A new strategy that aims to substantially increase entrepreneurial activity in Northern Ireland was launched today by Professor Fabian Monds, Chairman of Invest Northern Ireland.

The Accelerating Entrepreneurship strategy, drawn up by Invest NI, seeks to enhance the quality and quantity of business ventures in Northern Ireland in order to create a more vibrant economy.

The three-year strategy will be implemented by Invest NI in partnership with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and other government departments, local authorities, and organisations that provide support for entrepreneurship.

Speaking at the launch Prof Monds said: “An enterprise culture is a prerequisite for building an internationally competitive economy. That’s why entrepreneurship and innovation are at the heart of the economic priorities contained in the Programme for Government for Northern Ireland.

“Today’s formal launch of the Accelerating Entrepreneurship strategy represents a significant step forward in implementing that programme.

“In the evolving knowledge-based environment the entrepreneur has a vital role to play in commercialising the new economic knowledge being produced in local companies, universities and research centres.

“We must therefore build a culture in Northern Ireland that cherishes and celebrates entrepreneurship. This strategy represents the building blocks for the foundation of such a culture – one which values the pursuit of knowledge, encourages smart risk taking, embraces creativity and develops a wider understanding that accelerating entrepreneurship is the key to greater economic prosperity.

The strategy aims to address the root causes of our low level of entrepreneurship, such as fear of failure and taking risk. This means starting early in the education system to engender an appreciation of enterprise, so that career aspirations and horizons are widened.”

The launch of the strategy marks the end of a comprehensive public consultation process, which indicated that there is strong support for the objectives and approaches outlined in the strategy.

Referring to the consultation process Professor Terri Scott, Managing Director of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise at Invest NI, said: ”The widespread and enthusiastic involvement by so many in the shaping of this strategy, shows that ownership of it has moved beyond Invest Northern Ireland to the wider community.

“During our first twelve months, one of Invest NI’s major priorities was the development of this strategy. Now one of the main challenges we face is converting the recommendations contained in the document into action points. This will require an effective partnership embracing business, government, other key stakeholders within our community and, most importantly, the entrepreneurs themselves.”

The Accelerating Entrepreneurship Strategy aims to:

(i)Create a culture and an environment through education and promotional campaigns that support and encourage entrepreneurs.
(ii)Segment businesses into three categories based on the markets in which they will operate and the value they will add to the Northern Ireland economy. The segments are:

· Global Markets
· External Markets
· Local Markets

(iii)Develop clear support mechanisms for each market segment and ensure that businesses can seamlessly progress from one segment to another.
(iv)Use electronic media, to provide accessible world-class levels of support for entrepreneurs.
(v)Ensure support is provided in an integrated and effective way through a partnership of public, private and voluntary sectors.