Ambition To Grow competition

News article

Receive up to £45,000 in funding, and become part of Invest Northern Ireland’s client portfolio

Invest NI is looking for Northern Ireland's most innovative and ambitious businesses to join a new cohort of their Ambition to Grow competition. The competition offers businesses a chance to receive up to £45,000 in funding and ultimately become part of Invest Northern Ireland’s client portfolio.

The deadline for applications is midday on Friday 12 January 2024.

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

  • be ambitious, innovative businesses with a clear plan to grow sales to customers outside Northern Ireland
  • have a product or service with a strong unique selling point to take to markets outside Northern Ireland
  • be able to outline the potential for new employment within the business and demonstrate how these new roles will contribute to growth of the business into markets outside of Northern Ireland
  • be able to demonstrate the need for government support for new employment and market development activities to take place
  • have annual turnover under £1 million or sales to customers outside Northern Ireland of less than £300,000

Ambition to Grow is designed specifically to help micro, small and medium local enterprises to create jobs and grow exports.

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 Invest NI region awarded funding following a successful validation interview.

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

  • Up to £30,000 towards new employment within the business. The level of this support will depend on the number and type of new positions, the salary levels proposed and the number of hours each new role is contracted for.
  • Up to £10,000 towards business development activities at a support rate of up to 50% of eligible costs which can include expenditure on market, product, or skills development.
  • £5,000 on the completion of an Export Health Check, development of an Export Marketing Plan, and completion of an Innovate NI Self-Assessment.

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.

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?

This programme is primarily aimed at businesses that are not currently Invest NI customers. Businesses must meet all of the following criteria:

  • be ambitious, innovative businesses with a clear plan to grow sales to customers outside Northern Ireland.
  • have a product or service with a strong unique selling point to take to markets outside Northern Ireland.
  • be able to outline the potential for new employment within the business and demonstrate how these new roles will contribute to growth of the business into markets outside Northern Ireland.
  • be able to demonstrate the need for government support for new employment and market development activities to take place.
  • have annual turnover under £1m or sales to customers outside Northern Ireland of less than £300,000.

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 apply 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 (production and processing), steel, coal, shipbuilding, synthetic fibres, transport and its infrastructure, energy (its generation, distribution, and infrastructure), tourism accommodation, wholesale, retail (including on-line) & distribution.
  • applications which include or relate to activities that Invest NI 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

An application form can be accessed by successfully completing the Eligibility Checker.

For more information, see Ambition to Grow guidelines (PDF, 278K) and Ambition to Grow FAQs (PDF, 189K) documents.

Deadline

The Ambition to Grow competition closes at midday on Friday 12 January 2024.

Read more about Ambition to Grow.

    First published 27 September 2022