Business growth through collaboration

Funding and support for collaboration

A range of support is available for Northern Ireland businesses that are looking to collaborate with other companies, academia or research partners. The support can be advisory or financial and it can help strengthen your business, raise its profile and open up new business opportunities within and outside Northern Ireland.

Collaborative Growth Programme

Invest Northern Ireland (NI) Collaborative Growth programme provides funding of up to £25,000 to SME-led networks that want to work together on innovative projects. You must meet certain eligibility criteria to apply for funding under this programme. Find more information on the Invest NI's Collaborative Growth programme.

Innovation Vouchers

Innovation Vouchers enable small businesses to work with expert knowledge providers (such as universities and colleges) to develop innovative solutions to business issues. The voucher is worth up to £5,000. Invest NI typically hold four Innovation Voucher calls for applications per year. Learn more about the Innovation Vouchers.

Enterprise Europe Network

Invest NI also hosts the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) in Northern Ireland. The EEN supports and advises businesses across Europe and helps them find EU partners, access European funding for research and development, and improve their presence in new markets. Find out more about the Enterprise Europe Network.

Horizon 2020 Programme

Horizon 2020 is the main source of European funding for collaborative research and innovation. Invest NI can help Northern Ireland businesses find collaboration partners and opportunities, and understand if they meet the criteria for application. Financial support may also be available - see help for Horizon 2020 applicants in Northern Ireland.

Innovate UK

Innovate UK run funding competitions to enable individual business and groups to pursue research and innovation opportunities. Some of these competitions are open for collaborative projects led by any UK-based companies. Search Innovate UK competitions.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs)

A KTP is a three-way partnership between a business, an academic institution and a qualified graduate delivering a project lasting about two years. The scheme is run by Innovate UK and co-funded by Invest NI. Find out more about the Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme.

Competence centres

Competence centres bring together universities, research institutes and innovative businesses to carry out strategic collaborative research in areas with a direct industrial focus. Any NI-based business that wants to collaborate in applied research at a reduced cost can get involved. Four centres currently operate in NI: connected health, sustainable energy, advanced engineering and agri-food.

Co-Innovate programme

InterTradeIreland's Co-Innovate programme supports SMEs and micro-businesses in Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland, and Western Scotland to deliver success through innovation. There are different strands in the programme - some supporting cross-border research partnerships, business-to-business partnerships and network/cluster projects. Find out more about the Co-Innovate programme.