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 (Invest 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.

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 Vouchers calls per year. 

Innovate UK Edge in Northern Ireland

Innovate UK EDGE Northern Ireland, formerly known as the Enterprise Europe Network, supports and advises businesses across the UK and helps them find collaboration partners, access funding for research and development, and improve their presence in new markets. 

Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is the main source of European funding for collaborative research and innovation. Invest NI can help Northern Ireland businesses find Horizon collaboration partners and opportunities, and understand if they meet the criteria for application. Find out more about Horizon Europe support.

Innovate UK

Innovate UK run funding competitions to enable individual businesses and groups to pursue research and innovation opportunities. Some of these competitions are open for collaborative projects led by any UK-based companies. Find 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 KTP scheme is run by Innovate UK and co-funded by Invest NI. They partner businesses and graduates, matching project requirements with management or technical skills and academic disciplines.

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. Centres that currently operate in NI include connected health, sustainable energy and agri-food. Find out more about competence centres in Northern Ireland.

Co-Innovate programme

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 supporting cross-border research partnerships, business-to-business partnerships and network/cluster projects.