Clusters3 partner Invest Northern Ireland has allocated £5.7million funding over the next five years to help stimulate innovation among local businesses. One hundred per cent funding up to £25,000 is available to industry-led networks requiring facilitation support to scope innovative collaborative projects.

Addressing over 150 delegates at the programme launch event in December 2016, the Northern Ireland Minister for the Economy Simon Hamilton MLA said: “Innovation is absolutely essential to wider economic growth and the Collaborative Growth Programme will support SMEs to combine expertise, funding and contacts to develop new products and services and open up new business opportunities worldwide.

“The practice of ‘open innovation’ is recognised as a significant driver of regional competitiveness so it’s important we leverage our unique selling points to maximise our strengths on the international stage.”

Previous programme success has included Kilkeel-based Sea Source who in the last 18 months secured £8million of new business as a result of the work by the Kilkeel Harbour Works network of 14 businesses.

The Minister added “The success Sea Source has achieved in the offshore renewable energy sector, demonstrates how collaboration can not only transform an industry but leverage the strengths of the region to attract significant contracts.”

Proving the keynote address at the launch was Christian Ketels, a leading economist and world renowned expert in clusters and competitiveness from Harvard Business School and current Chairman of TCI.

Christian Ketels 

Speaking at the launch he said: “Value creation and innovation ultimately always occurs in companies. But we increasingly see that their success is not only a function of their internal strengths but depends also on the partners they are connected with and on the business environment in which they operate. Invest NI’s Collaborative Growth Programme is a promising piece in the puzzle to enhance the odds for Northern Ireland firms to succeed in competition, generating benefits both for them and for the Northern Ireland economy.”

Further information on Invest NI’s Collaborative Growth Programme can be found at