Project Title: ASPIRE

Project Partners:      10 Member Councils of EBR LTD

Project Budget:            £2,073,344

Project Aim:

ASPIRE is an integrated cross-border small business and economic development programme which has been designed to tackle some of the particular problems associated with the economic downturn.  Its primary aim is to help 60 small businesses to develop by employing 60 graduates and harnessing graduate talent to create growing, strong, innovative businesses which will contribute to a sustainable regional employment, forge cross border linkages and become involved in export markets.

Project Summary:

East Border Region will deliver ASPIRE in partnership with the Further Education sector and one of the Programme's aims will be to improve the capability of Programme participants, so that some will be able to move on and take part in other companies' schemes like IntertradeIreland's Acumen and Fusion programmes, which tend to involve larger, more-sophisticated businesses.                            

ASPIRE addresses gaps in current provision, complements the work of other graduate-based programmes, is based on research and extensive consultation and has widespread support from economic development agencies and the further education sector.   

 ASPIRE has 3 unique elements:

  • It is a cross-border, graduate based business development programme which is aimed specifically at micro businesses; this is very important as the vast majority of businesses in the East Border Region employ fewer than 10 people, lie outside the support network provided by Invest NI and Enterprise Ireland and do not have access to programmes provided by these agencies; in addition, it also fills a gap not currently occupied by the County Enterprise Boards in the Republic of Ireland and the Local Enterprise Agencies in Northern Ireland


  • Graduate programmes traditionally have struggled to get the support of the Owner/Managers within the business; ASPIRE includes a compulsory three part training series for Owner Managers; this will give the owner/manager an opportunity to understand what innovation could mean for their company, and in partnership with their Business Advisor, prepare a business improvement plan for their business


  • Traditionally programmes have struggled to support both technical and commercial business projects; ASPIRE, although technically-oriented, will also look at commercial opportunities.

For Further Information on this project please contact:


Ms Sharon Daly

Project Officer

Tel: 028 4066 0609


Visit -

  • Monaghan
  • LCC
  • MCC
  • Newry, Mourne and Down District Council
  • Ards and North Down Borough Council
  • Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council