Enterprise Development

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Financial support available for R&D projects with NI Companies


Innovation Vouchers are designed to enable small Northern Ireland registered enterprises to access knowledge and expertise to develop innovative solutions to business issues.

The programme provides a voucher of up to £4000 to enable small enterprises less than 50 employees to engage with one of the 38 universities, colleges and other publicly funded research organisations throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

A company may apply for up to three vouchers for different projects. A 2nd or 3rd voucher can be applied for once the previous project is completed and the voucher has been redeemed. It is only possible to have one 'live voucher' at a time.


Grant for R&D Support available

Invest NI support covers two stages of project development.

1. Project Definition

Whilst this is not a prerequisite for accessing support under Grant for R&D, small to medium sized enterprises can undertake a Project Definition exercise to help plan and clearly define an R&D project.

2. Grant for R&D

If you have already defined an R&D project and can meet the selection criteria, your business can access the appropriate level of financial support under Grant for R&D without undertaking the Project Definition stage. The actual level of funding offered will be at the discretion of Invest NI and will be determined following a comprehensive appraisal and an assessment of need for each individual project. The level of funding will also be dependent on the type of project and size of your business.

Invest NI's Grant for R&D can provide assistance to support.

Industrial Research: Planned research to acquire new knowledge and skills to develop new (or significantly improve existing) products, processes or services (excluding prototypes).

Experimental Development: Existing knowledge/skills used to plan/design new or improved produts, processes or services.

*Small Enterprise: A small enterprise is defined as a business that has fewer than 50 employees and an annual turnover or an annual Balance Sheeet not exceeding 10 million Euros.

Medium Sized Enterprise: A medium enterprise is defined as an enterprise that has between 50 employees and 249 employees and has either an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million euros or an annual Balance Sheet not exceeding 43 million euros.

Large Enterprise: Any company that exceeds the upper limit of the medium sized enterprise is automatically classed as a large enterprise.

Additional Support Available

If you are new to R&D

If your business has never invested in R&D and has fewer than 50 employees you could be eligible for support of up to 75% (max £70,000) of eligible project costs to help your business undertake an R&D project for the first time. This support is also available for entrepreneurs who want to establish new and innovative businesses with the potential to export to international markets.

If you want to collaborate with other businesses, universities or research bodies.

Grant for R&D provides additional assistance for companies wishing to collaborate. Collaborative projects build on effective partnerships between industry, academia and research bodies to promote research that can be commercialised.

Collaboration allows smaller businesses to develop innovative technologies without having to invest in large R&D departments.

If you want your business to collaborate with universities, research bodies or other businesses, you may be eligible for additional support.