The importance of innovative products and services in boosting export business will be recognised in the Northern Ireland Exporter of the Year Awards event, which is organised by Invest NI with sponsorship from flyBE. and the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NICCI).

The “Innovative Products or Services” is one of two new categories in the Northern Ireland Exporter of the Year competition, which is celebrating its 11th anniversary this year. The overall Northern Ireland Exporter of the Year Award and awards in five other categories, including Innovative Products and Services, will be presented at a ceremony in Belfast City Hall on 5 June.

Northern Ireland companies were invited to enter the competition today by Alan Hingston, Director of Trade at Invest NI, at the launch of this year’s Northern Ireland Exporter of the Year Awards with Andrea Hayes, flyBE. General Manager – Market Development , and Frank Hewitt, NICCI Chief Executive.

Said Mr Hingston: “The Northern Ireland Exporter of the Year Awards is now firmly established as the most prestigious competition for companies doing business in markets outside Northern Ireland.

“The new Innovative Products or Services Award will go to the company which demonstrates how it has increased sales overseas through an investment in research and development and reflects Invest NI’s strategic commitment to encourage and assist local companies to become more innovative.

“The awards recognise excellence in international markets and will help Invest NI as it seeks, through its Principles for Business Support, to provide customised services that encourage and assist local companies to achieve sustainable growth through exporting,” he added.

Andrea Hayes said: “As an international airline, we recognise the role that exports play in economic development. Our network and agreements with other airlines enable Northern Ireland companies to access key markets throughout Europe and further afield.”

Mr Hewitt said: “Our continued support for Northern Ireland’s most important export awards reflects our commitment to promote overseas sales as a vitally important driver of economic growth and wealth creation.

The other new category, for export success in a New Market, will be awarded to a company deemed by the judging panel to have achieved significant business during the first year in a new overseas market.

The remaining categories are as follows:

First Time Exporter
Traded Services
Small Business
Northern Ireland Exporter of the Year

Application forms for the Northern Ireland Exporter of the Year are being circulated to all companies in manufacturing and tradeable services. The awards will be made on the basis of export performance over a three year period to December 2002.

The application form may also be downloaded from the Invest NI website at The closing for applications is 11 April 2003