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Invest Northern Ireland Innovate NI

Promoting innovation to Northern Irish businesses

The Challenge

From life-changing inventions like pneumatic tyres and the modern tractor and life-saving inventions such as the portable defibrillator and the ejector seat, Northern Ireland has a long and illustrious legacy of innovation.


However, in 2017 the UK Innovation Survey acknowledged only 39% of Northern Ireland businesses were actively engaged in innovation between 2014 and 2016, ranking the region number 12 out of the 12 in the UK!


Whilst it appeared from this survey that our innovation culture may be faltering, the NI Executive believed that by implementing the Northern Ireland Innovation Strategy 2014-2025, growing business engagement levels in innovation across all sectors, Northern Ireland could again climb the rankings.

Tasked with delivering upon this strategy and aiming to propel the region into the top 4 rankings, Invest NI recognised that stimulating business growth through higher levels of innovation meant companies needed to embrace a range of activities including research and development; product and process development; marketing; e-commerce among others.


Innovation means different things to different people AND it’s a complicated landscape which can be difficult for companies to navigate, so Invest NI committed to increasing awareness of the various types of innovation support offered within Northern Ireland, and the benefits they can bring to local businesses.

The Approach

Together with Invest NI we developed a creative strategy and subsequent innovation brand and programme identity which was supported by an awareness campaign, to not only help deepen innovation capacity, capability and activity amongst locally owned SME’s and current non-exporters, but to encourage a culture of open dialogue. Our research had shown that whilst innovation was very much still alive and kicking in Northern Ireland, the businesses involved weren’t vocalising it.

Audience segmentation had identified three distinct groups, depending where an individual is on their own innovation journey: Thinking (about innovating), Beginning (to innovate), and Keep (innovating). This was supported by a fourth “general awareness” group. This segmentation allowed us to tailor the messaging towards each audience, with specific content created for each innovation level and journey segment. This approach not only informed our thinking for the campaign but also towards the website content and structure.


The vision behind all of this is for every business to feel supported regardless of how innovative they are and to also feel equipped to innovate further.

The Execution

We developed a full suite of marketing and communications materials for the Innovate NI programme, which adopted bright colour, bold typography and engaging imagery to give an eye catching and dynamic look and feel, beginning with the brand identity and carrying right through to new social media channels and a dedicated website.


This website was not only a platform for promoting innovation and its benefits, but also to aid users on their innovation journeys through various support channels and by establishing their innovation level via the use of the innovation checklist. and its associated social media channels went live first, followed by Phase 1 of the Innovation Awareness Campaign. This integrated communications campaign comprised a range of media, including radio and podcasts, display, print and PPC advertising, all with the aim of driving traffic to the website.