Invest Northern Ireland’s figures for the year ended 31 March 2011 reveal that, despite the serious challenges facing the local and global economies, the agency exceeded all of its key targets, which will see the local economy benefit from over £600m investment and almost £170m per year in additional wages and salaries.
Performance highlights for 2010/11 include:
£638m investment commitments by both foreign and locally owned businesses supported;
2,816 new jobs secured from 41 inward investment projects, with 81 per cent paying above the Northern Ireland private sector average, including 51 per cent paying at least 25 per cent above the private sector average;
First time international investors included Dow Chemical, Allen & Overy, Mercer, Herbert Smith and Rigney Dolphin;
Follow-on investments announced by Citi, Schrader, Montupet, Cybersource and ATG; First Derivatives, Norbrook, Randox Laboratories, Almac, TG Eakin and Thompson Aero;
Organisations committed to invest £147m in innovation and R&D, including 114 doing so for the first time;
190 companies took their first steps to exporting, with a further 585 existing exporters venturing into new markets;
Key elements of Transform, Invest NI’s programme of strategic change, were delivered.
Welcoming the results, Invest NI Chairman, Stephen Kingon, said: “As a result of this strong performance our 2008-11 Corporate Plan has been fully delivered. Whilst clearly much has been achieved, nevertheless, we cannot afford to be complacent. There is still much more to be done if we are to truly create transformational change within our economy.
“With a private sector which has long been recognised as too small, our overriding aim, within a tightening budgetary environment, must be to continue to deliver the most efficient and effective support to accelerate its development.
“As we move into a new Corporate Plan period, covering the period 2011-15, our focus is therefore likely to remain on stimulating innovation and creativity amongst our business base, supporting the growth of ambitious local companies, and internationalising our economy.
“Achieving this will involve a blended approach of working with companies at the individual level and with those key sectors which offer the greatest growth potential. Our aim is to accelerate the step-change required to create an economy which is underpinned by the knowledge, creativity and ambition of its businesses.”
Invest NI Chief Executive, Alastair Hamilton, added: “These results mark a very positive end to our last Corporate Plan. Against a background of a three-year period that saw the biggest economic challenges in memory, we have not only met all of our key targets, but have also seen both the overall investment commitments by businesses and the jobs promoted by them increase slightly on the previous year and we have continued to substantially overachieve on R&D.
“Our strong selling proposition attracted 41 high calibre inward investments helping to put Northern Ireland firmly on the horizon of potential investors, particularly from those sectors where we see the maximum economic benefit, such as financial and business services, technology and the creative industries. These are increasingly bringing new job opportunities of the highest calibre.
“We also continued to support the growth ambitions of local companies. This was reflected in the fact that 56 per cent of all support offered was to locally owned businesses, covering a range of financial and advisory assistance in areas such as management, leadership and skills development, ICT, supply chain development or in energy, waste and technical areas. Some 32 per cent of all support was offered to locally owned small and medium sized enterprises.
“Encouraging more businesses to embrace innovation or undertake R&D for the first time also yielded strong outcomes, with over 230 businesses doing so in 2010-11 whilst a further 650 local small and medium sized enterprises were offered funding to increase innovation and productivity through the implementation of appropriate ICT.
“Helping businesses to explore and exploit new markets will underpin the internationalisation of our economy. Last year we supported 190 businesses to take part in their first trade mission and a further 585 sought to diversify into new markets. Alongside traditional, mature markets such as the Republic of Ireland, the USA and western Europe, many businesses are looking to emerging markets such as Brazil, Estonia, Latvia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Kurdistan, where last year we organised trade missions for the first time. These trade missions are delivering results, with companies reporting having won contracts worth an estimated £250m as a direct result of their participation.
“Many of our activities, such as our export and business start programmes, Innovation Vouchers, ICT, design and much of our technical and energy related advisory services, have always been available to any business in Northern Ireland, but in 2011/12, we will extend our reach further by rolling out a tiered approach of support across a wider business base than is currently the case. In advance of this we have substantially simplified our range of programmes and services, reducing our 80 programmes to a set of 21 solutions grouped under five themes.
“We are all fully aware of the challenges ahead for public sector budgets and in the coming years some hard choices may need to be made. However, I have no doubt that we can rise to the challenge and make the decisions necessary to allow us continue to use our resources for the maximum benefit of the Northern Ireland economy,” he added.