Have you got an idea for your business but you’re not sure how to progress it?
Mid South West Region wants to hear from you as it seeks expressions of interest for its new pilot Business Innovation Programme, which sets out to assist local businesses fast track their growth and productivity post Covid-19.
Developed as a collaboration between Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council; Mid South West (MSW) is responsible for delivering a Regional Economic Strategy that focuses on boosting productivity, driving business growth, promoting sectoral strengths, and creating more and better-paid jobs across the Mid South West Region.
The new pilot Business Innovation Programme – which will see an investment of close to £430,000 for the region, subject to funding approval in late August – is designed to grow business innovation and productivity specifically within local micro, small and medium sized enterprises.
Aligned to the MSW Regional Economic Strategy’s Boosting Innovation and Digital Capacity pillar, this new initiative includes the delivery of bespoke training workshops developed to improve awareness and understanding of productivity and innovation potential, as well as encouraging the use of emerging technologies and sharing best practice knowledge through collaboration with key stakeholders.
What’s more, it also offers the opportunity for eligible businesses to apply for £3,000 innovation vouchers, designed to help them access leadership and technical support from industry experts for new projects and processes.
Chair of the Mid South West Region Governance Steering Group, Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon said:
“With a globalised, outward and forward-looking mentality, the Mid South West Region is home to many successful and world-leading export businesses; however despite this, our productivity levels still lag considerably behind Northern Ireland and UK averages.
“With the introduction of the pilot Business Innovation Programme, it is hoped we can help equip eligible businesses with the skills and toolkit to innovate faster and drive up productivity levels to ultimately plug this productivity gap and supercharge this region’s economic fortunes.”
For businesses demonstrating high productivity potential, the pilot Programme will also assist them in the development of tailored innovation actions plans, which will address key themes such as operational productivity, digitalisation, decarbonisation, resourcing, skills and finance.
Planned to run from September 2021 to March 2022, the Programme targets micro, small and medium-sized businesses in the region’s key industrial sectors including manufacturing, engineering, aerospace, construction, agri-food processing, mining and quarrying as well as pharmaceutical, logistics, warehousing, information and communication technology.
Councillor Paul McLean, Vice Chair of the Mid South West Region Governance Steering Group, said:
“Making up the vast majority of the MSW Region’s active companies and over one-third of all Northern Ireland businesses, our local micro, small and medium-sized enterprises are critical in helping boost our output performance and drive inclusive economic prosperity across the area.
“By building local knowledge, awareness and opening new doors to emerging technologies such as data analytics, artificial intelligence and automation, this pilot Programme has real potential to help the region take giant leaps forward in performance, productivity and growth.”
With insights into new processes, industry 4.0 technologies and decarbonisation, the Programme will support businesses on their innovation journeys and open up opportunities to apply to future funding initiatives such as the £15 million Industrial Investment Challenge Fund.
Deadline for expressions of interest is Friday 10 September 2021, 5pm.
The MSW pilot Business Innovation Programme is subject to funding from the UK Community Renewal Fund and therefore any business submitting an expression of interest should note registration does not guarantee their participation.