Invest NI programme helps propel entrepreneur to success


Magherafelt entrepreneur George Brownlee is hoping to fast track his software for vets to commercial success with the help of Invest Northern Ireland’s Propel programme.

An experienced farm animal vet, Mr Brownlee realised that farm productivity and vets’ effectiveness could be improved by sharing detailed information about the health and productivity of the animals. This gave him the idea for his web-based software product VetIMPRESS, which allows farmers and vets to collect and view information about the animals in their care.

Mr Brownlee is currently taking part in the Propel programme, which aims to establish successful fast growth, knowledge intensive businesses that could generate significant export sales and boost the local economy. The programme provides entrepreneurs with salary support and the skills, expertise, and networks to fast track the development of their cutting-edge business ideas into profitable global enterprises.

Mr Brownlee will market VetIMPRESS through his company, Farmvet Systems. He says: “Farmers and vets realise teamwork is crucial to success. With VetIMPRESS farmers and vets can build up information which vets can then interpret and report to the farm team. This allows the whole team to get a full picture of the health and productivity of the farm and start making a real difference, pulling together for the benefit of the farm business instead of fire fighting individual problems.

“We’ve already had a lot of interest in the product and we hope to officially launch it in the UK in October. After that we want to develop VetIMPRESS for the worldwide marketplace.”

Mr Brownlee is one of 21 entrepreneurs taking part in the Propel programme, which offers master classes, specialist advice from local and international experts, access to potential investors, strategic business planning support, a hot desk at an incubation centre and a research visit to an overseas market. Extensive one-to-one mentoring is also provided.

He says: “The Propel programme has been instrumental in developing our business idea. It has helped us with everything from our messaging to our metrics. For vets who received no business training through college this had been essential to making us realise what it takes to make a business succeed. In ten months Propel has helped us to achieve things we would have taken ten years to stumble through left to our own limited experience.”

Bill Scott, Invest NI’s Director of Economic Development, says: “There is no shortage of innovative ideas in Northern Ireland, which when combined with commercial acumen can produce successful businesses.

“Our Propel programme is helping participants to maximise the commercial potential of their ideas and generate the best possible return for themselves, their investors and the local economy.”