Invest Northern Ireland is building on its recent involvement in the Business Summit in Washington by undertaking an investment campaign this week in Asia Pacific. The team, led by the Chairman Professor Fabian Monds and Chief Executive Leslie Morrison, includes Leslie Ross, Managing Director, Business International. It has a focus on technology and includes key representatives from Queen’s University and the University of Ulster.

The campaign, in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, underlines the importance placed by the economic development agency on proactively selling Northern Ireland as a location in which investors can operate effectively and profitably. Existing companies in Northern Ireland from Asia Pacific will also be a feature of the campaign.

Invest NI is being supported by Professor John McCanny, Queen’s University and Professor Jim McLaughlin, University of Ulster. Their participation in the visit reflects Northern Ireland’s position at the leading edge of electronics technology, and as a centre of excellence in related areas of advanced research and design.

Fabian Monds, Chairman of Invest Northern Ireland, said: “Invest NI is working to ensure that Northern Ireland is positioned to benefit from the expected upturn in investment when economies in Asia Pacific and other target markets come out of recession. This campaign and our support for recent initiatives such as the business summit in Washington are examples of our commitment to promote Northern Ireland overseas and increase the level of inward investment and technology transfer.

“We have much to offer. Our economy is the fastest growing in the United Kingdom and has been consistently so for the past ten years. In the five years to December 2001 our manufacturing productivity increased by 27.7% compared with 14.5% in the UK as a whole. Our workforce is young, well educated and IT literate and we can offer companies easy access to university expertise and facilities. “

During the visits the delegation will meet with high-level contacts in some of the most significant investors in Northern Ireland, including Fujitsu, Daewoo, Humax, Acer and the Ritek Corporation. They will also meet with key government officials and representatives of centres of excellence at universities.

Leslie Morrison, Chief Executive, Invest NI acknowledges that the competition for investment has increased and will continue to intensify. He sees the role of Invest NI as ensuring that Northern Ireland is well placed to cater for the needs of companies from around the world, including many from Asia which have invested or might potentially invest in Northern Ireland.

He said: “The collapse in equity markets around the world has had a profound impact on investment decisions. We in Invest NI recognise that we have to continue to be very proactive in selling the very real benefits to potential investors of locating in Northern Ireland. These benefits include our commitment to work closely with our universities to develop and harness new ideas and innovative thinking, particularly in biotechnology, software, telecommunications and financial services and to support incubation facilities to enable university spin-outs.

“The commercial application of research and development is a crucial factor in our future prosperity. We consider university and business linkages between Northern Ireland and Japan, Korea and Taiwan to be a key element of our sales and marketing activity in Asia Pacific.

“The campaign will raise Northern Ireland’s profile in Asia particularly in the area of technological expertise and we hope will lead to some real and focussed possibilities for research and development collaboration as well as repositioning Northern Ireland for new inward investment.”