Invest Northern Ireland

We are pleased to welcome several entrepreneurs to the programme from Northern Ireland this year thanks to partnerships with Invest Northern Ireland and Health Innovation Research Alliance Northern Ireland (HIRANI).

We contacted the team from Invest NI to find out more.

Tell us about Invest Northern Ireland.

Invest NI Is Northern Ireland’s main economic development organisation and its role is to grow the local economy by helping new and existing businesses to compete internationally, and by attracting new investment to Northern Ireland. Invest NI supports, helps, stimulates business development, helps to increase productivity and export levels, attracts high quality inward investment, and stimulate a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Invest NI can help businesses succeed through a combination of financial support, tailored guidance and information. We also provide support for sectors that offer high returns for the Northern Ireland economy. This involves helping to build the connections and infrastructure that will promote excellence in specific areas including life and health sciences.   Which the department for the economy has identified as one of five priority clusters in its 10x Economic Vision paper.

To achieve our goals we work in partnership with many other organisations across Northern Ireland to make it a dynamic, region to start and grow new business or to scale an existing business, with innovation at the core of the entrepreneurial process.

What does innovation and entrepreneurship mean to your organisation?

Invest NI, working in partnership with a range of stakeholders, aims to stimulate entrepreneurial activity across Northern Ireland and increase the quantity and quality of new business start-ups and  in particular innovation driven enterprises (IDEs) with the potential to evolve into High Potential Start Ups. Our vision is to ensure that Northern Ireland becomes:

“A dynamic, region to start and grow new business or to scale an existing business, with innovation at the core of the entrepreneurial process.”

What made you decide to become a partner on the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme? And what does the programme mean to you?

Historically Invest NI has worked with a range of start-ups from all sectors, but in supporting the Department’s 10x Economic Vision, we are now exploring ways that we can bring more focus to this activity, and in particular seek to stimulate more IDEs to emerge from the Department’s priority clusters including Life and health Sciences. Feeding the traditional pipeline of future entrepreneurs and start-up’s has historically relied on academia and industry spill over, however there remains an untapped knowledge base in Northern Ireland, in  terms of the healthcare sector. Currently HSC NI employs approx. 60,000 people in NI, spanning a broad range of disciplines.

Both HSC and HIRANI have expressed interest and support in encouraging NI healthcare workers to look at innovation and entrepreneurship as a means of developing value added solutions for healthcare and economic return. We are also keen to explore new ways to encourage innovations from within the health care system that will improve overall patient care.

Accessing NHS England’s Clinical Entrepreneurship programme will encourage and enable NI healthcare workers to develop innovative ideas with support and mentoring that would not be available to them otherwise from the extensive CEP network as well as being able to access support from Northern Ireland and other economic development partners here.

Being part of this programme will generate a pipeline of healthcare aligned entrepreneurs and potentially companies which will aid and accelerate innovation and commercialisation in the life and health science sector and contribute to the economy in Northern Ireland.  In time it will lead to these new innovations becoming available to the NHS, improving the service provision for the benefit of patients.

How do you hope to support the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme in the future?

We hope to continue working in partnership with CEP, NHS, Hirani, HSC and other stakeholders to provide the opportunity for more healthcare professionals working in Northern Ireland to take part in this programme enabling participants will gain knowledge, commercial skills and experience to make their ideas become a reality, providing real solutions to challenges within the healthcare system.

For Invest NI the CEP is focused on stimulating HPSUs in the life and health science sector and aligns with the Department for the Economy’s new innovation driven 10x economy, which identifies Life and Health Sciences as one of its 5 priority clusters.  Invest NI is also working closely with the Department for the Economy and key stakeholders in the delivery of Northern Ireland City and Growth Deals which have a clear focus on innovation and with a number of the projects focusing on the Life and Health Sciences sector. We hope to support the entrepreneurs through the programme to innovate, collaborate and push the boundaries of health innovation, to capitalise on major opportunities, tackle barriers to growth, and contribute to the economy.

How can we find out more?

Please visit our website for social media channels for more information.

The NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme is supported by over 60 partners, Invest NI are one such partners. They help support, shape, and develop the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme. Our partner network provides opportunities for our Clinical Entrepreneurs including internships, access to NHS test and evaluation sites, academic and commercial, knowledge exchange and connection to customers.

If your organisation is interested in Partnership opportunities, please contact the team at

Published by Lucy Dentice

Deputy Programme Manager for the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme.