Northern Ireland’s knowledge economy is one of the fastest growing in the UK
The newly published 2018 Knowledge Economy Report has set out the huge difference the knowledge economy could make to the overall economy by 2030.
For a fifth consecutive year NI is the 2nd fastest growing of the UK regions, but growth is slowing. The report highlights skills, increasing innovation within business and creating an environment in which we can support start-ups to get to market and accelerate growth as the main factors that must be addressed.
The research shows that the aspirations for the knowledge economy are achieved, there would be circa 80,000 jobs and £3.2bn GVA added to the NI economy this would require an additional 2,500 skilled people coming into NI.
How do we make NI the place to be, a beacon for world class talent and investment? We must make NI a place that attracts word class researchers, engineers, entrepreneurial talent and investment at the same time as helping create opportunities that are accessible locally across a range of skills levels.
The findings from the 2018 Knowledge Economy Report, which is sponsored by Bank of Ireland and independently produced by Ulster University Economic Policy Centre, shows that there is resilience within the knowledge economy particularly with regard to a lower reliance on the EU for sales compared to other sectors. With only 20% of sales into the EU (excluding UK) the KE can help to boost the economy.
Commenting on this year’s report Ian Sheppard, Managing Director Northern Ireland at Bank of Ireland UK said: “In highlighting the significant potential contribution that the Knowledge Economy can deliver for Northern Ireland, the report heightens the need for a fresh injection of impetus by all stakeholders. The immediate challenges are clear but together with this potential and the rich and valuable research data from the report on the progress made in two thirds of indicators and the increase in GVA by 6.3% , an engine of economic growth, offers us the opportunity to refocus on the fundamentals of what drives a competitive economy.”
Steve Orr, CEO Catalyst Inc. speaking at the launch of the report said ‘Our challenge is how to support entrepreneurs to scale beyond that threshold and accelerate their growth. The value of investment in the Republic of Ireland is 50 times that in Northern Ireland. What can we learn from our neighbours? Alan Foreman, CEO of B-Secur, based at Catalyst, has a vision to be the first tech unicorn (privately held start-up company valued at over $1bn) in Northern Ireland – that is the ambition and belief that we all need to have”.
The foundations of our Knowledge Economy have already been laid. It is time for us to prioritise what we excel at, those areas where we can again lead the world, and use that focus to scale up at an unprecedented level.