Ten local companies are predicting a boost to their bottom line after identifying aspects of their operations that could be improved by taking a more innovative approach.

The companies are drawing up action plans for increasing innovation in priority areas of their business after taking part in a new Invest Northern Ireland programme, which aims to help companies strengthen their performance and increase profitability by generating and applying new ideas.

The Accelerating Innovation Pilot Programme, organised by Invest NI’s Business Improvement Services in collaboration with the Centre for Competitiveness, was supported by two world-leading experts on innovation. Darryl Bubner of Wave Global and Allan Ryan of Managed Innovation International, both Australian based companies, partnered with Invest NI and the Centre of Competitiveness to help the participating companies to develop an innovative approach to running their businesses.

Tracy Meharg, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development Services, comments: “The programme is based around generating and assessing new ideas and integrating these into commercial practice. This involves a process of change that can stimulate growth and create value and can be applied to any aspect of a business’s operations including products, services, processes, systems, organisations, resources, policies and technologies.”

The programme reflects Invest NI’s recently published Principles for Business Support, which seek to offer customised business solutions to help companies achieve sustainable growth.

Bob Barbour, Chief Executive of the Centre for Competitiveness, comments: “This is an excellent programme which, in a very hands-on way, is helping companies develop their innovation, productivity and quality, so helping them to strengthen performance and achieve commercial gain.”

Each of the participating companies spent up to two days with the course leaders, during which time they collected data about innovation in the business, generated and assessed new ideas and developed a prioritised programme for implementing improvements.

Brian Baird of participating company, Meridio Ltd, said that he found the innovation programme to be very useful: ”Firstly it was invaluable in identifying what our innovation strengths and weakness were, and secondly, it provided a process and practical ideas for improvement. We are now particularly focused on improving how we capture and assess ideas in line with company strategy."

Barry Hagan, Vision Information Consulting Ltd, was also impressed with the programme. “Vision is regarded by our customers as an innovative company. However we are concerned that we don't fully tap into the creativity and innovation of our staff. The Invest NI programme has helped us immediately by focussing on how we can improve the management of the innovation process in our business. The emphasis in our innovation action plan is on how we gather, review, assess and action the innovative ideas that our staff generate.”

If you are interested in finding out more about this programme or other forms of business improvement support please contact Niall Casey, Business Improvement Services, Invest NI, 028 9054 4843 or e-mail