Innovative local companies were rewarded for their commitment to research and development at the 16th annual Invest Northern Ireland SMART Awards.
A record 22 individuals and small companies received awards of up to £45,000 towards funding R&D projects across a range of sectors, from medical technology to environmental protection.
Presenting the awards Leslie Morrison, Invest NI’s chief executive, said: “The wealth of our economy in the future will depend greatly on businesses and individuals, such as today’s winners, who embrace the concepts of innovation, entrepreneurship and internationalisation.
“It’s vital that innovation is combined with a clear commercial focus, and I’m delighted to see that many of the award winners have identified the potential to sell their products into the global marketplace.”
The SMART scheme provides grants to help small businesses undertake research into the technical feasibility of concepts and to work these up to prototype stage. This year’s competition has generated a total investment of £1.5 million in research and development: £600,000 by the participating businesses with Invest NI providing £900,000 in award funding.
“By recognising the contribution of technology pioneers through these SMART awards, we hope to encourage more small businesses to take innovative ideas to market, and help stimulate an ethos of creativity and enterprise right across our small business sector,” added Leslie Morrison.
The SMART awards are supported by the EU Building Sustainable Prosperity programme.