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Economy Minister Diane Dodds today launched a new Invest Northern Ireland grant scheme to support businesses to investigate and implement new digital technologies that will improve business operations.

The COVID-19 Process and Organisational Improvement Grant (POIG) is one of eight new schemes developed by Invest NI over the last year to help businesses address the impact of COVID-19 on their operations.

The Minister said: “This new scheme from Invest NI will provide grant support to eligible companies to accelerate the benefits of Industry 4.0, which is the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology.

“Through this scheme, companies will be supported to develop and implement process and organisational improvements using digital technologies, such as automation, robotics or digitisation. These improvements will ultimately improve the resilience and efficiency of these businesses for the future.”

POIG is open to any business operating in one of the following sectors:

  • manufacturing
  • construction
  • information and communication
  • professional, scientific and technical activities.

Eligible businesses will be able to apply for support towards staff, and potential consultancy costs, as part of a process or organisation improvement project. Eligible projects must have minimum labour (internal staff) or consultancy costs of £40,000, of which internal staff costs must be at least 20%.

Applications are now open, and will close at 12 noon on Friday 21 May 2021.

The maximum level of grant support will be £50,000 for small and medium size companies and £200,000 for large companies.

Kevin Holland, CEO, Invest NI, said: “The specific aim of this scheme is to improve company competitiveness by helping companies build out internal teams to research, identify and implement improvements using new technologies. It will also provide support towards engaging the advice of consultants as needed, if the knowledge does not exist within the business.

“The internal team must be specifically involved in investigating new and different technologies to help the business change operations; and to then implement these new process and organisation improvements. The improvements must support the business to work in a new way and help it towards Industry 4.0.”

Funding will be awarded to applicants on a competitive basis. Applications will be assessed and scored, with the highest scoring companies awarded funding, until the available funding budget for this call has been fully allocated or the minimum criterion score is reached. For more information visit www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/poig