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COVID-19 Support for Business

The council recognises that businesses are currently facing unprecedented challenges and uncertainties as a result of the economic impact that COVID-19 is creating across businesses and homes. 

Some of our programmes are continuing to operate during this time.

Ards and North Down Borough Council is continuing to support the local economy and businesses in the Borough through continued delivery of its business activities and engagement.

All council buildings are currently closed to the public, including Signal Centre, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite this the Council continues to provide key business support through it's programmes.

Some programmes are continuing as normal and will be delivered remotely and online ensuring businesses can access and complete programmes safely under the Public Health Agency guidelines.

Business Support Programmes written on White Background


  • SHINE Programme

    The Shine Programme is the Council’s principal business support and growth programme. The programme is continuing to deliver and provide  mentoring support and specialist business advice to help businesses to navigate through the current COVID—19 crisis.

  • The Digital Growth Programme

    Supporting the development of existing and new digital skills and digital aspects of business from all sectors to achieve growth

  • Go For It - Create your business plan

    So you have a great idea and are thinking of starting a business? Don’t just wing it. Create a business plan – it’s your roadmap to business success.



There are a variety of business support webinars available to help you understand schemes and better prepare your business during this time.

Online training and support on white background


BT Small Business Support Scheme

BT have launched their Small Business Support scheme; introducing a range of new measures to help small business boost their connectivity, cash flow and confidence. Through this scheme BT is:

  • helping small businesses fund the cost of an ultrafast business connection 
  • launching bursaries for UK tech start - ups 
  • helping small businesses go cashless

Find out more about BT Small Business Support Scheme

Tourism NI: Tourism Industry Scheme

Tourism Northern Ireland has announced the launch of the Website Development Programme 2020-21. The programme will assist tourism providers to market and sell their experiences through improved web provision given the market pressures within the post COVID environment. It will provide guidance to experience providers to enhance their website and provide financial assistance for necessary improvements thereto, including search engine optimisation, provision of the right content, and the use of the right tactics to capture sales.

Find out more about the Tourism NI Industry Scheme

Enterprise Nation

Enterprise Nation, supported by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, is offering free advice to small and medium enterprises to help them recover from Coronavirus and the impact it has had on their business. Enterprise Nation is providing free access to the platform, until 31st December 2020, to enable small and medium sized businesses in need of advice and support to connect with business advisers offering to help.

Find out more about the Enterprise Nation Programme

Queen's University: ADAPT4GROWTH

Queen's University has announced their ADAPT4GROWTH Business Support Programme. The programme offers businesses dedicated support to help realign their business models in the face of market disruption.

This free-to-attend 12-week programme will allow NI companies be better placed to anchor employment levels, maintain a competitive position in global markets and increase productivity during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Find out more about ADAPT4GROWTH

SERC Skills Intervention Programme

SERC is recruiting students for a fully funded intensive programme aimed at re-skilling furloughed employees or those whose current roles may be at risk of redundancy.

The Skills Intervention Programme, funded by the Department for Economy, offers the opportunity for candidates to gain a recognised qualification in three pathways, Health and Social Care, Digital Skills and Leadership and Management. The courses, set to commence from 29 June for 8 weeks, are subject to specific eligibility criteria.

Find out more about the SERC Skills Intervention Programme

Barclays Back to Business

Barclays have developed a 'Back to Business' programme in partnership with University of Cambridge, Judge Business School. From your start date, you’ll have two months to access and complete the Back to Business Programme, which should take 15 hours of your time. The programme will help you assess the health of your business and identify how to sustain or grow it during a crisis, with scenarios you can use to see how the pandemic might affect your business in future. The key output will be a resilience plan for your business, which you can continue to test and evolve over time.

Find out more about the Back to Business Programme

NI Direct: Online Training Support

NI Direct have put together a list of online training support which includes courses on digital skills, employability and a links to other online resources.

View online courses

BT Skills for Tomorrow

BT have launched their Skills for Tomorrow initiative to help families, businesses and communities across the UK. They have produced a range of webinars for businesses and also a range of courses are available for business owners and employees to learn new skills.

Go to BT Skills for Tomorrow

COVID-19 Response: Cash Flow Management

Normally, a positive cash flow is a key indicator of financial health, however, at present, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even the most successful businesses are experiencing extraordinary cash flow pressures. Invest NI have put together this tutorial for businesses.

Go to Cash Flow tutorial

The Skills Toolkit

The Skills Toolkit is made up of free online courses, tools and resources to help you improve your digital and numeracy skills. 

There are courses that will give you an introduction to getting confident online to more advanced digital skills for use in the workplace. 

View all Skills Toolkit courses

Skills Focus

Skills Focus is a skills development programme funded by the Department for the Economy (DfE) and delivered across Northern Ireland by the six further education colleges. It aims to help local businesses upskill their staff. The Skills Focus programme is available for SMEs with fewer than 250 employees. Businesses can now access free upskilling for their staff, including those who are furloughed.

Find out more about Skills Focus


PWC have produced a podcast series on COVID-19 and the effects it is having on business. The podcasts cover a range of topics including: navigating lockdown, supply chain management and leading through a crisis.

Find out more about the Podcasts

Coronavirus Business Advice and Support

The AND business team is here to support you.

For further information or if you need help and advice, please get in touch via email or telephone 028 9147 3788