Jan 28, 2003

Invest NI has developed Accelerating Entrepreneurship, a draft strategy that aims to transform Northern Ireland into an “exemplar location for starting and growing a successful business” by creating an innovative, flexible and fully integrated business support structure.

Invest NI Chief Executive Leslie Morrison and Prof. Terri Scott, Managing Director of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise, launched the draft strategy for public consultation today in Belfast with Prof. Fabian Monds, Invest NI Chairman.

Among the new ideas proposed by Invest NI is the targeting of customised resources to increase business start-ups in three distinct sectors with very different needs: – Businesses with global market potential; those capable of external sales and those focused on the Northern Ireland market.

Other strategic changes proposed include setting up a special Invest NI team with access to a panel of international specialists to help increase the number of worldclass indigenous companies.

Extensive use will be made of the latest technologies by creating a unique Virtual Enterprise Mall that will make it easier for more people at all levels to start a business. The Virtual Enterprise Mall will be a dedicated on-line portal that will provide 24/7 advice, information and guidance needed by those setting out in business.

Mr Morrison, commenting on the draft strategy, said: “Economic growth is driven fundamentally by entrepreneurs, enterprising people who aren’t afraid of failure, and those in existing companies who are committed to innovation and growth.

“Entrepreneurs need a supportive environment in which they are encouraged to flourish. Invest NI’s aim is to increase entrepreneurial activity and new business starts by innovative measures that stimulate, encourage and support risk takers.

“This involves providing a portfolio of tailored services that will ensure the success of many more start-up entrepreneurs.

“This Accelerating Entrepreneurship strategy will engage the community through the consultation process,” added Mr Morrison.

Prof. Scott said: “We want more people to be thinking positively about entrepreneurship, taking action to develop their ideas and in time achieving success.”

Welcoming the draft strategy, Ian Pearson, the Minister with responsibility for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, said: “Some very exciting and novel ideas are included in this exceptionally important contribution to Northern Ireland’s future economic wellbeing. I would urge all those interested in economic development to contribute to the debate.”

Accelerating Entrepreneurship details how Invest NI proposes to target resources and initiatives to achieve a significant increase in entrepreneurship in three areas as follows:

· Global market business starts - enterprises with global potential;
· External business starts - new businesses capable of achieving external sales (Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland); and
· Local market start-ups - new companies and self-employed enterprises focused on the local Northern Ireland market.

Targeted Invest NI initiatives proposed for each segment include:

Global market business starts
(1) A new specialist Invest NI team to identify and work with individual entrepreneurs with the potential to establish worldclass competitive companies. The work of the team will be supported by a panel of international specialists and recognised achievers in the field of new venture creation.

(2) A Front Runner initiative is proposed that will select up to 25 businesses each year for intensive support and assistance.

(3) A Proof of Concept/Principle Fund will provide finance to assist technology-led start-ups test their ideas.

External market starts
(1) A revitalised network of support with dedicated resources provided through Invest NI’s Local Office Network that will offer companies customised support throughout Northern Ireland

(2) A Continuous Professional Development Programme will be introduced to equip entrepreneurs with the capability to grow their businesses faster.

(3) More sophisticated networking programmes will provide easier access to information and guidance including legislative issues.

Local market start-ups
(1) Partnerships with other Government and district councils will be strengthened by Invest NI which will work through the Enterprise NI network to raise awareness of entrepreneurship and increase local start-ups, particularly encouraging enterprise in the agriculture and creative industries.

(2) Supply chain and out-sourcing opportunities will be examined to encourage new business opportunities.

(3) Special measures will be taken to promote entrepreneurship within areas designated for New Targeting Social Needs (NTSN). In addition targets will be set to increase entrepreneurship among under-represented groups such as women, young people, the disabled and ethnic minorities.

(4) The Social Economy will be further developed by innovative programmes to assist regeneration and the local infrastructure for entrepreneurs.

Accelerating Entrepreneurship will also be reinforced by new Invest NI strategies for business growth in areas such as venture capital and incubation facilities.

In addition, Invest NI is working with government departments to achieve ambitious targets. This includes the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment on the R&D and Innovation (RDI) strategy, with the Department of Culture, Arts and Learning on implementing the Unlocking Creativity Agenda and with the Department of Employment and Learning and the universities to support initiatives in research, teaching and interaction with the business community,

Copies of the draft consultation document are being circulated to business organisations, councils and enterprise bodies. Invest NI also intends to engage the wider public by means of a series of public briefings as follows:

Londonderry, Friday, 14th February at 10.30 am in the Everglades Hotel ; Armagh, Thursday, 20th February at 10.30 am in the City Hotel; and Belfast, Tuesday, 25th February at 10.30 am in the NTL Studio at the Waterfront Hall.

The draft document is also included on the Invest NI website at

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