Invest Northern Ireland has welcomed today’s publication of the Northern Ireland Audit Office Report into the performance of the organisation and the recognition of the strong performance improvements which have been delivered over the past three years.
The report recognises that Invest NI operates in a challenging environment and that performance over the period of the review has shown steady progress measured against the targets it has set, including the promotion of over 42,600 new jobs, the safeguarding of over 19,400 jobs and total planned investment of £5.5 billion in the Northern Ireland economy.
Commenting on the publication of the report, Invest NI Chief Executive, Alastair Hamilton, said: “This report is a valuable addition to taking forward the debate on how we, as a small sub-regional economy, can best deliver the support which enables our private sector to grow.
“In particular, it recognises that over the period of our last Corporate Plan, Invest NI exceeded all of its targets, many by a considerable margin, in a period when targets were more challenging and economic conditions much less favourable.
“As a result of our strong focus on encouraging more businesses to become R&D active, investment by companies is now at record levels and we have effectively eliminated the gap in business R&D expenditure between ourselves and the rest of the UK.
“The report also recognises that our focus on securing high quality job creation, whether from inward investors or from local businesses, is delivering results. Over the duration of our last Corporate Plan nearly 75% of the new jobs resulting from inward investment will have salaries above the private sector average.
“The report vindicates the approach we have taken through our `Transform’ strategic change management programme, following the Barnett report, and acknowledges the significant progress made to date to improve responsiveness to customers and ensure delivery of support which is relevant, and available, to many more businesses.
“Of the key recommendations relating to Invest NI, the report acknowledges that, up to the end of March 2011, seven had been successfully delivered. These include rationalising our programmes, focusing on export-led growth, securing new delegated financial limits, accelerating casework processing times and making many more of our services available to a much wider business base, such as through our current Boosting Business campaign. In addition, since that date, Invest NI has completed on a further two, meaning that we have delivered on all of the recommendations within our control.”
Alastair Hamilton concluded, “Many of the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report are already being implemented and will be incorporated into our next Corporate Plan which will set out clearly the actions we will take over the period of the next Programme for Government to grow innovation, exports, productivity and employment and support wealth creation throughout Northern Ireland.”