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New IT Initiative Launched for SME’s
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WITH the continued pressure on small businesses and the local economy still struggling,  a new initiative has been launched which will see funding made available for SME’s in Northern Ireland to invest in ICT projects.

InnovateUs, offers funded ICT support, which is delivered by the six Further Education Colleges, led by South Eastern Regional College (SERC). The InnovateUs project is financed by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) through its Further Education Sector Employer Support Programme.

The Initiative was launched at an event in the Pump House, Belfast where local businesses gathered to hear from IT industry experts about latest IT trends and to learn more of the assistance that could be offered to their business through the new InnovateUs project.

At the launch SERC Principal and Chief Executive Ken Webb said: “This project is about the FE sector demonstrating its value to the private sector, especially SME’s.  Technology is a driver of innovation and growth and these projects allows companies to benefit from expert knowledge and practical support.”

Pictured at the InnovateUs launch are Donna Crothers, DEL, Dr Chris Meenan, IBM, Ken Webb, SERC and Maurice Patton, from Grave Concern Ireland. The InnovateUs project aiming to support SME’€™s through funding ICT projects.

ICT projects which can be funded in the InnovateUs project include Research and Development, where businesses get the opportunity to get personalised support to investigate new technologies.  Also mentoring can be given for one-to-one support as well as Knowledge Enhancement engagements, which allows existing employees to benefit from industry experts working within their business.

Brian Majury, SERC IT manager said: “Through InnovateUs companies can work with industry experts to develop new ideas for businesses which may include new systems, e-commerce solutions or software solutions and testing.  Each project will be bespoke solutions, which is tailored to the requirements of the organisation.

“These projects will also have the additional benefit of generating growth with the IT industry in Northern Ireland, as businesses become more reliant on new technology to help grow their business.  This could mean opportunities for local IT firms to increase maintenance and continued investment once the initial projects have been implemented.”

Attending the launch was local business owner, Maurice Patton, Grave Concern Ireland.  Through the InnovateUs project, his business has been able to develop the use of modern technologies to access more information on headstones.  Commenting on the launch Maurice said: “As a small business owner, initiatives like these are a great support when trying to develop new business practices and research new markets, my experience has been very positive and the work carried out through the InnovativeUs project will help to grow our business for the future.”

For further details on how businesses can get results from InnovateUs contact Brian Majury on bmajury@serc.ac.uk