Business

New government-backed scheme to help firms innovate

L-R: Noel Lavery, Permanent Secretary at the Department for the Economy; Gillian Kelly, STATSports; Vicky Kell, Invest NI and Magnus Penker, founder of the Innovation360 Group
Ryan McAleer

A NEW government-backed scheme has been launched to help businesses around the north to innovate.

The Department for the Economy says the goal of the Innovation Accreditation Programme is to increase the number of businesses from the north successfully engaging in innovation activity.

The department's Permanent Secretary Noel Lavery said the initiative reflects the ambition set out in the draft Programme for Government and the department's innovation atrategy 2014-2025.

“This new Innovation Accreditation Programme for Northern Ireland will help achieve that vision by supporting businesses to invest in innovation and improve their global competitiveness.

“I am confident it will be recognised as a differentiator, setting companies apart from their competitors.”

Invest NI's innovation director, Dr Vicky Kell, said: “If we are to create a more competitive, higher value Northern Ireland economy we need to significantly improve our rates of successful innovation.

“The Innovation Accreditation Programme will help support Northern Ireland businesses to foster a culture of innovation. Innovation adds value and so will help their businesses thrive.”

The new accreditation programme consists of a unique Northern Ireland innovation certification scheme, as well as an internationally recognised innovation accreditation from Sweden-based company i360. The version for the north features a bronze, silver, gold or platinum level certificate relating to their current innovation maturity.

“In introducing this accreditation programme, Northern Ireland is the first country to offer a regional innovation certification to help companies progress on their innovation journey,” said Dr Kell.

“Some companies may ultimately progress to the internationally recognised accreditation, enabling them to benchmark themselves against, and learn from, some of the world's leading global brands in over 30 countries.”

Having achieved platinum status certification at the regional level, Newry company STATSports is the first business in Northern Ireland to also successfully complete, and achieve, the full i360 Internationally Recognised Accreditation.

Gillian Kelly, head of business partnering of STATSports, said: “We are delighted to achieve the i360 innovation accreditation.

“Innovation is at the core of everything we do at STATSports and this accreditation process has enabled us to benchmark ourselves to the world's most successful innovators, but more than anything, the accreditation process has given us our innovation success plan for the future, which is so important for the continued growth and success of STATSports.”

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