COVID-19 Equity Investment Fund

News article

NOTE: Applications to the COVID-19 Equity Investment Fund closed at midday on 31 December 2020.

The Minister for the Economy announced on 8 September 2020 that Invest NI is launching a new £5 million COVID-19 Equity Investment Fund (CEIF)

CEIF will help early stage high-growth potential businesses in Northern Ireland access financing to progress their business plans and prepare for recovery and growth.

Support, up to a maximum of 50% of the funding round, is available:

  • through equity investment or convertible loan notes of up to a maximum of £700,000; and
  • on pari passu terms (meaning on substantially the same terms) as other investors in the funding round.

Support in excess of £700,000 may be available by way of a commercial loan.

Applications for CEIF are now open. All legal documentation must be completed by 12 noon on 31 December 2020.


CEIF is open to all early stage high-growth potential businesses in Northern Ireland unable to access funding after maximising investment from all other funding sources, including institutional investors, private investors, the Future Fund and Invest NI’s Access to Finance funds.

Who is eligible?
As an early stage high-growth potential business, you are eligible if:

  • The majority of your business operation is based in Northern Ireland.
  • Your business is an unlisted small and medium-sized business (SME) operating in a market for less than seven years following the first commercial sale.
  • Your business was not in financial difficulty or subject to insolvency procedures at 31 December 2019, but is adversely impacted by COVID-19, including its ability to raise financing.
  • You can quantify the impact CEIF support will have on your business such as research and development into new products and/or helping you access new sales and marketing opportunities.
  • You can demonstrate your business has innovative technology, a significant international market opportunity, export growth prospects, credible promoters and a scalable business model.
  • You can demonstrate how the funding will increase the value of your business and outline potential exit opportunities.
  • You have already sourced investment from other investors but still have a shortfall in what you need to achieve your business plan.

CEIF supports technology and innovative businesses with a focus on the following sectors:

  • advance manufacturing, materials and engineering, including materials handling
  • digital and creative technologies
  • life and health sciences
  • cyber security
  • precision medicine
  • big data, internet of things and analytics

Who cannot apply?
The following businesses are not eligible to apply:

  • Banking and insurance companies.
  • Businesses operating in coal, steel or shipbuilding.
  • Businesses involved in decommissioning or the construction of nuclear power stations.
  • Manufacturing businesses associated with the processing and marketing of tobacco and tobacco products.
  • Businesses investing in airport infrastructure unless related to environmental protection or accompanied by investment necessary to mitigate or reduce its negative environmental impact.
  • Businesses facing difficulty within the meaning of Article 22 of the State Aid COVID-19 Temporary Measures (PDF, 256K) at June 2020.
  • Agricultural producers associated with the processing and marketing of agricultural products supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
  • Agricultural producers in fisheries and aquaculture supported by the European Fisheries Fund.
  • Businesses providing general education to children of school age.
  • Businesses supporting or refurbishing retail facilities.
  • Businesses working in the synthetic fibres sector.
  • Businesses operating in defence and safety.

How to apply

Applications can only be made online.

If you have reviewed your funding needs with existing and potential funders and can confirm there is a gap as a direct result of COVID-19, please contact Invest NI to progress an application.

If you are an existing Invest NI customer, you should contact your Client Executive.

If you are not an Invest NI customer, you should use the enquiry form to contact the CEIF Team at Invest NI who will assign you a Client Executive.

How you can prepare to apply
CEIF is now open to applications and detailed guidance notes (PDF, 410K) are available.

You will need the following information to complete the online application:

  • Your business name.
  • Your contact name and number.
  • Your business address and postcode.
  • The date you established your business in Northern Ireland.
  • If applicable, the group structure of your business.
  • Number of people you currently employ in Northern Ireland and other locations.
  • The financial year end of your business.
  • The annual turnover of your business.
  • The balance sheet total of your business.
  • Your company registration number or CRN issued by Companies House, beginning with NI followed by six numbers, for example NI123456.

You will also need to provide the following documentation electronically:

After completing your funding proposal, the online application process should take approximately one hour, providing you have all the necessary information available. You can save your application and return to it at any time before the closing date.

More information

If you have any enquiries about the COVID-19 Equity Investment Fund please complete this enquiry form.

First published 8 September 2020