Access to Finance

Accessing finance to support business growth and development can be difficult.  In recent years there has been a reduction in the number of private investors and banks willing to lend.  To help bridge this gap we have created a suite of funds under the banner Access to Finance.

There will be six funds in total, providing over £100m of available finance. The funds are either debt or equity based, and are designed to support businesses of different sizes, or at different stages of growth or development.  Each fund is managed by an independent, experienced FSA approved fund manager – we do not have any role in deciding which businesses the funds choose to invest in.  In some cases Invest NI is the sole provider of investment to the fund, in others we are one of several investors. Below is a brief description of each fund and a link direct to the fund website where you will find more information and details on how to apply.

The Funds

  • NISPO (Northern Ireland Spin Out) Funds
    Fund Manger: E-Synergy

    A £17m collection of funds for start up and early stage businesses based in Northern Ireland.  Includes the Invest NI Proof of Concept Fund, Invest Growth Fund, the Queens’ University Belfast Innovation Fund (QUBIF) and the Ulster Innovation Fund (UIF).  Support also includes the Investment Readiness Programme (IRP) – a training and support programme.  Funding rounds typically range from £50k to £250k.
    For details visit:

  • Co-Fund NI
    Fund Manager: Clarendon Fund Managers

    A £16m fund for SMEs based in Northern Ireland.  The fund co-invests alongside business angels and other private investors. The fund can provide co-investment in deals typically valued between £250k and £450k, at a ratio of up to 50%.
    For details visit:

  • Growth Loan Fund
    Fund Manager: WhiteRock Capital Partners

    A £50m loan fund for SMEs that can demonstrate sales and profitability growth, or strong growth potential.  Loans are typically between £50k and £500k.
    For details visit:

  • NI Small Business Loan Fund
    Fund Manager: UCI

    A £5m loan fund for individuals, private companies and social enterprises in the SME and micro enterprise size range. Loans are typically unsecured and range between £1k and £50k.
    For details visit:

  • The Development Funds
    The Development fund is a £30 million fund with a 10 year term. The Fund will invest between £450,000 and £2 million and will be made up of public and private equity funding. This Fund is still in development. We will announce the details as soon as they are finalised.


Applying for funding can be daunting, especially if you are a new or small business and have never done this before.  To help we have introduced a new initiative called the Finance Voucher.  If you are an SME and need help developing a funding proposal because you do not have the expertise in house, then you can apply for a Finance Voucher. It will cover up to 49% of the cost of a consultant to help you prepare your funding proposal, to a maximum of £4,000. Below is more detail on the Voucher, and a link to the application form.

Access to Finance - Finance Voucher Overview (PDF)
Access to Finance - Finance Voucher Application Form (DOC)

If you would like to talk to someone first, contact our Business Support team on 0800 181 4422.


We are also running Raising Finance Workshops which provide advice and guidance on where to find sources of finance, and how to apply.  More details on these workshops, dates and venues can be found on our events page.