Start-up programme celebrates £18m milestone

Current participants on the Invest NI Propel Programme are pictured with Niall Casey, director of skills and strategy

Current participants on the Invest NI Propel Programme are pictured with Niall Casey, director of skills and strategy

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Twenty of Northern Ireland’s highest potential start-up businesses have been selected to participate in the second phase of the highly sought after Invest Northern Ireland Propel Programme and helped it reach a significant milestone of over £18m secured investment for current and past participants.

The programme, which is designed to fast-track export focussed business ideas with high growth potential, has now assisted over 140 companies over the past five years and latest figures show that as well as the funding milestone, it has helped create over 430 jobs so far.

The 2016 cohort is comprised of a diverse range of start-ups including Swig, the world’s first dedicated hip flask brand, Unique 11, a social gaming platform recently selected to create the official IFA fantasy football game for Euro 2016 and Flyte, a company creating ground-breaking new software for drone pilots.

The Propel Programme is designed to give each of them the opportunity to work on an accelerated development plan, benefit from expert one-to-one mentoring and attend workshops aimed at making their business ideas investor ready. Each entrepreneur will also gain access to new shared office workspace in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and up to £20,000 worth of financial support.

Speaking about the economic impact of the programme to date, Niall Casey, Invest Northern Ireland’s Director of Skills and Strategy said:

“The Propel programme is aimed at high calibre entrepreneurs who have the passion and energy to succeed on an international stage. These investment figures are testament to the success of these entrepreneurs, as well as to the success of the programme in helping them create investor ready businesses, which are prepared to compete in export markets.

The results are confirmation of the significant contribution Propel Programme participants continue to make the local economy and we have no doubt that the 2016 cohort will contribute significantly to these encouraging figures in the years ahead.”

elly Neill, founder of Panacea Drinks, which produces healthy soft drinks, is one of the current participants:

“I was thrilled to be offered a place on the Propel Programme. It’s a landmark opportunity for the business, which is enabling me to challenge our business plan and refine our growth strategy. The next phase of this growth plan will see us target the UK, Ireland and Germany and with the help of the expert mentors on the programme, we’re confident that 2017 will see Panacea Drinks become a significant international brand.”