Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A new funding directory for Northern Ireland businesses has been launched.

The directory was unveiled recently at Titanic Belfast with guest speakers including First Minister Rt. Hon Peter Robinson, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, Chief Executive of Invest NI Alastair Hamilton and Policy Chairman of the FSB Wilfred Mitchell OBE.

Speaking at the launch, Diane Dodds said:
"The European Union has a large portfolio of funding programmes that may not be well-known within the Northern Ireland business community. Hence, I have launched a Directory of Funding for businesses containing 38 funding programmes as well as 4 key support initiatives on obtaining financial support.
I am indebted to the many funding agencies in the European Union, Northern Ireland Government Departments and intermediary organisations that have assisted me in producing the Directory. They have provided valuable information and signposted me to businesses in Northern Ireland who have accessed such funds."

How Does The Workplace Pension Work?

Which workers are you obliged to automatically enrol into a workplace pension scheme?


There are three categories of worker for the purpose of auto-enrolment.

·         Eligible Jobholders – eligible for auto-enrolment;

·         Non Eligible Jobholders – not eligible, but they can opt in. If they do, you must contribute to that pension;

·         Entitled Workers – entitled to join a pension scheme if they wish, but it does not need to be a qualifying pension scheme and you are not required to contribute.


Eligible jobholders are those who are at least 22 years old, but have not yet reached State Pension Ag and earn more than the minimum earnings threshold.  This is set at £8,105 per year for tax year 2012-2013.


Non-eligible jobholders are those who are either (a) aged at least 16 but under 22, or aged at least State Pension Age but under 75, and earning over £8,105 per year, or (b) aged at least 16 but under 75 and earning at least £5,564 (for tax year 2012-13), but less than £8,105 per year.


Entitled workers are those who are at least 16 but under 75, and earning less than £5,564 per year.


In all cases, the worker must ordinarily work in the UK under their contract.  In addition, the provisions cover workers, which is a wider category than employees.  It does not, however, include people who are paid a fee for their services, such as a self employed, independent contractors, and consultants.


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Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Growth Loan Fund - WhiteRock Capital Partners

The Growth Loan Fund is managed by Braveheart Ventures Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

This fund provide loans to established SME companies seeking access to growth finance. Whilst a positive trading history is desirable, where this is not evident businesses should be able to demonstrate a recent return to profitability with a clear plan to build on this.  Loans will be between £50k and £500k per transaction, over a maximum 5 years with repayments on monthly amortising basis (ie capital and interest).

read more >>>>

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Access to Finance Strategy

In the current economic climate it’s harder than ever to get a bank loan or funding to invest in business development or business growth.  Businesses are faced with lower levels of grant availability and more stringent lending regimes. The combination of this means it is often harder for them to finance growth.

Invest Northern Ireland has put in place a £100m Access to Finance Initiative to ensure that companies with high growth potential are not held back because they cannot access finance. Through the suite of funds Invest NI will be able to offer a continuum of funding for business seeking between £1k and £2m.


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Construction tender changes

Construction businesses wishing to tender for contracts will need to meet new requirements from January 2013.

These important changes to mandatory requirements apply to participation in tender competitions for works contracts up to £4.3 million. These changes will be in effect from 1 January 2013

read more

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Monday, 1 October 2012

Workplace Pensions. We're all in.

A reminder that starting from October 2012, all employers must enrol eligible workers into a qualifying workplace pension scheme.  The date you have to do this by depends on the size of your company, but to give yourself time to prepare, visit The Pensions Regulator at www.tpr.gov.uk/actnow, where you'll find out all you need to know.  read more:

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Thursday, 27 September 2012

New National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates will come into force on 1 October 2012 | nibusinessinfo.co.uk

National Minimum Wage rates changes

New National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates will come into force on 1 October 2012

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour that most workers in the UK are entitled to be paid. The rate depends on age and whether the worker is an apprentice.

The new rates will come into force on 1 October 2012, as follows:

£6.19 per hour for workers aged 21 and over - a rise of 11 pence
£4.98 per hour for 18 to 20 year olds - no change
£3.68 per hour for workers above school leaving age but under 18 - no change
£2.65 per hour for apprentices - a rise of 5 pence

Read more:

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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Northern Ireland's empty shops 'should be a wake-up call'

Research published this week revealing that Northern Ireland has the worst shop vacancy rate in the UK shows that action is needed to reverse the decline in town centres, according to experts.
The research from property consultancy Lisney found almost a quarter of Belfast's shops are empty with the percentage of empty shops in NI approaching double the UK average.
Lisney's state of the property sector report has found Northern Ireland's current shop vacancy rate is 19 per cent. This is compared with 14.4 per cent in 2011. The current UK average is 11.4 per cent. Read more:

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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Bristol Pound - Our City. Our Money


On Wednesday 19th September Bristol celebrated the launch of Bristol’s own currency with an evening of local festivities. The first Bristol Pounds were spent at a unique Bristol Pound night market in the Old City.

