Responding to change is not new. For a business to succeed in any environment it needs to be flexible, resilient and responsive. It is our role at Invest Northern Ireland to provide the right support to help businesses prepare, adapt and build a strong foundation for growth.
Supporting businesses to innovate is central to this ability to adapt to change. Investing in innovation is crucial, not just to business growth but to survival. Studies show a solid link between investment in innovation, and profitability and growth. Be that through developing new products to meet changing customer need, finding new markets to spread risk and grow sales, to reviewing and improving internal processes to strengthen leadership or become more efficient.
Increasing international competitiveness is particularly important for a small, regional economy such as Northern Ireland.
By increasing the number of businesses selling products and services outside Northern Ireland, and attracting more international companies to invest here we are driving our economic growth. This will safeguard the future of our businesses, our economic prosperity and provide employment for generations to come. Supporting the delivery of this is at the very heart of what we do. This is why our 2017-2021 Business Strategy includes initiatives to support the outcome of supporting our customers to increase their total sales by £3.2-£4.2 billion by 2021.
The value of Northern Ireland exports is currently £8.5 billion. The Republic of Ireland and US have been our biggest individual export markets for some time, around 8,000 businesses currently sell products and services in these territories1.
During 2017/18 there were increases in exports to four of our top five destination countries, with the largest increases in exports of goods to the Republic of Ireland and Canada2.
Fact of the week | The Top 5 exports markets for Northern Ireland goods in 2017 accounted for 64% of the total.— Invest NI (@InvestNI) August 9, 2018
(Source: HMRC) pic.twitter.com/SJIhtJKKrx
The Top 100 from the Ulster Business includes a large number of companies that we have worked closely with to support export growth. The increases in NI exports are testament to the commitment of these companies to explore, test and grow into new markets.
Continuing to grow exports is vital for the long-term prosperity of our economy. We offer a wide range of trade support and a strong presence in key export markets to help support this growth. And over the past year we have increased our international presence in 10 new territories, including Hong Kong, Toronto, Johannesburg and Sydney to provide in-market support for Northern Ireland companies investigating export opportunities, or looking to build on existing business, in these markets.
Alastair was writing for Ulster Business Top 100.