2014 Knowledge Economy Index released: NI 2nd fastest growing region

2014 Knowledge Economy Index
Ian Sheppard, Bank of Ireland UK’s Head of Business & Corporate Banking NI with Steve Orr, Director of NISP CONNECT at the Launch of the KEI 2014 Report

The 2014 Knowledge Economy Index, commissioned by NISP CONNECT and sponsored by Bank of Ireland UK, has revealed that the North East of England and Northern Ireland are the fastest growing regions in the UK, while London and the South East continue to be the largest overall.

Produced by the Northern Ireland Centre for Economic Policy at the University of Ulster in conjunction with Oxford Economics, the report analyses the published data on 21 indicators including employment, salaries, venture capital investment, research and development; start-ups, PHDs and patent registrations that shows the growth in the North East and Northern Ireland significantly ahead of the next two regions, the West Midlands and Scotland.

The NI Knowledge Economy has grown by more than 33% in the last five years with performance driven in particular by Research and Development, Investment and Innovation at a time when economic conditions have been the most challenging.

At the publication of the KEI Report today Steve Orr, Director of NISP CONNECT proposed that in support of the recently published DETI Innovation Strategy an ‘Innovation into Action’ business group be established to work in collaboration with Invest NI and DETI on tangible actions that will support the competitive development of the Knowledge Economy in Northern Ireland.

The best option for global export growth is in knowledge economy based companies”, explained Steve Orr but he went on to caution that while the Report will naturally give an enormous confidence boost to the two fastest growing regions we cannot afford to be complacent.

It is critical that the knowledge economy business sector throughout Northern Ireland supports the Innovation Strategy and feeds back to our political representatives the kinds of policies and actions they can take to support Northern Ireland innovation on a global scale. We cannot afford to be inward looking if we want to grow more world class companies and build for the future with the amazing talent we have in this country.”

As a leading figure in the local business community, Ian Sheppard, Bank of Ireland UK’s Head of Business & Corporate Banking NI emphasised that support for innovation that is world leading and will drive exports, is essential to growing the Northern Ireland economy.

Northern Ireland may be a small region in a massive global marketplace but we do punch above our weight with indigenous companies such as Almac, Randox, Andor Technologies, Schrader Electronics and Wrightbus. The challenge is that we need more companies like these.

Bank of Ireland UK welcomes the Knowledge Economy Report as providing data to inform and identify those areas where further support could deliver significant incremental growth. It is encouraging to see that we are one of the fastest growing regions but there is a long way to go if we are to achieve our 2030 targets. By informing the key stakeholders in the economy the report, alongside recent publications such as the Innovate Strategy from DETI, will help build upon the growing collaborative approach to this sector. Bank of Ireland UK is committed to playing its part.”

Looking to the future Steve Orr is optimistic for the competitiveness of Northern Ireland. “The really exciting prospect is that we created 295 innovative new companies this year, all of which have international aspirations. Our start-up scene is thriving with names such as Brewbot, RepKnight and Solaform achieving international funding and recognition. That is the future for peace and prosperity.”

2014 Knowledge Economy Index

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