Want to know more about our support?

About the programme

The Ambition to Grow programme looks for Northern Ireland’s most innovative and ambitious businesses to take part in a competition to receive 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 local enterprises, the competition will support businesses to create great jobs and sell innovative products or services outside Northern Ireland.

What support is available?

Funding will be awarded to applicants on a competitive basis. Applications will be assessed and scored, with the highest scoring companies in each Invest NI office region awarded funding following a successful validation interview.

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 can my business apply?

The next call for applications will open 12 noon, Monday 13 May 2024.

Is my business eligible?

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

  • be ambitious, innovative businesses 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.
  • 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 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, 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.