Northern Ireland has been chosen to receive a £7.5 million UK Government Launchpad to drive innovation and business growth, and to scale its life and health sciences sector.

The aim of the Launchpad is to accelerate life and health science innovation projects led by businesses, with the impact generating economic growth in the life sciences innovation cluster centred in Northern Ireland.

The Health Innovation Research Alliance NI (HIRANI) CEO, Joann Rhodes, welcoming the investment said: “With our drive and concentration of research and development strengths in science and innovation – it is little wonder that Innovate UK has chosen Northern Ireland for Launchpad funding.

“It is our distinctive capabilities in precision diagnostics, biomarkers and AI that help to set us apart from the rest – with world-class assets on our doorstep. These latest grants and support from Innovate UK will be transformational to help health and life sciences businesses of all sizes to unleash their full potential – and create quality, highly skilled jobs, growth, and training opportunities for our region.

“However, this is just the beginning when it comes to our ambitions for our area: this is the fastest growing sector in NI, with >£200M infrastructure investment and >£1B pipeline of new projects still to unlock. We are well positioned between the UK-EU and strong relationships in the US to exploit this investment – and are ready to seize every opportunity that comes our way.”

HIRANI will host an information event at the Waterfoot Hotel on 10th November from 2pm to 4.30pm for anyone looking for collaborators or support to build an application.

Under the Launchpad programme, businesses and researchers working to grow their impact in the region can apply for competitive grants, with other support, for innovation projects that focus on precision medicine.

The competition opens on October 30 with grant funding available starting from £25,000, with up to £1 million for projects that provide exceptional impact to the region.

The Launchpad programme is funded by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation. Launchpads are designed to build on innovation clusters around the UK that have significant growth potential and to deliver jobs, growth, and higher productivity, supporting the Government’s levelling-up agenda.

The Northern Ireland Launchpad has been co-developed with local partners Invest Northern Ireland, and tailored to meet the region’s needs and circumstances.

The projects will contribute to driving sectoral growth and assist companies to collaborate and explore routes to market for world-class life and health science solutions, to scale and create sustainable impact for health and wealth in NI.

Kerry Curran, Director of GB & EU Trade in the Department for the Economy said “The Department is delighted with the announcement of Innovate UK Launchpad funding for Northern Ireland’s trail blazing precision medicine sector.”

”Life and Health Science, including our highly innovative precision medicine cluster, is an area the Department is also prioritising through its 10X Economy Vision, and this Launchpad represents a further endorsement of the world-leading growth potential of precision medicine, and indeed life and health science, in Northern Ireland. The Department looks forward to working with partners across the life and health science ecosystem to maximise the benefits and harness the growth potential of this opportunity.”

Successful applicants will receive wrap-around business support, bespoke expert life science market expertise and UK, Ireland, and global connections for future matched investment.

Jeremy Fitch, Invest NI’s Executive Director of Business Solutions Group said: “We welcome this vital funding from Innovate UK which will support Northern Ireland’s Life Sciences companies to develop diagnostic and therapeutic technologies which will drive the growth of Northern Ireland’s precision medicine landscape. It’s great to see the power of successful collaboration in action and we are looking forward to continuing to build on our partnership with HIRANI and local councils to deliver this exciting initiative.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Patricia Logue said support from Innovate UK to establish a NI Life and Health Sciences Launchpad was hugely beneficial in giving local businesses access to specialist knowledge and the chance to collaborate on investment and funding opportunities.

“This Launchpad will help businesses identify their needs in terms of skills, regulations, and infrastructure as well as offering assistance on funding and opening investment opportunities. This bespoke initiative is very much in line with our City Deal innovation projects, providing targeted bespoke healthcare systems that in turn will deliver improved patient outcomes, by providing greater accessibility, early diagnosis, and effective treatment. It is a fantastic opportunity for local businesses to get involved and be part of this programme that will benefit our local community and create a more healthy, happy, and productive population.”

Welcoming the announcement and speaking on behalf of the Belfast Region City Deal partners, Belfast Lord Mayor, Ryan Murphy said: “This Launchpad funding is more good news for our innovative homegrown businesses. It’s supporting them to access opportunities in our burgeoning life and health science cluster, a key priority in the £1billion Belfast Region City Deal programme of investment over the next decade. And it’s even better news for people living here, as it will result in improved health diagnostics, devices and treatments.”

Innovate UK CEO Indro Mukerjee said: “Innovate UK is building strong regional partnerships across the UK to support local innovation and commercialisation. Our new Launchpads will help to attract further private sector R&D investment into innovation clusters, growing local economies and delivering societal and economic benefits to local communities.”

To find out more about the Northern Ireland Launchpad, go to: