireland, with directors based in Northern Ireland.
  • The business must be a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME).
  • The business must provide a value added commercial product and/or service.
  • The business must be able to demonstrate that it is a viable business and will remain so for the duration of the project, with evidence that your business has sufficient resources to meet the match funding requirement.
  • The business must currently have either annual turnover less than £1 million or have annual sales to customers outside NI less than £300,000.
  • The business must intend to increase employee headcount by a minimum of 3 new full time permanent employees over the next 18 months.
  • The business must intend to grow sales from customers outside NI.
  • The proposed business activity must be a strategic fit with our current business strategy and aligned to the Department for the Economy’s 10X Economic Vision.
  • The business must accept the completion of Invest NI customer due diligence checks on the business, including a credit check.

Who is not eligible to apply?

The following businesses are not eligible to apply:

  • Businesses already in receipt of or intending to gain other government support for the project.
  • Businesses that have an outstanding liability to Invest NI brought about through grant clawback proceedings. If a satisfactory repayment plan is in place, the business may submit an application for consideration.
  • Businesses or any member of senior management within the business that are subject to a current bankruptcy order, Individual Voluntary Arrangement, Company Voluntary Arrangement, County Court Judgement, or Company Director Disqualification.
  • Businesses involved in agricultural production, fisheries and aquaculture sectors (production and processing), steel, coal, shipbuilding, synthetic fibres, transport and its infrastructure, energy generation, wholesale, retail (including on-line), distribution & infrastructure.
  • Applications which include or relate to activities that Invest Northern Ireland considers as ineligible or as involving an unacceptable reputational risk, such as gambling, tobacco products and drug-based products, which are not authorised as medicines.

How to apply

Before applying you should check if you are eligible to apply for Ambition To Grow. Please ensure you have read the Ambition To Grow Guidance Notes (PDF, 300K).

The deadline for applications is midday on Friday 25 November 2022.

Apply now to Ambition to Grow

How can we help?