Small business bulletin for Northern Ireland

Local News 18 Jul 2024

Local small business news from Roisin McAliskey, your FSB Development Manager. Updates cover Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Derry/Londonderry and Tyrone.

In summary

School is out for Summer and the odd glimpse of sunshine (or some dry weather) over the last few weeks. For some it is a period of taking time out to relax but for a lot of SMEs summer can be a golden period for business. Either way, it may be time to reflect on the FSB benefits you receive as part of your membership and make sure you are making the most of it.

Featured news and events 

New capital assistance for agri-food businesses

Northern Ireland agri-food businesses can access financial assistance for capital investments to grow and increase their competitiveness. The Agri-Food Investment Initiative (AFII) aims to enhance the economic performance and competitiveness of Northern Ireland’s agri-food sector through financial assistance for transformative capital investment in several key areas. These areas include:

  • machinery and equipment
  • buying or developing computer software
  • buying patents, licences, copyrights, and trademarks

It supports Northern Ireland food and drink processors from small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs*) to large Agri-food businesses that process products.

The main aims of AFII are to:

  • Support enterprises to increase their efficiency and improve their productivity
  • Improve the competitiveness of Northern Ireland’s Agri-food sector
  • Support capacity building, growth, innovation, and new product development

The maximum aid intensity that can be granted for small businesses is 35% of the eligible investment costs. The minimum project size is £300,000. For medium businesses the maximum aid intensity that can be granted is 25% of the eligible investment costs. The minimum project size is £1,000,000. The scheme will run until 31 December 2025.

For more information on eligibility and to apply, click here

Northern Ireland In-Person Networking

Join us for our next virtual networking FSBNI event on Thursday 25 July and meet with other entrepreneurs, self-employed people and small business owners, network, collaborate and support each other.

Book your free place now >

In other news 

City of Derry Airport wants to hear your feedback on business travel

Following the announcement of two new routes from Derry City to Liverpool and Edinburgh with EasyJet starting in November, our colleagues at City of Derry Airport want to know more about what routes and services would help our SMEs with business travel. CoDA is continually striving to improve and expand its network as the Gateway of the North West. By completing this quick survey, it will allow the Airport to work closely with airline partners to provide the connectivity and frequency of services required to meet the needs of your organisation and customers.

Complete the survey here. 

Export Academy Support available for NI Business

The Department for Business and Trade offer free courses for Northern Ireland exporters, meaning business owners and entrepreneurs across Northern Ireland can receive tailored support to boost their exporting skills and sell their goods and services to new markets worldwide. Export Academy modules, which are delivered online and free of charge, are open to all Northern Ireland businesses regardless of their size or stage of exporting journey, to ensure that as many businesses as possible can learn from experts in international trade and successfully sell around the world.

The UK Export Academy from the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) gives businesses the know-how to sell to customers around the world by learning from experts in international trade. It is open to any business in the UK that has a product or service that can be sold internationally. It is for businesses who know that they want to reach international customers and contracts in the future, as well as those who might already be selling beyond the UK and want to expand into new markets. The course is delivered in various stages depending on your skill level and include essentials modules, masterclasses, market events and sector-specific masterclasses.

Northern Ireland businesses can register now to access UK Export Academy online courses, click here

Still in the news 

InvestNI launch new energy efficiency grant 

A new £20 million fund which will offer support to local businesses to purchase and install energy efficient equipment that will help to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions has been launched by InvestNI. 

The five-year programme is now open for applications and will offer businesses grants of up to £150,000 for investments in areas such as lighting, heating and cooling equipment, motors and drives, compressed air systems, and onsite renewable energy generation. The Energy Efficiency Capital Grant (EECG) will help Northern Ireland businesses reduce energy costs and build resilience through efficiency. It will offer grant support to buy and install energy efficient equipment that reduces energy and carbon emissions. The project is funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Grants of up to £150k are available to help businesses buy and install energy efficient equipment. The rate of support covers the total eligible project costs and is based on company size with Small and Micro businesses being offered up to 50% assistance.

For more information on eligibility and criteria, please click here >  

Call 3 of the Digital Transformation Flexible Fund (DTFF) opens for applications on 17 June 2024.

The DTFF aims to help small and micro businesses in Northern Ireland to invest in advanced digital technologies. It establishes a grant fund to support eligible businesses with investments in capital equipment that is critical to achieving their digital transformation ambitions.

The focus of the fund is on innovative technologies, such as:

  • smart environments and the Internet of Things
  • simulation, process automation and additive manufacturing
  • big data and analytics
  • immersive technologies
  • artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • blockchain technologies and more 

To be eligible, capital investments must enable business transformation rather than simply digitisation of existing business models or operations.

Funding is available between £5,000 and £20,000 for an investment project. If eligible, the grant can fund up to 70% of the cost of the total value of a project. Applicants must match-fund a minimum of 30% of the overall project costs. The programme is delivered through your local council, please contact the business support team in your council for more information. 

Further info> 

Mental Health in the Workplace support

In case you missed it, FSB Northern Ireland hosted a “Supporting your own and others' emotional health” webinar with colleagues from Samaritans NI. The session looked at various coping mechanisms and ways in which the small business workplace can approach mental wellbeing for their teams. Ellen and David gave some examples of why these considerations are vital for a productive working environment and spoke about the training options they have available.

If you missed it, please click here for the recorded session  

More about FSB NI

Get in touch

Your FSB Development Manager for Northern Ireland is Roisin McAliskey. If you'd like more information about the topics above, or if you have news about this area that you'd like to share, please get in touch.