24/10/2001

Northern Ireland is Best for Business in the UK

The Business to Business Bridge Programme, part of the Northern Ireland Business in the Community initiative, has been voted Best for Business in the UK.

The programme picked up the top award at the national final of the One 2 One Best for Business competition. Now in its fourth year, the competition rewards the most innovative and effective initiatives supporting small and growing businesses in the UK and offers the winner a £5,000 prize to promote growth.

Business in the Community was selected over ten other initiatives across the UK, with Business Link York & North Yorkshire’s Food Sector Design Best Practice voted as runner up.

Deirdre Timoney, North East Area Manager with Business in the Community, commented: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this award in respect of the Business to Business Bridge programme, particularly as it is the first time organisations from Northern Ireland have been eligible to enter and the quality of the competition was particularly high.

“The Business to Business Bridge programme has been particularly successful, providing practical support for the small business sector in Northern Ireland. This award is an accolade to the many large firms that have supported the initiative and to the programme funders LEDU (the small firms agency) and the International Fund for Ireland.”

A national organisation with a core membership of 700 companies, Business in the Community includes 75 per cent of the FTSE 100. Around 200 of these companies are members in Northern Ireland.

The Business to Business Bridge programme has been in operation for nine years and seeks to engage large, private sector companies in the development of small/medium enterprises by offering advisory services on a range of business practices including marketing, product development and e-commerce.

Drawing on the expertise of many large companies across Northern Ireland, such as DuPont (UK) Ltd, F G Wilson, Mivan Group, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sx3 and W&G Bairds Ltd, the programme has, to date, assisted over 1000 new and growing businesses and leveraged more than £250,000 of in kind support for the local small to medium enterprise sector.

Best for Business is open to organisations from both the private and public sector. Any initiative – from a simple leaflet on using the web, to a multi-million pound project designed to put the heart back into local business communities – is eligible. (MB)

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