Speaking at the launch Christian said: “Value creation and innovation ultimately always occurs in companies. But we increasingly see that their success is not only a function of their internal strengths but depends also on the partners they are connected with and on the business environment in which they operate. Invest NI’s Collaborative Growth programme is a promising piece in the puzzle to enhance the odds for Northern Ireland firms to succeed in competition, generating benefits both for them and for the Northern Ireland economy."
An example of how collaboration can produce success can be seen in the Kilkeel-based Sea Source who in the last 18 months secured £8million of new business as a result of the work by the Kilkeel Harbour Works network of 14 businesses.
Davey Hill from Sea Source, commented: “It is crucial that we continue to build on the work that has already been done, to ensure that we deliver a sustainable future through diversification and maximisation of our assets and skills, and continue support our local community.
There is 100 per cent funding up to £25,000 available to SME-led networks requiring facilitation support to scope innovative collaborative projects with the potential to enhance business competitiveness.
Groups intending to apply for the Collaborative Growth programme must consist of at least four Northern Ireland private sector companies, of which one must be an Invest NI customer. Other group members may include local, national or international stakeholders, including those from the academic and public sectors, as appropriate.
Invest NI will particularly welcome applications from those groups addressing challenges related to MATRIX thematic priority areas, including Agrifood; Advanced Manufacturing; Digital/ICT; Life and Health Sciences; Materials and Engineering (AMME) and Sustainable Energy.
Part of Northern Ireland’s strategy in support of clustering will be benchmarked during a four year peer-to-peer project recently funded under the Interreg Europe Programme. The Clusters3 project was officially launched in Bilbao, Spain at the end of May 2016 and features representation from regional and national governments in Spain, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and the United Kingdom, in the form of Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Invest Northern Ireland. TThe globally recognised Competitiveness Institute (TCI) will provide advisory services to the consortium. The overall project is worth €1,832,637
The project will explore new opportunities in cluster policy within the framework of regional innovation and smart specialisation strategies, with the aim of enhancing competitiveness, growth and participation in global value chains amongst local SMEs. Each partner will, over the life of the project, identify best practice and engage in knowledge transfer to improve innovation delivery. Read further information on the project and its objectives on the project website.