Invest NI Pilot Programme to Help Companies in North West Boost Profits

Companies in the North West will be the first to benefit from a pilot programme launched by Invest Northern Ireland that is designed to help them grow faster profitably by investing in innovation.

The new programme ‘Innovate for Profit’ was announced by Invest NI’s North West Local Office at an event in Bushtown House Hotel, Coleraine last week. Around 20 companies from the North West took part in the event, which was supported by Invest NI’s Business Improvement Unit.

Kevin Helferty, Invest NI’s North West Local Office manager, speaking at the event, said: “The objective of this pilot programme is to encourage and support local companies to achieve profitable success by putting innovation into the heartbeat of their business processes and culture.

“This means helping companies to think, create, innovate and to identify new products and services and different ways of doing things that will enable them to compete more effectively and successfully for business. This approach is designed to help them to survive and thrive and thereby create the conditions that will lead to new job opportunities throughout the region.

“Our aim in launching this pilot programme is to start a process that will lead to a sharper focus on innovation in the North West by expanding the number of worldclass companies. The first stage will involve Invest NI working with approximately 20 client companies - small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) - that are focused on growth in international markets.

“One of our primary objectives will be to assist the SMEs to innovate, whether products or services, and thereby increase turnover by at least 25 per cent and profits by 50 per cent by the end of 2006. The 20 client companies will be assisted by Invest NI to increase their capability and overall competitiveness,” he added.

Participating companies would be able to draw support and guidance from Invest NI’s comprehensive portfolio of business development solutions.

The pilot programme, Mr Helferty said, would “create a number of local role models of companies which would encourage other businesses in the area, by demonstrating that an investment in innovation leads to tangible results and measurable growth in the shape of enhanced sales and profits that are factors that drive economic growth”.

“This initiative is an integral part of Invest NI’s objective, as detailed in the North West Action Plan, to help transform the North West into an innovation-driven and vibrant economy offering greater opportunities for all. We are seeking to achieve this by means of an active engagement and partnership with local business, the councils and other stakeholders throughout the region.”