New venture capital fund open for business

Invest Northern Ireland today announced that a new suite of initiatives to support start-up and early stage businesses in Northern Ireland will be open for applications from 1 May. The support includes a £5 million venture fund element to focus on seed and early stage businesses, typically investing from £50,000 to £250,000. A £3 million proof of concept fund will provide funding to very early, non-university projects.

In addition, this initiative will assist young companies through investment readiness support, incorporating showcasing events, in-depth mentoring and guidance on intellectual property exploitation.

Announcing the support services, Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI’s Chief Executive, said:

“While many companies are currently preoccupied with the debilitating effects of the recession, it is important that we continue to put in place the foundations for future growth in our economy. The initiatives announced today will enable us to harness the knowledge and expertise from our businesses, universities and the community.

“Whilst many of the sectors we are hoping to develop, such as information technology, communications and life sciences offer high rewards, not all investments will succeed. Historically, market forces alone have not been sufficiently strong to allow technology investment in Northern Ireland to catch up with the rest of the UK. There remains a strong case for the need for public sector intervention in this regard.

“These initiatives will also bring a number of broader benefits to the local economy, including an increased volume of projects, a greater awareness of venture capital, and an increase in entrepreneurship and innovation.”

Invest NI has appointed E-Synergy to provide this support for early stage companies including the management of the funds. E-Synergy will work closely with potential private investors, including members of the Halo business angel network,to ensure that the required private, matched funding is made available for seed and early stage companies.

Richard Brook, Director of E-Synergy, said: “We are delighted to have won the contract to manage Invest NI’s suite of support initiatives for early stage companies. We look forward to working with entrepreneurs across the region to make their business vision a commercial reality. We believe that an integrated approach to support for early stage enterprises is vital.”

The fund is being managed by E-Synergy and any businesses interested in seeking investment should e-mail Claire Hodson at or Leigh Dixon at with their full contact details (including address) and an executive summary of their business.