The Gallaher Trust Funds New Initiative to Boost Innovation in Ballymena

Charity Commits Up to £168,000 to Project that will Create Over 50 Jobs

A TOTAL of 54 new jobs are set to be created in Ballymena over the next five years, through a unique pilot project entitled 4i Innovation designed and managed by Ballymena Business Centre and in association with Innovate NI.

The project will coach businesses how to improve their innovation and it’s hoped that the programme will boost the innovative capabilities of local businesses and improve the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s overall innovation ranking within Northern Ireland.  

Open to all businesses within the Ballymena area, regardless of size or sector, project participants will undertake Innovate NI’s Self-Assessment to discover where they are on its ‘Innovation Framework’. The project will support businesses to progress through Innovate NI’s Framework using the latest business modelling tools from, FourSight individual profiling, innovation coaching and business support including access to potential funding.

Claiming that alongside boosting job prospects, Lauren McAteer, a Trustee of The Gallaher Trust’s Board said that the project would go a long way towards helping Ballymena businesses to become more agile in turbulent market conditions. 

“On behalf of The Gallaher Trust, we are delighted to support the 4i Innovation project,” she said. 

“We are confident that this project will help businesses to learn to adapt to changing times and to become more agile in the face of turbulent market conditions. Not only that but the project will also improve employment opportunities for those living in the wider Ballymena community, which is one of the Trust’s main objectives. 

“Through this project, we hope to help improve the region’s innovation capabilities, which would be a major achievement.”

Speaking about the idea behind the programme, Stephen Scullion, Ballymena Business Centre’s 4i Innovation Manager said: “We are all natural innovators; we solve problems every day using our own creativity, but we are all creative in different ways. Understanding how we think and look at things differently can help us to understand how we approach a challenge or solve a problem. When we combine this understanding within a framework for innovation alongside new ways to look at business modelling, we can create real sustainable value for customers with increased profits. 

“We’ve established the 4i Innovation project in a bid to address low levels of innovation. We’re aiming to demystify what innovation is and create a common language to help businesses understand how to apply innovation and in turn, how to utilise innovation to grow and expand their business. 

“The Ballymena Business Centre has been a one stop shop in terms of supporting businesses since 1989 and this project is another example of how we provide business solutions tailored to meet the current economic demands and opportunities.” 

Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Director of Innovation, Research and Development added: “This unique partnership will provide businesses with a valuable insight into how to turn their ideas into value – working through the Innovation Framework will guide companies through the four essential stages of successful innovation – ideation, selection, development and commercialisation.

“Over the past 18 months, Northern Ireland businesses have shown how strong and resilient they are; local companies have adapted, pivoted and innovated to survive the economic challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. This project will provide the Ballymena business community with the opportunity to foster this culture of innovation for years to come.

“I would strongly encourage anyone interested in growing their ideas to avail of the innovation support available to do this successfully; the 4i Innovation project provides a great avenue for business to access the help they need.” 
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