Photography: Press Eye
The 2011 Invest NI Propel programme is now open for applications, in picture is Ian Murphy, Invest NI Managing Director of Clients and Entrepreneurship (left), with John Davies of Aqueo in Belfast, who is a past participant on the Propel programme.
Invest Northern Ireland announced that its highly successful Propel programme, which supports new export focused, knowledge intensive businesses, is now open for new applications.
Propel is designed for entrepreneurs with ideas for businesses that have the potential to scale up and reach significant export growth. It has already helped over eighteen local entrepreneurs to establish and grow businesses based on innovative ideas, products and technology.
One such business is Aqueo, set up by former Propel participant, John Davies. Aqueo helps businesses deal with surplus inventory by reprocessing, remarketing and distributing it. This helps the businesses increase stock sales, ease cash flow, reduce costs and release funds tied up in problem assets.
According to Mr Davies, taking part in the Propel programme had a significant impact on his company’s progress: “The Propel programme has been instrumental in taking my business from an armchair dream to a fully-functioning, investor ready business,” he says.
“Without the support and expertise it has provided I would still be working full time for someone else, instead of employing other people. Before the programme I had no idea how to go about achieving funding or how to properly deliver the messages about my business that generate interest and help it grow.”
In the last few weeks Aqueo has taken on its first employee, won the ‘Propel Business that has made the most progress’ award in 2011, secured initial venture capitalinvestment and is in ongoingdiscussionswith additional potentialinvestors.
Ian Murphy, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Clients and Entrepreneurship, says: “To create a dynamic, knowledge-led economy in Northern Ireland we need to support entrepreneurs who have novel business ideas with significant export potential. The Propel programme helps entrepreneurs develop the necessary business skills, expertise, contacts and facilities to establish a successful business for the international market.”
Propel provides salary support, initial seed investment, master classes, mentoring from local and international experts, and access to potential investors. It helps participants to maximise the commercial potential of their ideas and generate the best possible return for themselves and the local economy.
The deadline for applications for Propel is 4pm Friday 15 April 2011. The applications can be made online through the dedicated website /support-for-business/propel-programme.html.