Ambition To Grow | Supporting Women programme

News article

Apply for a chance to receive up to £30,000 in funding

Invest Northern Ireland's (Invest NI) latest programme aims to support women-led businesses to access support, create jobs and sell innovative products or services outside Northern Ireland.

The Ambition to Grow | Supporting Women programme, supported by Women in Business Northern Ireland, will provide grant support of up to £30,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses that have a woman in a key decision-making position.

The funding is aimed at helping to create new employment within the business, and assisting with the costs of targeting markets outside Northern Ireland, technical development activities, and upskilling existing and new employees.

Successful applicants will also be able to build valuable connections, working with other women-led businesses and encouraging shared learning and leadership development.


As well as being women-led, to be eligible for the programme businesses must:

  • be ambitious and innovative, 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 the growth of the business into markets outside Northern Ireland
  • be able to demonstrate the need for government support for new employment and business development activities to take place
  • have annual turnover under £1 million or sales to customers outside Northern Ireland of less than £300,000

This programme is aimed at SMEs that are not currently Invest NI customers, and that have not received an offer or payment of grant support from Invest NI within the last five years (excluding COVID-19 emergency funds, Economic Recovery Innovation Grant, Innovation Vouchers or Access to Finance funding such as Techstart NI Proof of Concept grants).

What is available

A maximum of £30,000 is available for each successful applicant as follows:

  • £10,000 towards new employment within the businesses to help with the creation of two new full-time equivalent positions*
  • £10,000 towards business development activities at a support rate of 50% of eligible costs which can include expenditure on market, product, or skills development
  • £10,000 on the completion of an Export Health Check, Export Marketing Plan, Innovate NI Self-Assessment, and participation in a series of Invest NI Leadership Development workshops

*Part-time roles can be supported with one part-time position of 15-30 hours being equivalent to 0.5 full-time positions.

Financial payments are not up-front and are dependent on carrying out specific activities which will be detailed in a formal offer of support to the business.

How to apply

You should use the Ambition to Grow eligibility checker to check if you are eligible to apply. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you will be issued with a link to an online application form via Invest NI's online portal. Top-ranked applicants will be invited for a face-to-face meeting to validate their application.

The deadline for applications is midday on Friday 10 November 2023.

For more information about the programme, download Ambition to Grow | Supporting Women - guidelines (PDF, 232K) and Ambition to Grow | Supporting Women - FAQ (PDF, 186K) documents.

Drop-in clinics

Invest NI's Regional Business Network will host a series of drop-in clinics to highlight the programme and the support available. Women in Business will also be in attendance on the day as supporters/partners of the programme.: 

  • Guildhall, Derry~Londonderry: Monday 9 October, 9:30am-11AM
  • Invest NI HQ, Belfast: Thursday 12 October, 9:30am-11am
  • Invest NI Southern Region Office, Drumalane Mill, Newry: Wednesday 18 October, 10am-11:30am
  • The Workhouse, Enniskillen: Friday 20 October, 10am-11:30am

No registration is necessary and you do not need to apply for the Ambition to Grow programme to attend these clinics.

First published 21 September 2023