More than 250 local companies have signed up for an Invest Northern Ireland briefing about how they can access European support for the new products and innovative technologies required for faster growth.

Senior executives from companies across a broad range of sectors are attending a one-day ‘Financing Innovation’ workshop today (Friday) on funding and other services available through the Innovation Relay Centre (IRC) network, a European Commission initiative to help companies and research centres turn innovative technologies into new products and services.

Part of Invest NI, the IRC in Northern Ireland, which is based in Lisburn, is linked directly to a network of 68 similar centres across Europe.

Commenting on the event, Prof. Fabian Monds, Invest NI Chairman, who will chair the workshop’s morning session, said: “The impressive response to this important initiative indicates an extremely encouraging level of interest among many local companies in innovation.

“Demand for this presentation was particularly strong among small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), the backbone of the Northern Ireland economy. A majority of the companies taking part in this briefing are SMEs.

“Innovation, of course, is Invest NI’s strategic theme and our objective is to encourage and assist more companies to compete more aggressively and successfully in global markets by investing in new technologies, processes and products.

“We will help companies with practical advice and support about funding including how to access assistance readily available through the IRC and other European networks.
“The IRC network is particularly important because it was set up by the European Commission to promote the growth of SMEs. It seeks to achieve this by facilitating partnerships and technology transfer mainly between SMEs,” added Prof. Monds.

During the workshop, held at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast, expert advice on European funding sources will be provided by Dr Uffe Bundgaard-Joergensen, a founder member of Gate2Growth, a European Commission-backed internet service that promotes business innovation and entrepreneurship.

Among other keynote speakers are Richard Hadden, Manager of the Invention and Innovation Programme at NESTA (The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), the largest source of seed investment for early-stage businesses in the UK; and Dr Nigel Carr of Invest NI’s Innovation, Research and Technology group.

Companies wishing more information about the Innovation Relay Centre should contact: Marshall Addidle on (0)28 9262 3181, e-mail