The European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme 2007–2013, which is now drawing to a close, has helped to promote investment in research and technological development and encourage enterprise and entrepreneurship across Northern Ireland.
The programme drew half its funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the total programme value for Northern Ireland was approximately £470m. Around 55 per cent of these funds were designated to Invest Northern Ireland programmes.
Support under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme has been focussed on small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It has helped businesses to grow and improve their productivity and capability, supporting the sustainability of the Northern Ireland economy.
During the programme period there have been numerous success stories from companies such as Randox, Kofax and J F McKenna. Just one of the SMEs that benefitted from ERDF support is Automated Intelligence, based in Belfast. Read their story here
A new European funding programme started on 1 January 2014. The EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme (IGJ) will run until 31 December 2020. Sixty per cent of the funds for this programme are coming from the ERDF.
The IGJ will focus on strengthening research, technological development and innovation, enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs and supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy.
Invest NI will manage some £170m under this programme. The main areas of support to SMEs will be through assistance for research and development, via the Northern Ireland Screen Commission, through Invest NI’s Design Development Programme, and using financial instruments and local council activity.
As the programme is rolled out, the EU Programmes Team within Invest NI will disseminate guidance regarding support eligibility for businesses.