Posted on Monday 25 March 2013 by Ulster Business


Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster announces an extra £4m for two Invest NI Access to Finance funds with Aaron Taylor, CEO of GoPrezzo, Mike Bowman of E-Synergy and Gillian McKeown from Invest NI.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has announced an extra £4m for two Invest Northern Ireland Access to Finance funds designed to help new businesses.

The additional investment is for the Northern Ireland Spin Out Funds (NISPO), with £2m going into the Invest Growth Fund and £2m added to the Proof of Concept Fund, both of which are managed by E-Synergy.

The Invest Growth Fund is a £5m venture capital fund focussed on seed and early stage businesses with high growth potential. Invest NI will be providing the further £2m to the fund for investment until March 2014.

The £3m Invest NI Proof of Concept Fund is a pre-commercial grant awarding fund which enables SMEs, individuals and micro businesses to establish the commercial potential of a concept resulting from in-house research and ideas. This fund had been exhausted due to high take up from start-up companies and so Invest NI is to provide grant support for a further £2m until March 2014.

The Minister said: "Both of these funds have received a lot of interest, with all the Proof of Concept grant funds invested ahead of schedule. It is clear there is a lot of demand for support so I am pleased to announce that Invest Northern Ireland will be providing a further £2m in each of these funds ensuring we are able to provide support and help to businesses at the early stage of development."

Mike Bowman, Director of E-Synergy added: "We are delighted this extra investment has been made available. The level of interest clearly demonstrates there is a need for these funds and we are keen to go back to those we have been unable to help with Proof of Concept grant funding to tell them the fund is now open again. The additional investment in the Invest Growth Fund will allow us to invest in more companies and support them over a longer period of time with both money and expertise."

GoPrezzo is one company to benefit from funding through both the Proof of Concept and Invest Growth funds.

Speaking about the extension to the fund Aaron Taylor, CEO of GoPrezzo said: "Accessing finance at such an early stage of development is not easy. Getting support through the Proof of Concept fund helped us with the initial concept prototype development for our innovative gaming platform, and the Invest Growth investment then ensured we were able to develop our business model and launch the product. The advice and support we received from E-Synergy with introductions in both London and New York was invaluable."



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