Propelling local businesses towards export success

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has praised the entrepreneurial flair of 18 of Northern Ireland’s most innovative and export focused start-up businesses.

The Minister was speaking at Invest Northern Ireland’s Propel Awards Dinner, at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast.

Recognising the drive and commitment of the participants to succeed in global markets, Arlene Foster said: “The Propel programme offers local entrepreneurs an opportunity to turn innovative, knowledge based ideas into high growth, export focused businesses. We need ambitious entrepreneurs like these to grow our future economy. They can, with the right support, become our next generation of employers and wealth creators.

“Some of the businesses that completed the Propel programme are already selling in markets outside of Northern Ireland and some are expecting to reach annual turnover of £1 million within twelve months. It is estimated that they will secure some £4.6 million of private sector investment within the next 12 months. In the current economic climate that is a huge achievement.”

The Minister continued: “What tonight’s event shows us is that programmes like Propel can make a real difference. These companies are at the cutting edge of innovation and technological development across a range of sectors, including software development, environmental, renewables and niche manufacturing. Through Propel, Invest NI has helped these entrepreneurs to maximise the commercial potential of their ideas.”

Four awards were presented with the FarmVet Systems, winning the Best Go to Market Strategy and Waste Systems Ltd winning the Propel Company of the Year Award.

Guest Speaker Bill Liao, business coach and co-founder of the social network site Xing said “It is great to see so many innovative ideas in one place. It just shows that there is no shortage of entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland.

“One of the Propel programme’s strengths is the variety of experts and investors who are on hand to help the companies deliver the right pitch for potential investors. It would be fantastic to see these stories being told more widely,” he said.

Copyright: Harrisons Photography

Pictured with the Enterprise Minister are Mr George Brownlee, FarmVet Systems; Oonagh Hinds of Invest NI; Mrs Doris Brownlee and Cllr Cyril Brownlee. FarmVet Systems won the Best Go to Market Strategy Award.