Start-up companies look to be 'Propelled' to the next level
THIS year's best new business start-up in the north will be unveiled in Belfast tonight - just as the search for the next tranche of new entrepreneurs begins.
The Invest NI Propel awards night in the Ulster Hall will celebrate the progress and successes of this year’s programme participants and find out who will be crowned company of the year.
Some 35 of the brightest start-ups in the north have been put through their paces by a team of advisers and mentors during the last year to make them battle-hardened and ready for export growth.
The overall Propel company of the year will join illustrious previous winners such as digital cemetery management company Plotbox and last year’s winner Inflyte, a digital platform that allows record labels, pluggers, PR companies and publishers to send music directly to industry ‘taste makers.’
The awards come as applications for the next Propel programme - which is designed to support innovative entrepreneurs who have the greatest potential to scale up an export focused company and become a significant employer - have been given a November 6 deadline to submit their business ideas.
Now in its sixth year, Propel is an intensive 12-month programme which helps participants fast track their business ideas, develop ambitious growth plans and explore global markets.
Already the programme is credited with creating nearly 120 companies, between them having accessed more than £14.5 million of external investment and creating 270 jobs.
Applications are currently open to early-stage export focused businesses with an innovative product or service, or a business idea that is in the advanced planning stages.
Following a competitive assessment process, Propel 2015/16 will formally commence next January, when successful participants will follow an intensive, tried and tested methodology, which on completion means that they are ready to pitch for investment and compete for business internationally.
They will receive a series of challenging business development workshops, advice from local and international business experts, introductions to potential investors and one-to-one bespoke guidance through a group of experienced mentors.
Participants will also be offered financial support up to the value of £20,000 and will have access to dedicated shared working space at Revolution BFS, a new purpose-designed start-up space in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.
Niall Casey, director of skills & strategy at Invest NI, said: “Propel is seen by many previous participants as the real catalyst behind their business success and we believe it presents the ideal environment to foster creative, ambitious, early stage company teams or individuals, who have the potential to take-on international markets.”
Information and online application for Propel 2014/15 can be found at www.investni.com/propel-programme or at 0870 495 4841.