Aerospace innovation highlights way forward for economic growth

A century of aerospace innovation signals the way forward to achieve sustained economic growth for Northern Ireland.

Hosting a reception in Brussels, to celebrate 100 years of aerospace innovation in Northern Ireland, Economy Minister Nigel Dodds told attendees: “Your investment to innovate, in a competitive global marketplace, is an exemplar to other companies on how to move forward to achieve the economic growth targets set out in the agreed Programme for Government.”

Today’s event, in the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels, commemorates the pioneering role that Northern Ireland has played in the sector and highlights the latest developments in the capability of local aerospace companies.

Minister Dodds said: “Northern Ireland has a proud tradition of aerospace innovation and is home to the world’s first aircraft manufacturer, Short Brothers. Today, the local aerospace sector is buoyant with successful companies such as Bombardier Aerospace, Moyola Precision Engineering and John Huddleston Engineering. The sector continues to see further economic growth in a fiercely competitive world economy with over 8,500 employees across a diverse range of companies and a turnover in excess of £800 million per year.”

The Minister added: “Exports are vital to the continued success of our aerospace industry and this event has provided an excellent opportunity to increase Northern Ireland’s international profile and strengthen relationships with the European administration to help the further development of our economy.”

Commenting on the future of Northern Ireland’s economy the Minister said: “This week the Executive’s Programme for Government identified economic growth as the top priority over the next three years. I have secured a sizeable package in the agreed budget to support projects aimed at stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as supporting research and development. I have secured an additional £14.15 million to further promote innovation.

“We have set challenging targets to increase productivity and boost employment levels through foreign direct investment and increased exports. Invest Northern Ireland aim to promote inward investment projects promising over 6500 new jobs by 2011 with investment commitments of £1.2billion. By 2011, Invest NI intends to have helped 45 new start-up businesses to become exporters outside the UK.

“The US Investment Conference and inward investment visits will be key tools to assist with achieving these targets.

“The conference is a one time opportunity for us to host 40-50 high profile and influential US business representatives and stakeholders. We will intensively showcase the new stable Northern Ireland and demonstrate our hi-tech expertise, strong infrastructure, with 100% broadband coverage and the great lifestyle that we have on offer.

“Government is fully committed to maintaining a stable political environment to develop a high value added, innovative, enterprising and competitive economy, which will lead to greater wealth creation and job opportunities for all sectors.”

The Minister concluded: “Innovation and Reasearch and Development (R&D) are key to developing a globally competitive economy. The ongoing collaboration between our aerospace companies and local universities is leading to the development of cutting edge capabilities and technologies.

“The emphasis on innovation and improving skills, coupled with Invest Northern Ireland’s support for the expansion of indigenous companies and continued efforts to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), will take us forward to compete in an ever challenging global market.”