Operational Programme 'Northern-Ireland'

Programme under the Competitiveness and Employment objective 2007-2013 co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

United Kingdom

Additional tools


The European Commission approved on 30 October 2007 a regional development programme for Northern Ireland for the period 2007-2013 within the framework of the "Regional Competitiveness and Employment" objective. The total budget of the programme is around € 614 million and the Community funding through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounts to around € 307 million.

1. The purpose and aim of the EU investment

The Northern Ireland Sustainable Competitiveness Programme will support the regional strategy by promoting investment in research and technological development and encouraging enterprise and entrepreneurship in an overall context of sustainable development. The ERDF Programme will focus on providing the essential environment for businesses to flourish and establish the links between research bodies and companies.

2. The expected impact of the investment

The programme is expected to establish 6 new centres of excellence in Research and Development (R&D) and to contribute to the setting up of 250 new companies by 2013. The programme should increase private sector investment in Research and Technology Development (R&TD) by £36 million per year. It is expected that the programme will contribute to 3,500 start-ups of which 50% will be female owned. The programme managers hope to ensure that all businesses in Northern Ireland will have access to next generation broadband network speeds. By 2013 at least 25% of the businesses supported should enter new markets and increases in e-business should improve by over 15% during the programming period.

3. Priorities

The Northern Ireland 2007-2013 ERDF programme is structured according to the following priorities:

Priority 1: Sustainable Competitiveness and Innovation

The focus of this priority is on increasing the level and quality of R&TD, exploiting the commercial opportunities of the R&TD base; and encouraging the promotion and mainstreaming of innovation. This priority will help increase expenditure on R&TD, innovation and design by companies across all sectors and build the absorptive capacity of NI companies for R&TD innovation. The priority will promote better links between businesses and the research sector; and support the development of research excellence through strengthening the innovation infrastructure. Financial engineering instruments will be used to support this process.

Priority 2: Sustainable Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

The objectives of this priority are to expand the private sector and create a world-class business climate in Northern Ireland by encouraging business start ups and improving survival rates. The priority aims to encourage growth of firms by encouraging companies of all types and sizes to become more market-aware, research aware, outward-looking, export orientated and committed to ongoing business development. The priority will promote foreign direct investment; and facilitate a globally competitive and sustainable tourism industry. Financial engineering instruments will be used to support this process.

Priority 3: Improving Accessibility and Protecting and Enhancing the Environment

This priority is geared towards protecting and enhancing the natural environment, promoting sustainable development and creating sustainable communities. It aims to improve key elements of the region's infrastructure to support and complement sustainable economic and social development. The priority aims to work with the private sector to upgrade existing first generation broadband infrastructure to one of the world’s first and most widely accessible next generation, high speed, telecommunications systems, with equitable access to broadband services of at least 20 Mbps (megabits per second) at equitable prices by 2011.

Priority 4: Technical assistance

There is also provision for technical assistance to help implementing the programme (communication activities, controls, evaluations...).

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'Northern-Ireland'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

CCI no


Number of decision

C/2007/5405 + C(2011) 6495

Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Sustainable Competitiveness and Innovation 160 000 000 140 000 000 300 000 000
Sustainable Enterprise and Entrepreneurship 105 000 000 95 000 000 200 000 000
Improving Accessibility and Protecting and Enhancing the Environment 38 000 000 38 000 000 76 000 000
Technical assistance 3 833 439 3 833 439 7 666 878
Total 306 833 439 276 833 439 583 666 878