The Economic Recovery Innovation Grant – Supporting small and micro businesses to innovate successfully

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Northern Ireland has a history of successfully founding and growing innovative businesses.

There is a belief, however, that innovation is only for big business, it is not.

Whether you are a micro-business, an SME or a large corporation, innovation should be at the heart of your business.

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Different levels of innovation support are also available depending on your scale and where you are on your innovation path.

The Innovation Recovery Grant (ERIG) is specifically targeted at microbusiness and SMEs.

Open for applications until March 13, ERIG provides funding to help you develop new or improve existing products, services, processes or business models.

Grant support of up to £ 5,000 (taxable) is available for the validation, testing and development phases of the innovation project.

The hottest new idea of ​​them all!

Innovation is a new idea that creates value – it doesn’t always have to involve radical changes to a product or service, indeed, the vast majority of innovations in business are gradual, making small consistent improvements to ensure you stay relevant and competitive.

ERIG’s partners, Innovate NI, describe innovation as “an idea that is new to both business and the wider market. This new idea will lead to the development of a new or improved product, service, business model or process that will create value in the business, bring new profits or business growth.

Successful innovation can only be achieved if the idea is validated and tested to make sure it will create value for your business, that customers will pay for it or it will provide a solution to a specific problem.

However, despite the generation of hundreds of new ideas, micro, small and medium enterprises often do not reach the stages of commercialization or implementation due to lack of resources or funding. An innovative economic recovery grant bridges this gap by providing start-up assistance that allows businesses to immediately take the necessary steps to test, develop and validate their ideas.

ERIG can help decide the specific business costs associated with your planned

such innovative activities as:

• Development of new or improved products, processes and services.

• Testing and validating your idea.

• Access to information and experience.

• Research of new technologies.

• Development and evaluation of new business models.

This is a one-time advance grant that will be paid directly to your business bank account after your ERIG application has been successfully processed and you meet all the eligibility criteria.

What type of business can you apply for?

Four weeks before the closing of the ERIG application window, we encourage any micro, small and medium-sized business to visit www.investni.com/erig to find out if you are eligible to apply.

To date, more than 60% of ERIG’s successful applications received by Invest NI have come from SMEs and microbusiness, and almost a quarter of them from sole proprietorships and partnerships, demonstrating the propensity for innovation that exists in the Northern Ireland business community.

Companies from all sectors can apply for ERIG – grant funding has been awarded to advanced manufacturing, construction and engineering companies, financial, professional and business services. Companies in the digital and creative technologies and life and health sciences sectors have also provided funding to further develop new ideas. ERIG can also be used in wholesale and retail trade to develop and implement new innovative ways of trading.

If you are part of a micro, small or medium business and have an innovative idea that you would like to develop further but are not sure if it is suitable to support ERIG, we have given some examples of suitable ideas below.

How to apply: ERIG Application 3-step process

Before you start the application process, visit www.investni.com/erig and read carefully the recommendations for grants for innovative economic recovery and frequently asked questions to make sure your business meets the eligibility criteria.

 The manufacturing business may wish to develop and implement a new internal process involving AI or even robotics, a completely new way of doing something that improves the efficiency of the manufacturing process.

 Your business may have a new idea for a new or improved business model that will allow your business to compete successfully in a new market segment.

 An IT company may be developing a new innovative software product, platform or technology, or an individual entrepreneur may have some new idea involving the development of a completely new mental health service.

 Small food businesses can bring to market a whole new food product that is not available in Northern Ireland, or they can stand out by developing a new exciting business model to attract new customers.

1. Pass the suitability test at InvestNI.com

2. Complete and submit your innovation assessment. If your business is rated as a silver level innovator (or equivalent), we will notify you and provide access to the ERIG application.

3. Apply for an ERIG on the Invest NI (MyINI) client portal. Projects will be evaluated on a first-come, first-served basis. Invest NI reserves the right to close grant applications early if the available budget is fully allocated, or on the scheduled closing date of March 13 at 5pm, whichever comes first.

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