In response to the difficulties recently faced by the technology sector, Invest Northern Ireland has organised and run a weeklong intensive training programme for entrepreneurs with ideas for new high-tech ventures.

Thirteen participants, some recently made redundant from technology companies, took part last week in a ‘Hi Tech Bootcamp’, delivered jointly by Invest NI and the University of Ulster.

The programme was tailored to address the specific requirements of individuals currently setting up a high tech business or those with substantive ideas that they want to take forward.

“We were delighted by the contribution made by local champions and professional practitioners who assisted in delivering the programme. Among the organisations providing input were PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Cleaver, Fulton and Rankin, and venture capital companies Crescent Capital, Crucible Corp and Viridian,” says Terri Scott, Managing Director of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise in Invest NI.

“The initiative was developed to provide a timely response to the needs of local individuals who have the potential to create globally competitive ventures. It offered an opportunity for the participants to meet and learn from successful local entrepreneurs and local expert business advisors.

“Supporting the establishment of new high-tech businesses in Northern Ireland is vital to our goal of creating a knowledge based economy. Fledgling high tech businesses need very specific help and this initiative is one way of addressing the requirements of individuals at the critical start-up stage.

“The initiative will be followed up by ongoing mentoring support for the participants as they complete their business plans and take the first steps towards setting up their businesses. We believe it will lead to the establishment of a number of new high tech businesses. Following the success of the programme and the positive feedback from participants we will be taking forward plans for a range of similar programmes next year,” she added.

The programme took the form of lectures, discussion groups
and face-to-face critique sessions with mentors, focusing on best practice. It was facilitated by the University of Ulster and among those contributing were Professor Brian Keating, NICENT, and Professor Denis Murphy, CEO of Mobile Cohesion. Topics covered included intellectual property protection, sales, marketing and management, accessing expertise, tax and legal issues and raising finance.

Alan Jordan, ex manager, Nortel Networks, was one of the participants on the course. He commented: “On the programme I met some local business leaders who are key to my future business strategy. I couldn’t put a price on that. The days and months that lie ahead will ultimately test the success of my involvement on this course.”

Participant Nigel Forbes of 4Digix said: “The opportunity to meet and be mentored by people who have built real enterprises was invaluable.”