Northern Ireland’s first Entrepreneurial Spark ‘Hatchery’ aimed at support entrepreneurs to develop their businesses has been opened by Finance Minister Mervyn Storey.
Ulster Bank and KPMG have joined with Entrepreneurial Spark, the world’s largest free business accelerator programme, to help entrepreneurs develop early stage and growing business ventures.
The Belfast ‘Hatchery’ will give around 80 entrepreneurs networking and workshop opportunities, access to a team of business enablers, free office space, IT and wifi, for up to 18 months.
Opening the centre with Alison Rose, CEO of commercial and private banking at RBS, Mr Storey said: “The fact that Belfast has been chosen as a location for an Entrepreneurial Spark ‘Hatchery’, powered by Ulster Bank, is both a recognition and endorsement of the talent and entrepreneurial flair that exists in Northern Ireland and the potential there is to develop that further.
“Small businesses, and the entrepreneurs behind them, are the lifeblood of our local economy and it’s vital they receive the support needed to enable them to grow, innovate and invest in their business venture.”
Entrepreneurial Spark has had success in Scotland and England, creating more than 1,800 jobs, securing £45 million in investment and enjoying a survival rate of over 80%.
Adding that the Executive was committed to working with the business community to achieve shared economic aims Mr Storey said: “ the business accelerator hub is a welcome addition to the business support landscape and will complement programmes already offered through Executive Departments and their agencies.”