What kind of grants does Northern Ireland offer to businesses and startups? Read more in this article!

There are a number of reasons why you may want to consider starting or expanding your business in Northern Ireland.

First of all, it is one of the fastest-growing regions of the UK, offering great chances for growth and prosperity. Also, operating costs are about 30% lower than in other UK areas, and it is one the most business-friendly locations in Europe.

On top of that, a recent poll has declared Northern Ireland the happiest place to live across all Britain.

Another important piece of information to know when setting up a business in Northern Ireland, is what kind of grants it offers to business and startup and how to obtain them.

The main bodies that can award grants are the UK government, Northern Ireland departments and local councils.


Government Grants

Besides supporting new businesses with useful information and advise from experts, the UK government also provides financial aid in the form of grants. Getting this kind of grants is not easy though, as competition is high and companies are require to meet strict criteria.

Criteria may vary, but they usually include:

  • location and size of the business
  • industry sector
  • purpose of the grant

To check if your business is eligible for a specific grant you may consult the Northern Ireland business support finder.


Research and Development Grants

Many initiatives are available for businesses and startups that are willing to bring to the table innovative ideas or are trying to expand their research and development department.

Support includes grants, funding and tax reliefs on a regional, national or European level.

Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is a research and innovation funding initiative, valid until 2027, promoted by the European Commission.

With a budget of €95.5 billion, the program wants to facilitate collaboration, foster research and innovation projects while tackling global challenges, such as climate change, and help achieve the UN Sustainable Development goals.

You can apply for fundings through the European Commission website.

UK Research and Innovation

UK Research and Innovation is the UK national funding agency sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy operating across the whole country since 2018.

The aim of the non-departmental public body is to promote and invest in innovation and research in several different sectors thanks to the synergical work of seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England.

Each Council is focused on a specific field (arts, technology, health etc.) and offers funding opportunities to researchers, businesses and non-governmental organizations.

Invest NI Innovation Vouchers

Invest NI is Northern Ireland’s regional business development agency that aims at boosting local economy by fostering growth for both new and existing companies.

Part of the agency’s toolkit for supporting businesses is the Innovation Vouchers Program, which provides funding to small and medium enterprises to work with an expert from a University, College or other Public Sector Research Body bringing new knowledge to help businesses innovate, develop and grow.

Enterprise NI Business Support

Enterprise Northern Ireland helps small local businesses and startups develop and thrive.

As well as providing support for setting up a business, Enterprise NI offers two loan funding programs to promote business growth:

  • Startup Loan: this is a personal loan for business purposes ensured to UK residents over the age of 18. Since the program launch in 2013 more that £3 million have been delivered to over 500 startups.
  • NI Small Business Loan Fund: this funding program is part of Invest NI’s Access to Finance strategy and was designed to help enterprises that cannot access traditional funding. Since 2013 over £6m of loans have been delivered to over 270 businesses all over Northern Ireland.

To discover more about business and startups grants you can also read startup grants in Ireland.