1,000 jobs and £20m investment through Belfast business accelerator

  • Figures revealed at the relaunch of the Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator
  • £3.4m in investment, £2.7m in turnover and 110+ businesses supported in 2018
  • 53% of entrepreneurs supported by the Belfast Hub in 2018 were female
Entrepreneurs, business leaders, mentors and funders gathered in the new Belfast Hub today (Wednesday 20th February) to mark the relaunch of the Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator.
Now housed in Ulster Bank’s main Belfast headquarters, the fully-funded accelerator programme empowers entrepreneurs with the tools they need to start, scale and succeed and has become an integral part of the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem since launching in Belfast in 2015.
The event also included the latest findings from the 2018 Impact Report. Guests heard how the Belfast Hub, which is one of 12 Entrepreneur Accelerator hubs located across the UK, continues to have a positive bearing on high-growth start-ups and larger businesses seeking to scale up.
Headline impact figures revealed at today’s event show the programme has supported 400 entrepreneurs who have gone on to create over 1,000 jobs predominately based in Northern Ireland, while securing more than £20m in investment for local business.
Notably, 53% of the entrepreneurs supported by the Belfast Hub in 2018 were female, compared to nationally where only 20% of SMEs are run by women. Lynsey Cunningham, Ulster Bank’s Director of Regional Entrepreneurship welcomed these findings.
“Advancing female entrepreneurship and supporting female business leaders is a long-standing priority for Ulster Bank, particularly this year, and I’m pleased to see so many women taking the opportunity to join the UK’s largest fully-funded accelerator network.
“Despite this positive outlook, we know that women are still less likely than men to start their own business so we are working hard to address this imbalance and better understand the challenges and barriers which are preventing some women from embracing their entrepreneurial skillset.
“Our current cohort of entrepreneurs is performing exceptionally well, securing over £750,000 worth of investment in January 2019 alone. This is a clear demonstration of the passion and drive of our entrepreneurs and underpins why Ulster Bank is at the heart of Northern Ireland’s
entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Addressing the audience at the event, Richard Donnan, Ulster Bank’s Head of NI said it was a for Ulster Bank to welcome the hub into its main headquarters. 
“Having the Belfast Hub in house is an significant move for Ulster Bank and we are pleased to be so closely aligned with dynamic work that they do. Teams across all business divisions in Ulster Bank are being energised by the vibrancy of our entrepreneurs who in turn are given even closer access to coaching from our business leaders and connections to our expanding customer network.
“We have invested over £400,000 to create the new space for the Belfast Hub as a further demonstration of our long term support for the Accelerator programme which is already showing positive signs of growth in 2019.”
As part of the event, four of the current intake of entrepreneurs took part in a pitching competition judged by Chris Totter, Clarendon FM; Sharon McKinley, Grafton Recruitment; Elizabeth Trudeau, US Consul General and Ulster Bank’s Chief Economist, Richard Ramsey.
The competition was won by Julie Brien of TriMedika who walked away with a cash prize of £1,000 to help grow the West Belfast-based medical devices company. Co-Founders Julie Brien and Dr. Roisin Molloy who have been involved with the Accelerator Programme since 2016, said the prize money would go towards an upcoming trip to Africa where they plan to introduce the technology in this region.
For more information about the work of the accelerator programme or to find out how to apply for the next intake. Contact www.ulsterbank.co.uk/accelerator