Ulster Bank triples support for entrepreneurs – 150 places available on Ulster Bank’s Accelerator Programme but deadline to apply is fast approaching

Ulster Bank is tripling its support for entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland by making 150 places available on the next intake of its fully funded accelerator programme.

Interested entrepreneurs are being invited to join the largest cohort to date in the Belfast Hub but must submit their online application before the midnight deadline on August 16.

The increase comes as the bank recommits to developing entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland and encourages startups with high growth potential to scale and succeed.

Since the programmes inception in 2016, more than 800 business owners have received free coaching and networking support, as well as access to a community and the use of modern office facilities in Belfast’s city centre.

Throughout its tenure in Belfast, the accelerator team have delivered specialist programmes targeting female founders, entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds, and those working to address climate change, something John Ferris, Regional Ecosystem Manager at Ulster Bank, says has been key to growing and developing a greater sense of entrepreneurship in the city.

“Our Belfast hub has supported hundreds of entrepreneurs since we first opened our doors 8 years ago and we know there is a real community of innovative startups here, but we can still do more and that’s very much our aim with this new intake, which will be our largest to date.

“We have a team here with the expertise to support ambitious businesses to grow, not just through traditional lending but with full wraparound support for those who secure a place on the programme, which will be crucial if we want to develop a stronger, more resilient economy.”

One business which has used the programme as a catalyst for growth is Needi, an intelligent online gifting service using psychology and AI to match gifts from local independent businesses for any occasion or celebration.

Needi will complete their Seed funding round of £895K next month, bringing their total investment to over £1M, thanks to the support and introductions from the Ulster Bank Accelerator team.

Co-founder, Louise Doyle says that a spot on Ulster Bank’s Accelerator programme opened some significant doors for her and her business partner which has helped them secure investment.

“Undoubtedly joining the programme opened a lot of doors for us and connected us with investors who have helped propel Needi’s growth journey.

“When we first came on board, we had plenty of ideas and ambition, but the coaching and mentorship gave us the tools we needed to put these plans into action.

“More than that though, working alongside a spirited community of like-minded entrepreneurs has been beneficial and encouraged us to keep going when things got tough. Any ambitious entrepreneur who wants to take their business to the next level should strongly consider applying, make use of the ready-made network, and be open to the coaching opportunities. You never know where it might take you.”

Other notable alumni from the Belfast Hub include luggage company, MadLug, and TriMedika, producers of medical grade non-contact thermometers. In addition to the Belfast Hub, NatWest also operates similar programmes throughout the UK and is aiming to onboard 2,500 entrepreneurs across its 13 accelerator programmes this year.

Applications to join the Belfast cohort can be found at www.ulsterbank.co.uk/accelerator and must be submitted no later than 23:59 on Friday August 16.