Interested in applying for our Ambition to Grow programme?

About the programme

The Ambition to Grow programme looks for Northern Ireland’s most innovative and ambitious businesses to apply for up to £45,000 in funding. Successful applicants will also become part of Invest Northern Ireland’s client portfolio.

Designed specifically to help micro, small and medium sized local enterprises, Ambition to Grow supports businesses to create good jobs and increase sales of innovative products or services outside Northern Ireland.

What support is available?

A maximum of £45,000 is available for each successful application as follows:

  • up to £30,000 towards new employment within the business. The level of this support will depend on the number and type of new positions, the salary levels proposed and the number of hours each new role is contracted for.
  • up to £10,000 towards business development activities at a support rate of up to 50% of eligible costs which can include expenditure on market, product, or skills development.
  • £5,000 on the completion of an Export Health Check, development of an Export Marketing Plan, and completion of an Innovate NI Self-Assessment.

Financial support payments are not up-front and are dependent on the execution of specific activities as outlined in any offer of support such as job creation or incurring costs on market development activities.

How to apply?

To find out if you can apply for our Ambition to Grow programme, check your eligibility. The call closes 12:00 noon on Friday 7 June.

Answer the following questions to find out if you can apply.

Q1 - Is your business currently based in Northern Ireland with at least 1 director/proprietor/partner residing here, and have less than 250 full-time equivalent staff?
Q2 - Is your business currently trading?
Q3 - Does your business have either annual turnover under £1m or annual sales to customers outside Northern Ireland of less than £300,000?
Q4 - Does your business manufacture a product or provide a tradeable service?
Q5 - Are any of the following the main activity of your business?
  • Agricultural Production
  • Fisheries & Aquaculture Sectors (Production and Processing)
  • Steel
  • Coal
  • Shipbuilding
  • Synthetic fibres
  • Transport and its infrastructure
  • Energy generation, distribution & its infrastructure
  • Infrastructure
  • Tourism accommodation
  • Visitor attractions
  • Healthcare services (in-person)
  • Wholesale
  • Retail (including online)
  • Distribution
Q6 - Has your business received an offer or payment of grant support from Invest NI within the last 5 years?

If your business has received a payment of grant support from Invest NI within the last 5 years, please contact your Client Executive or our Business Support Team to check if it will impact your ability to make an application for Ambition to Grow.

This does not include Covid-19 Emergency Funds, Innovation Vouchers, Economic Recovery Innovation Grant or Access to Finance funding.

Q7 - Can your business commit to creating new employment and generating new sales directly to customers outside Northern Ireland over the next 2 years?

New employment must be one of the following:

  • at least one new full-time (30+ hours per week) management position paying a minimum salary of £30,000
  • at least 3 new full-time equivalent positions which can be a mixture of part-time (15-30 hours per week and equivalent to 0.5 full-time positions) and full-time positions (30+ hours per week and equivalent to 1.0 full-time positions) e.g., two full-time and two part-time would be equivalent to 3.0 full-time positions.

Based on your answers your business is eligible to apply for Ambition to Grow.

Please click on the below link to start your online application. If you do not already have an account on Invest NI’s customer portal you will be asked to complete that registration process before you can complete the Ambition to Grow application form.

Apply now

You can save your application and return to it at any time, prior to the closing date of 12:00 noon Friday 7 June 2024.

Sorry, from your answers your business does not meet the eligibility criteria for Ambition to Grow.

If you feel you meet all the criteria except for having received Invest NI support within the last five years, you can contact your Invest NI Client Executive to discuss if Ambition to Grow is an option for your business at this time.

Outside of Ambition to Grow, there is a wide range of support available to help grow your business in the form of advice, guidance and funding.

Please visit our website for further details on available support or contact us.

Is my business eligible?

To be eligible for the Ambition to grow programme, businesses must:

  • be ambitious and innovative with a clear plan to grow sales to customers outside Northern Ireland.
  • have a product or service with a strong unique selling point to take to markets outside Northern Ireland.
  • be able to outline the potential for new employment within the business and demonstrate how these new roles will contribute to growth of the business into markets outside Northern Ireland.
  • be able to demonstrate the need for government support for new employment and market development activities to take place.
  • already be trading and have annual turnover under £1m or sales to customers outside Northern Ireland of less than £300,000.

The following businesses are not eligible to apply:

  • businesses already in receipt of or intending to gain other government support for the project.
  • businesses that have not yet commenced trading.
  • businesses that have an outstanding liability to Invest NI brought about through grant clawback proceedings. If a satisfactory repayment plan is in place, the business may apply for consideration.
  • businesses or any member of senior management within the business that are subject to a current bankruptcy order, Individual Voluntary Arrangement, Company Voluntary Arrangement, County Court Judgement, or Company Director Disqualification.
  • businesses involved in agricultural production, fisheries, and aquaculture (production and processing), steel, coal, shipbuilding, synthetic fibres, transport and its infrastructure, energy (its generation, distribution, and infrastructure), tourism accommodation, visitor attractions, healthcare services (in-person), wholesale, retail (including on-line) & distribution.
  • applications which include or relate to activities that Invest NI considers as ineligible or as involving an unacceptable reputational risk, such as gambling, tobacco products and drug-based products, which are not authorised as medicines.

Discover more

Watch our video playlist and learn why local businesses applied to the Ambition to Grow programme. 

Further Information