Read more:

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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

InterTradeIreland "Upping your Game" Meet the Buyer

InterTradeIreland with its partner organisations are holding a series of Meet the Buyer events.  The Upping your Game Meet the Buyer events will provide SMEs with an overview of the all-island public procurement market and the opportunities available.
Next Event: Cookstown, 27th September 2012, Glenavon Hotel.

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Tuesday, 4 September 2012


The Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) has been working with Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and People 1st in offering WorldHost Customer Service training.  DEL have set aside a pot of funding and are now offering the training programme for £20 per person for those involved in hospitality, the normal price is £210.

WorldHost was first developed in Canada to train 40,000 volunteers and front-line tourism staff for the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. Since then, over one million customer-facing staff globally have been trained on WorldHost customer service programmes. The programme is delivered over 2 days – with each participant receiving a World Host and Edexcel Certificate in Customer Service. 

Employers Support Programme

The Department for Employment and Learning has allocated substantial funding over the next 3 years for the Employer Support Programme to support FE College engagement with employers in a variety of sectors, including Creative and Digital Media.
The Creative and Digital media sector includes any SMEs or micro-businesses involved in:
Film, Television, Video production or post-production 
Website development or management 
Mobile phones 
Computer Gaming 
Music Production 
Graphic Design and Publishing 
Marketing and Advertising 
Digital Archiving
Within Northern Ireland, significant capacity exists for companies to enter into new markets with goods and services designed and manufactured locally. It is the case, however, that many companies find significant difficulties with the design, development, manufacture, testing and marketing of new products and services. 

The FE sector in Northern Ireland has the potential to strategically and tactically support small business in addressing these barriers to exploiting innovation.
The College Employer Support Programme has 3 main objectives:
To provide practical support to small business in priority sectors to enhance their capacity to develop new commercial products and processes; 
To stimulate innovation, R&D, creativity and entrepreneurial activity in small business; and 
To improve the FE sector capacity and expertise to deliver skills support to companies through establishing a coordinated, expert service delivery team.
The programme's aim is to meet these objectives by bringing industry and the FE sector together through a range of support services to SMEs. 
These services are available free to business in the first year of the project and include:
research and development (R&D) project support to assist SME's to develop new products and services, especially those incorporating new technologies or business practices; 
industry mentoring to SME's to provide specialist knowledge in technology, business management or international marketing; 
seminars or workshops helping with new developments in the Creative and Digital Media sector; 
development of micro-clusters by grouping of companies, which can collaborate in their services or product ranges to take advantage of international opportunities; 
knowledge enhancement engagements, with FE staff working on site in industry to deliver research and development services; 
industry projects, which allow students to work directly with companies, with support/ mentoring from College staff.
So, any SMEs or micro-businesses involved in the Creative and Digital Media sector who would like to discuss participation in the Programme can contact

Tony Talbot 
to talk about their needs and the best way we can help meet those needs.

The Employer Support Programme is financed by the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) through its Further Education Sector Employer Support Programme.

Resource Efficiency Scheme

Energy and Waste

It makes good business sense to get the most out of your resources and reduce or eliminate waste. Invest NI offers advice, consultancy and financial support to help you do this.

Applicants with water, materials, waste and energy costs  of more than £30k per annum can access free audit and technical consultancy support through Invest NI's Sustainable Development team to help them identify suitable projects.

What areas are advised on?  
  • tailored advice and training on resource efficiency issues.
  • workshops on energy and waste issues.
  • advice and information, signposting to online advice to help businesses implement resource efficiency savings.

For eligible companies, Invest NI can:
  • arrange for an energy survey of businesses or an audit of water and materials consumption to identify areas for cost reduction.
  • arrange for consultancy support to help you implement resource efficiency projects.

What financial support do we offer?

Interest free loans are available from £3,000 up to £400,000 for four years. The size of the loan depends on how much energy will be saved or the amount of carbon savings that can be achieved.


The total budget allocation for the Scheme over the period 2012-2015 is £1.65 million (£550K in each of the financial years 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15). 

Aim of Grant Funding
The aim of this funding is to encourage businesses to install equipment that will result in water or material efficiencies beyond regulatory requirements through provision of a capital grant of up to £49,999.  For reasons of financial control grants will only be available to those businesses Invest NI currently supports and monitors – and businesses considering an application will be expected to have discussed potential projects with their Client Executive before an application is submitted.
Invest NI plans to assist projects that in total will generate water and materials savings of more than £880k per annum in each of the 3 years of the scheme.  

