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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Minister announces new £5m programme for entrepreneurs and high growth start-ups in NI

Pictured are (L-R) Kieran Donoghue, CEO, Invest Northern Ireland, Conor Murphy, Minister for the Economy, Claire Halliday, Ormeau Baths and Steve Baker, Minister of State for Northern Ireland.

Pictured are (L-R) Kieran Donoghue, CEO, Invest Northern Ireland, Conor Murphy, Minister for the Economy, Claire Halliday, Ormeau Baths and Steve Baker, Minister of State for Northern Ireland.

Economy Minister Conor Murphy today announced a new programme of support to help early-stage, technology-based, start-up businesses and entrepreneurs become global businesses of the future.

The £5million Founder Labs accelerator programme is co-funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Office.

The Minister was joined by Steve Baker, Minister of State for Northern Ireland, and Kieran Donoghue, CEO, Invest Northern Ireland, at the launch event.

Speaking at the launch event, Minister Murphy said:

“This new support programme is committing up to £5million to support a total of 40 businesses over the next four years. It will play a key role in helping them to improve their market fit, grow to scale, succeed in global markets and ultimately attract future investment for rapid growth.

“In line with my Economic Vision the consortium brings real strength to this programme by fostering the opportunity for regional and all-Island partnership and learning. I firmly believe that by working in partnership, Founder Labs can help boost productivity in our economy by supporting high growth starts ups to scale and grow.”

Founder Labs will be delivered by Ormeau Baths in Belfast in partnership with Dogpatch Labs in Dublin, The AMP in Derry and Queen’s University Belfast. It is targeted at tech start-ups and will provide support for high growth Innovation Driven Enterprises.

These types of businesses invest in R&D to bring new and innovative technology-based products and services to market and are focused on selling internationally.

Minister Baker said: 

“The UK Government is committed to supporting Northern Ireland’s entrepreneurs of the future, ensuring a pipeline of innovative businesses to provide more employment opportunities for all.

“I’m delighted that 40 businesses will be supported over the next four years as a result of the £5million being provided by the UK Government’s New Deal for Northern Ireland funding and Invest NI; ensuring they have the knowledge and skills to grow and prosper, and attract investment into Northern Ireland.

“I’m confident that the local firms involved in the consortium will make the most of the opportunities on offer, benefitting the wider Northern Ireland economy.”

Kieran Donoghue, CEO, Invest NI, said:

“Technology-based companies are crucial to our economy. They grow our R&D base and have high-growth potential which can lead to above average salaries and enhanced living standards for all. We are delighted to have such a strong team on board to deliver the programme and have no doubt the companies accepted on to the programme will gain a lot from the experience.”

As Co-Founder and Manager of Ormeau Baths, the consortium and programme delivery lead partner, Claire Halliday said:

“I am passionate about supporting tech-based start-ups and really excited to help deliver this programme. I know from personal experience just what an impact this type of support can have on a business.

“We will run four intense six-month programmes over the next four years, with 10 start-ups in each. Those on the programmes will benefit from learning events with industry experts, mentoring by individuals with specific experience in starting and scaling a business and access to grant and investment funding.

“Participants also have access to shared-working space at Ormeau Baths in Belfast and at The AMP in Ebrington Square, Derry-Londonderry and in Dogpatch Labs in Dublin.  We will also visit international markets to explore opportunities to collaborate globally and scale internationally.”

Founder Labs is open for applications. For full details and how to apply visit


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