Barclays Eagle Labs identifies 2022 as a year of growth for business, as founders predict increase in turnover of 37 per cent over the next year

  • Optimism prevails among Northern Irish start-up business founders, as three in five Northern Irish business leaders (57 per cent) expect to hire new staff over the next year to meet growth demands
  • Around half (47 per cent) anticipate an increase in turnover in the next year
  • The growth reflects a continued trend, as payments data revealed small business transactions have risen by nearly two fifths (38 per cent) in comparison to 2019

Entrepreneurs in the UK predict strong business growth of 37 per cent for 20221, as new research from Barclays Eagle Labs highlights support that could help unlock further growth for early stage businesses.

Barclays Eagle Labs, a growing network of business hubs across the UK, found the optimism shared among Northern Irish businesses owners, as 47 per cent of businesses in Northern Ireland anticipate an increase in turnover in the next year, while almost three in five (57 per cent) of businesses in Northern Ireland anticipate hiring more staff.

The predicted growth reflects a continued trend, as payments data revealed increased activity among small businesses, with transactions to SMEs across the UK having risen by nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) beyond pre-pandemic levels2.

And, despite the challenges of the past two years, business owners in Northern Ireland have proven resilient, as 65 per cent of founders would still recommend starting a business to others.

However, business founders also pointed to the additional support they need to unlock their potential, as more than two in five (43 per cent) Northern Irish business owners responded that access to mentor and investor advice would help to grow their business, half (51 per cent) would like help in accessing networks and 43 per cent would benefit from access to growth programmes, such as business accelerators.

Jon Hope, Director of Eagle Labs at Barclays, said: “It’s great to see the optimism and resilience business owners across have shown, despite the challenges faced in the past two years.

“By uncovering how the ambitions of start-up businesses can be better supported, we’re confident that with the right support and advice, and access to networks and mentorship that we know are crucial, UK entrepreneurs will continue to drive innovation and economic success nationwide.”

Case study: Farm Compare

Farm Compare joined the Belfast Eagle Lab at Ormeau Baths in January 2020 and despite the pandemic forcing the temporary closure of the physical site, stayed close to Eagle Labs. They continued to build networks through mentoring opportunities and through Karen’s involvement with the Female Founder network, as well as the Eagle Labs AgriTech Accelerator Programme – a bespoke programme to help businesses in the agriculture technology sector accelerate their growth.

Karen McDonald, Co-founder of Farm Compare, said: “Using the Barclays Eagle Labs co-working space in the Ormeau Baths has given us access to an ecosystem which is one of the best available to start ups, and in particular tech starts ups, here in Northern Ireland.

“Eagle Labs have not only supported our growth plans through our participation on the AgriTech accelerator programme, but as a first time founder, it has driven significant personal development as well, through the Female Founders network and the mentoring sessions. These will both be key to our success as Farm Compare grows in our new market in Great Britain, and beyond.”

To find out more about Barclays Eagle Labs and the network of support available for UK entrepreneurs, visit

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