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Startup Support in...Belfast

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by Startacus Admin

Belfast Startup Support
Belfast based startups and entrepreneurs take note - here's the lowdown on key startup support and help available where you are..

Away from the established startup hubs like London, the support for setting up a business in the UK isn’t always so clear. It’s not a lack of support, just a quieter ecosystem that takes a little more work to unearth. We want to help with this by highlighting what some cities, which might not spring immediately to mind at the mention of ‘startups’, have to offer.

From the startup support available in Aberdeen, we are hopping across the water to our own Northern Ireland, with particular focus on Belfast, although much of the Picture Steven Hylands Pexelsbelow will apply to entrepreneurs from across NI.

Ps. NI wide Startups reading this article before the 29th May '19, should take a look at applying for upSTART - the startup pitch competition at Digital DNA 2019, which is exclusive to Northern Ireland based startups only and features an all-expenses paid trip to explore the New York tech scene for the winning NI startup!

Belfast Co-Working spaces

Glandore - Glandore provides flexible serviced office and coworking space to let in landmark locations in business & tech hubs of Belfast City Centre. Offering companies an immediate set up in fully furnished, Grade-A serviced offices, together with coworking space. Recently renovated and designed in a stylish and contemporary theme offering a Members Lounge and a fab roof top terrace.

Blick Shared Studios is a local, independent social enterprise offering affordable shared workspace, events, services and support for creatives in Belfast. It has 3 locations in Belfast, all of which offer desks in the shared space and private offices, as well as free use of meeting space.

Ormeau Baths is located in a historic bath house in the centre of Belfast, and offers hot desking, fixed desks, and private offices, as well as a 1600 sq. ft event space. It is partnered with Barclays Eagle Labs, Ulster University, PropelNI, and the UK Business Angels Association.

LoftSpace in the city centre offers hot desks and fixed desks, and their plans are inclusive of meeting room access, weekly social events, printing and copying, tea and coffee, breakout area and showers, discounts and perks.

Headspace has recently opened a co-working space in Belfast, boasting a lot of natural light and secure, monitored access. This one is aimed at the creative, media, and technology sector, with hot desking and fixed desks.

StepSpaceStepSpace is a growth space that works alongside the brightest and best companies to help their rapid growth.

The Foundry is run by East Belfast Enterprise and offers hot desks or full-time desks for up to 21 people 10 offices, and a studio space. Included is meeting room access, parking, write-on walls, free access to events, and the all-important free tea and coffee.


Based in the Belfast, Clarendon Fund Managers Limited is a venture capital fund manager that manages £42.5m of regional VC Funds in Northern Ireland, including the £30m Co-Investment Fund. This is match-funding that typically invests between £50k-£250k, and continues to support growth thereafter.

The Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) has launched the 'HBAN Business Angel Syndicate'  which is managed in NI by Clarendon Fund Managers.

finance and investment Belfast startupsTechstart Ventures is a seed capital investor across Northern Ireland and Scotland, investing capital to prove out business ideas and fuel early growth. They offer both proof-of-concept cash and venture capital funding.

Another Belfast-based VC is Crescent Capital, investing in early stage businesses. They help unlock your business’s potential with their experience and knowledge, their network, their guidance and support.

The Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Venture Funds is one of the largest and most active sources of equity finance for technology companies on the island of Ireland. They invest in all stages of growth.

Via Invest NI you could apply for a £5K Innovation Voucher that provides funding to small and medium sized businesses to work with an expert knowledge provider from a University, College or other Public Sector Research Body bringing new knowledge to help businesses innovate, develop and grow.

The startup ecosystem and programmes

Digital DNA - Taking place on 18 &19 June in St George's Market seeing 3,000+ Delegates through the doors over 2 days to hear from 150 Speakers, inspired by 80 hrs of content on our 8 key themes. Bringing together top VC and Angel investors, judges and industry experts, this year upSTART, the startup pitch competition at Digital DNA is exclusive to Northern Ireland based startups only and features an all-expenses paid trip to explore the New York tech scene for the winning NI startup. 

The IgniteNI pre-accelerator and accelerator offers 6 months and 12 weeks respectively, and £15k in grant funding and investment, respectively. Participants will receive space in the above-mentioned Ormeau Baths co-working space, and up to 5 will be offered an additional 3 months support to get a foothold in San Francisco.

Tech Nation NI - Gary Davidson is the Tech Nation point of contact for NI and he is doing a good job supporting tech entrepreneurs and helping them to develop ideas into Belfast startup supportreality supporting the UK-wide Tech Nation team.

The 1 Day Accelerator : XP1 is a a lean and quick startup approach to validate your idea. With their first 1 day event happening on 18th May in Belfast wanna-entrepreneurs will experience workshops, expert talks, and 1-1 workshop session.

Catalyst is a not-for-profit organisation working together for the greater good, enabling a connected community of like-minded innovators in an entrepreneurial eco-system that is the key driver of the knowledge economy in Northern Ireland! Lots of programmes and lots of opportunities.

Catalyst Belfast Fintech HubThe Catalyst Fintech Hub aims to the grow the cluster of local early stage technology companies operating in the finance space who are ambitious to scale and expand into new markets.

The Hub - The Hub is a new free-of-charge NI community platform tailored to the needs of growth startups featuring opportunities, jobs, funds etc.

Ulsterbank Entrepreneur Accelerator offers a pre-accelerator which is an intensive, eight-week programme for early stage startups and and a six-month accelerator programme for entrepreneurs with high growth businesses who are looking to scale up.

The Raise Accelerator is Northern Ireland's first privately-run startup accelerator based in Silicon Alley in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.

Ulster University - The UUSU Enterprise Centre operates across four Ulster University campuses helping students and graduates develop and achieve their business ambitions through programmes, funding, advice,resources and opportunities. 

Queens University - Enterprise SU has a range of support services for students and graduates wishing to start their own business. They run a number of useful programmes for students including InnovateHer and Belfast Enterprise Academy.

Go For It
 offers 6 hours of bespoke 1-1 mentoring and group workshops to develop first your business idea and then your business plan. You will receive finance and business planning advice and guidance through further workshops, and they can help locate funding. The programme is open to businesses trading for under 6 months.

InvestNI is there to help you with all aspects of business, from getting ready for Brexit, to finding funding, to improving skills, finding markets, and more.

InterTradeIreland helps SMEs across the island of Ireland by offering practical cross-border business funding, intelligence and contacts.

As always, this is far from an exhaustive list and is here to help get you started, so feel free to let us know at if you think there is a particularly deserving entity in any of these categories.

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Published on: 28th April 2019

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