New programme to support SMEs to achieve their Ambition to Grow

Date published: 27 September 2022

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons launched a new Invest Northern Ireland programme today to support the growth of local SME businesses across Northern Ireland.

Mel Chittock, Invest NI interim CEO; Alan McKeown, Chief Transformation Officer, Invest NI; and Economy Minister Gordon Lyons.
Mel Chittock, Invest NI interim CEO; Alan McKeown, Chief Transformation Officer, Invest NI; and Economy Minister Gordon Lyons.

Ambition to Grow is a £1.8million regionally focussed support programme. It has been developed by Invest NI to support innovative, export-driven SMEs to create jobs and sell outside Northern Ireland. 

The Minister said:

“I am delighted to announce this new support for our local businesses. As a competitive programme, Ambition to Grow will offer valuable financial support, alongside Invest NI’s expertise, to local SMEs from across Northern Ireland. The programme is being specifically managed by Invest NI’s Regional Team and will ensure businesses in every region will benefit. It will help them to create skilled jobs, grow their business through exports, and work towards reaching a turnover of over £1million.”

Applications will open on Monday 24 October, and will close at 12 noon on Friday 25 November 2022. More information is available on Invest NI’s Ambition to Grow webpage. 

The application form and eligibity checker will be available on the webpage from 12 noon Monday 24 October.

Following the application process, each successful business will receive up to £45,000 in support towards the creation of a minimum of three jobs and business development activities.

The Minister added:

“My Department’s 10X Economic Vision recognises that we are a small, competitive economy and highlights the important role that SMEs play in developing this success further. This programme will enable successful SMEs to avail of support that will help increase their capacity, business knowledge, and to upskill existing and new employees, to take their growth to the next level. The ultimate goal is to increase the number of SMEs across all areas of Northern Ireland successfully growing and competing globally.”

Support will be awarded to applicants on a competitive basis. Applications will be assessed and scored, with the highest scoring companies awarded funding, following a successful validation interview.

Mel Chittock, Invest NI interim CEO, said:

“As the business landscape has continually evolved we’re exploring new ways in which we can effectively provide best-fit support to businesses. Ambition to Grow has been designed to offer a new competitive approach, with a focus on supporting ambitious, innovative SMEs that are in the earliest stages of their development and who have had no support from us in the past five years. The support will be split evenly across our Regional Office network, with the top ten applications from each region receiving support.

“To help businesses understand this new approach and if the programme is a good fit for them, we are hosting information sessions in each of the 11 council areas from 12 to 20 October. Interested businesses can book to attend an information session in their local area to meet our Regional Business teams and find out about the programme. I would encourage all eligible SMEs to attend and find out about how we can support the early stages of your business growth journey.”

For more information on how to apply or book to attend an information event, please visit Invest NI’s Ambition to Grow webpage at Invest NI website

Notes to editors: 

1. The Department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the Department’s internal records management system. The Department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The Department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.

2. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:

3. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at .

4. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

Share this page

Back to top