“Belfast City Council’s sharp focus on enterprise will help create the new generation of entrepreneurs needed to bring vibrancy and zest to a local economy that will increasingly be driven by knowledge and ideas,” Sir Reg Empey, MLA, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, said today.

Welcoming Belfast Entrepreneurship Week, which runs from 27-31 May, Sir Reg said: “This is an immensely important initiative that will help us nurture talent by exposing more people to the concept of entrepreneurship.

“Enterprise, by definition, is to be ready to embark on new ventures and to be innovative. We see this attitude in many walks of life. What we want is to translate this enterprising skill into business. I believe one of the best ways of making this happen is for people to see the success that others have achieved, by hearing the message from the business owners directly.

“This is a conscious effort on the part of the Council and its partners to boost our pool of entrepreneurs, the talented people who through business start-up and self-employment can inject a new economic dynamism into Northern Ireland.”

The Minister was speaking at the launch of the event, part of a European Commission-backed programme to promote enterprise, in Belfast City Hall. It includes a two-day ‘Open for Business’ showcase of entrepreneurship and a series of activities at local enterprise agencies throughout the city. The initiative is being supported by Invest Northern Ireland.

Said Sir Reg: “Initiatives such as Belfast Entrepreneurship Week fit perfectly the new economic framework being developed by my Department and Invest NI. Economic policy is being reshaped fundamentally to focus greater resources on enterprise, innovation and growth.

“The new Business Birth Rate Strategy being developed by Invest NI will place entrepreneurial activity at the very heart of our economic planning. It will champion the role of entrepreneurs and ensure that all the necessary support mechanisms are integrated, relevant and easily accessible throughout Northern Ireland.”

The Minister said wealth created by entrepreneurs benefited the wider community by providing employment and tax revenues that could be used to improve healthcare, education, roads and other services. In addition, he highlighted the value of creating an enterprising culture, in particular amongst young people.

“The engagement of organisations such as Young Enterprise and Shell LiveWIRE with the local enterprise network in this event is also extremely important because it encourages students to think seriously about a career in business at an early stage of their education,” added Sir Reg.