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Graduate Programme

This programme is currently fully recruited.  Further details on future recruitments will be added in due course.

The Business Solutions Graduate Programme offers specific support and mentoring to graduate entrepreneurs. Whether you are aspiring to start your own business or already in business and ambitious to succeed, the Graduate Programme can offer a tailored package of mentoring to suit your needs.

Graduate entrepreneurs are invited to take part in an initial discussion to identify the development needs of the business and determine how the programme can best offer support. We understand that all businesses are unique, may be at different stages of development and are led by entrepreneurs with very different needs and so our offering is designed with the individual in mind.

Our recommendation can include, although is not limited to:-

  • mentoring in the functional areas of finance, marketing, legal aspects, innovation and IT;
  • individual tutorials in practical areas such as self-assessment, VAT registration, tendering, software packages such as Mail Chimp, Survey Monkey etc
  • guidance in developing business skills such as building business confidence, networking, goal-setting, managing risk and personal effectiveness
  • market research activities such as questionnaires, focus groups, competitor profiling and mystery shopping to establish demand and viability
  • business and financial planning services
  • support to access finance - loans, grants, awards and equity investments
  • incubation and/or virtual office support to launch your business
  • professional and legal advice clinics from local solicitors and banks

The Business Solutions Graduate Programme is offered to both those considering starting a business and those already up and running. Applications will be accepted from graduates of all disciplines and third level institutions with a HND or higher qualification. Graduates must propose to start their business within the Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council area.

Click here to see just some of our local graduate entrepreneurs who have taken part in previous programmes.

Contact Aisling Owens or Patricia McPolin at Lisburn Enterprise Organisation (028 92266 1160) to register your interest or email or for further details.

Local Graduate Businesses Still Flying High

As part of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council’s Graduate into Business Programme, Lisburn Enterprise Organisation is preparing for the ever-popular Dragon’s Den style ‘Fly or Die’ event, which will take place on Friday 17 June, 12noon- 2.00pm, in the Studio Theatre, Lagan Valley Island.

The ‘Fly or Die’ event provides graduate entrepreneurs, who are participating on the Graduate Programme, with the opportunity to pitch to judges in a bid to win £1,000 of funding and also receive specialist mentoring support for their business.

Alderman Allan Ewart, Chairman of the Council’s Development Committee, is hoping for a large audience for the event: “The ‘Fly or Die’ event is always a great occasion.  Not only will one lucky graduate entrepreneurs receive a cash boost to their business but the audience will see first-hand the passion and drive these young people have for their business.  In order to make the event even more successful we would love to see a packed studio theatre to show support for the talent we are home to.  Please make sure and register for this free event by contacting Lisburn Enterprise Organisation.”

As Lisburn Enterprise Organisation prepares for this year’s Fly or Die competition it catches up with previous winners to see how their entrepreneurial idea has developed.  Local graduate ‘Fly or Die’ winners include Samantha Moore, Matthew Nelson, Chloe Dougan and Neil Dalzell; all of which have gone on to build very successful businesses and are still flying high.

Samantha Moore successfully wowed the competition judges with her pitch back in November 2011 to win the lucrative £1000 funding for her silversmith business, which helped her to purchase equipment and attend a trade show. Samantha who was referred to ‘as the most sought after silversmith of her generation’ by the Irish Art Review is now trading seven years and has gone from strength to strength with nearly 80% of her sales being exports.  Samantha initially focused the business on creating stunning silver jewellery pieces along with bespoke items. While she still offers jewellery items such as bespoke wedding rings Samantha has seen the main focus of her business move to handcrafted bespoke items such as drinking tumblers and vessels, brandy bowls and items for churches and gifts such as chalices and candlesticks. Clients would range from collectors, distilleries and family members wishing to purchase a gift for a close relative or friend. With clients from London, Scotland, Scandinavia and America Samantha currently has a nine month waiting list!


Entrepreneur Matthew Nelson is owner of Precious Packaging and former winner of the competition in 2013. Soaring on to new heights since their success in the fly or die competition Precious Packaging has grown into a global leader.  Securing internationally renowned brands such as Adidas, Next, DreamWorks, Michael Kors, Boohoo and the Four Seasons Hotel Group they export worldwide to Singapore, South Korea, France, Amsterdam, and Dubai to name but a few.

Continuous improvement & customer service are at the forefront of their culture. Precious now rank top in the UK on independent review site Trust Pilot - a direct result of the attention to detail and superb commitment displayed by the entire team on a daily basis.

A finely-tuned integrated CRM system has allowed account managers to deal with customers extremely effectively, as well as the introduction of account software to streamline their accounts and reporting.  

Precious Packaging has acquired five new permanent staff members in the last 12 months to manage their expanding customer base. Now a client of Invest NI they are in the process of developing a custom order management process to consolidate their position within the market.

From some of the suggestions put to them by Phillip Bain MD of Shredbank and one of the competition judges in 2013, they undertook a complete re-brand and successfully solidified their new image.


Chloe Dougan is the owner behind new fashion label Chloe Dougan Designs. Since winning the Fly or Die competition in November 2014 just two months after establishing her business Chloe has went on to win the accolade of 2015 Artist and Designer to watch (Culture Northern Ireland); and launched her range into high end boutiques such as Una Rodden Couture, Grainne Maher Fashion Vault of Belfast and Lotus boutique based in Holywood. Chloe has also expanded to Ballymena and participated in the Merchant Hotels Fabulous Fashion Show Teas and has her sights set on expanding into Dublin in the foreseeable future. In addition to launching into boutiques Chloe continues to grow her bespoke garment orders and is building up a client following from some of Northern Ireland’s top business women.


Since winning Fly or Die in May 2015 Neil Dalzell of ND Events has recruited a new member to the team and delivered a very successful year of events for both public sector and corporate clients throughout Northern Ireland. ND Events client base continues to grow from delivering a busy schedule of Christmas events over a six week period for Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council in 2015 attended by several thousand members of the public to business awards ceremonies for Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council during 2016. ND events have also managed the Ulster Tatler awards, the Institute of Hospitality Awards in May 2016, managed events for the Year of Food and Drink 2016, community events for the Strategic Investment Board and organised conferences for companies like Coca Cola and Radiology International from the United States.  Asked if he had any advice for this year’s participants Neil replies, “Definitely Go for It! I didn’t expect to win and it is not as daunting as you think. Be confident in what you say!”

Aisling Owens of Lisburn Enterprise Organisation commented: “We are absolutely delighted with how our previous winners businesses have continued to succeed and grow from winning Fly or Die and we look forward to this year’s competition!” 

Watch this space as the finalists are chosen to make this year’s pitch!

If you would like to attend the event and watch the finalists make their pitch please register your interest with Tracey McDowell at Lisburn Enterprise Organisation by email: or contact Tracey on 028 9266 1160.