Derry 2.0 - Funding That Digital StartUp Business 2

Last time out we looked at some of the traditional funding opportunities for getting your startup business idea off the ground. This week I’d like to take a quick look at some of the public sector supports available. It goes without saying that public sector supports can be useful but at the same time a business that is entirely reliant on them is no business at all. These supports can be a useful kickstart where private investment isn’t available

Start a Business Programme: The Go For It programme no longer gives out grants as standard but completing the process will help you get a business plan organised. Also, the team at NW Marketing, who run the programme in Derry, can advise you on some of the grants that do exist - specifically ones for young people and people starting businesses in economically challenged communities. Contact them on:

Proof of Concept Grants: ESynergy run a £3 million proof of concept fund, the Invest Growth Proof of Concept Fund, which is funded by Invest NI to provide funding to very early, non-university projects. They can award ‘mini grants’ of up to £10,000 and ‘standard grants’ of up to £40,000. They are retrospective (i.e. they reimburse what you spend rather than simply writing you a cheque) but a bit of ingenuity can make this work. Find out more at

TDI Scheme and Innovation Vouchers: If you’re serious about your business idea, then a meeting with InvestNI needs to be on your agenda. Two areas in particular might be of use to early stage companies. The TDI scheme can provide a grant of up to £3,000 to look at your intellectual property requirements (patents, trademarks etc...). An Innovation Voucher can help you receive up to £4,000 of expert support from a research organisation in Ireland (typically a university). Both are worth a look.

Competitions: Increasingly public sector organisations are using competition formats to source new ideas and fund innovation. In particular, keep an eye on the Technology Strategy Board website for opportunities. Closer to home, a regular peek at will keep you up-to-date with opportunities here.

Creative Industries Innovation Fund: And one such opportunity is the recently launched Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF), which will fund innovative new projects in the creative industries with up to £10,000. There’s more information at and the deadline is August 25th. If you would like some help with your application, please get in touch.

Free Investment Readiness Workshop

Next Thursday, August 4th, ESynergy will be running a full-day investment readiness workshop at the Nerve Centre in Derry, from 9am - 5.30pm.

This workshop will focus on the things you need to know when trying to raise money from investors and is ideal for anyone considering starting a digital business. Some of the topics will help you:

Determine whether venture capital is a viable source of funding for you

Begin to understand the VC/business angel investor perspective on your business

Hone your presentation skills and refine your ‘elevator’ pitch

Understand the necessary process of company valuation

Appreciate the importance ‘aligning interests’

Examine common investment terms as they might apply to your businesses

Know what to expect from the due diligence process

Become familiar with some of the procedural and legal requirements

Get an insight into early stage investment structures

Understand how to manage the post-investment scene to best effect

This is a specifically tailored event for digital companies in the region and will run from 9am-530pm with lunch being provided. If you are interested in attending please email digitalderry[at]

Mark Nagurski is Derry’s Digital Champion, based at the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce. You can contact him by email to or by visiting