Examples of projects that will be considered include:
  • Equipment to recover value from waste and effluent streams
  • Equipment to recover materials that would otherwise be vented to the atmosphere or discharged to land or waterways
  • Equipment that improves the efficiency of raw material consumption through improved processing or equipment that enables re-use of waste materials in-house

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Sward - Future Funding Call Schedule

SWARD plan to open Programme Measures for funding applications as follows, however this is subject to the availability of funding.
Measure 3.1 Open from 30 July 2012 to 12 noon Friday 28 September 2012
read more:

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Friday, 20 July 2012

Your views sought for review of the Small Business Rate Relief scheme

Small Business Rate Relief scheme - have your say
Your views sought for review of the Small Business Rate Relief scheme.

Read More:

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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

ARC NW Calls For Applications Now Open

Call for applications under Measures 3.1 (Farm Diversification), 3.2 (Business Creation & Development) & 3.3 (Tourism Activities) has opened on 1 June 2012 and will close at 12 Noon on 3 August 2012.

For Further Information Click Here

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Innovation Vouchers Programme Now Open

Innovation Vouchers are designed to enable small and medium-sized Northern Ireland businesses (limited companies, sole traders, partnerships) to access knowledge and expertise to develop innovative solutions to business issues.

Read More:

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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

How will the 2012 Budget affect your business?

How will the 2012 Budget affect your business?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, presented the 2012 Budget on 21 March 2012.

Budget 2012 maintains the Government's strategy and sets out further action it will take in three areas: a stable economy; a fairer, more efficient and simpler tax system; and reforms to support growth."

read more

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Research and Development | Boosting Business Call For Applications Is Now Open And Ends On The 19th April 2012


Our support under the Boosting Business through R&D theme is designed to help you ensure your business remains competitive and grows its market share.
With our help, you can invest in new products, services and processes, use design to improve your business performance, gain a better understanding of the technical, legislative and intellectual property issues you may face and access collaborative networks to access new business opportunities that might otherwise be beyond your reach.
New to R&D
The current R&D Call for applications is now open and ends on 19th April 2012. We are inviting applications from any small or medium sized business in Northern Ireland who have an idea for a new product or process that could help grow their business. We can give you up to £50,000 to:
  • investigate or plan your idea;
  • make and test a prototype;
  • experiment and refine your design; and
  • intellectual property costs.
Other Areas of Support
As part of the range of measures available under Boosting Business, we can offer you support for R&D activities and help you to mitigate risk when developing new products and getting them to market. You can also choose from:
Click through to the area you are interested in, complete our short enquiry form or call us on            0800 181 4422       to find out how Invest NI can help your business.

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InterTradeIreland Open Applications For Elevate - Sales Development Programme

Elevate - Sales Development Programme for Small Business

If you’re a small company that needs to increase its sales, why not take your business up a level with InterTradeIreland Elevate - our sales development programme for small business.

Elevate will provide financial assistance to help you identify cross-border markets/customers across the island and win new business.

All you have to do is complete a short application form and if approved for support you will then get to choose one of our approved experts who will work with you to develop a winning cross-border sales plan for your business, kick start your sales and get on the fast-track to crossborder trading!

You’ll benefit from free one-to-one advice and support from your very own expert within your industry or sector to develop your own sales development plan.

Support is available for:

  • Identification of Sales leads
  • Sales Negotiations
  • Market Research
  • Advice on the Development of Marketing Materials – (excluding printing costs).
It is 100% funded by InterTradeIreland and the application process is very simple.


  • Work with a marketing expert to develop your winning sales plan;
  • Identify new customers and markets across the island;
  • Increase your sales.

Am I eligible?

To take part in the Elevate programme - companies must:

  • Be registered in Northern Ireland or Ireland;
  • Be a manufacturing or tradeable service company with an annual turnover below €1.2m/£1m;
  • Have a satisfactory track record and a trading history in their home market (minimum of 18 mths);
  • Be focused on winning new cross-border sales;
  • Have not generated more than 30% of their total turnover in the target cross-border market;
  • Have the capacity (human, financial and production) to deliver the project;
  • Have a sufficiently unique product that does not displace existing products in the market place.
  • Have not previously participated on InterTradeIreland FUSION or Acumen programmes
NOTE: Preference will be given to companies of 10 employees or less and spaces are limited.
The next submission dates are 30th April and 30th May 2012.

Apply now

For more information contact:

Roisin Keenan
Elevate Project Manager
            00 44 28 3083 4143      
Paddy Savage
Trade Team Operations Manager
            00 44 28 3083 4110       

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