Invest Northern Ireland today launched its 2005-08 Corporate Plan, setting out its strategy for the next three years, which focuses on three key economic drivers: being entrepreneurial, being innovative and being international.
“Our first three years have seen us achieve investment commitments of some £1.5 billion; attract some 30 new inward investment projects from first time international investors including Citigroup, Microsoft, and HML; invest £60 million in R&D establish 18 new Centres of Research Excellence and support the establishment of almost 8,000 new businesses,” said Invest NIChairman, Fabian Monds.
“We intend to build on this success and make Northern Ireland a more entrepreneurial society ensuring future growth and wealth creation.
“A challenge for delivery will be increasing innovation, particularly new product development, a necessary complement to improving cost competitiveness and skill levels. We will continue to build on the strengths of the universities and the Centres of Research Excellence, particularly in nanotechnology, biotechnology and ICT. We will encourage and support competitive businesses to be ambitious in their marketing, sales and business processes.
“As well as continuing to attract high-quality foreign direct investment in those areas which offer most opportunities to Northern Ireland in the medium term, such as ICT and Network Services, including software development, contact centres and shared service centres, we will emphasise boosting trade opportunities and seek to increase strategic business alliances. During our first Corporate Plan period, we have helped over 300 companies become first-time exporters and nearly 700 companies to enter new markets. Northern Ireland’s international connectedness has benefited from the success of the Air Route Development Company in extending direct air access to GB, Europe and the USA.
Chief Executive, Leslie Morrison, added: “In order to maximise our contribution to the Northern Ireland economy, we must focus our resources on those individuals and companies involved in manufacturing or tradable services which have an existing or potential strong international focus. Given our relatively small local economy, companies with high export sales will make the greatest contribution to future economic growth and wealth creation.
“Our Business Development Solutions are practical tools to increase a company’s value added and we will focus them increasingly on ambitious companies where our intervention can make a difference. These will be existing and start-up companies who are eager to grow by developing and selling globally competitive products and services. An important part of the value chain will be our support for commercially viable R&D, both within the corporate and university sectors and for the successful transfer of technology through the application of entrepreneurial skills by local people.
“We will also seek to identify and support high growth start-up businesses with the potential to trade in global markets from an early stage. Generally, such companies are based on value-added products and services, often with a large knowledge content and, frequently, on leading-edge technology,” he added.
“Over the coming weeks we will be engaging with all our stakeholders in a number of ways,” said Fabian Monds. Public consultations will take place in Belfast, Derry, Omagh, Newry and Ballymena to ensure all our stakeholders have the opportunity to shape and contribute to this ambitious and challenging plan.”