ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Calls for Evidence

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment has announced that Research & Development (R&D) will be the subject of an inquiry.

The Committee is aware that Northern Ireland has one of the lowest spends on R&D across all measures compared to other regions in the UK. Government expenditure on R&D is the second lowest of all UK regions and Higher Education expenditure on R&D is the lowest of all UK regions by a considerable margin. In relation to EU Framework Programme 7 Northern Ireland uptake is almost half that of the UK average in terms of Gross Value Added and Northern Ireland is amongst the regions of Europe with the lowest proportion of SME take up of funding under the Programme.

Given the current economic situation along with moves to reduce Regional Aid support, the Committee considers it essential that Northern Ireland maximises its potential to access all available opportunities for R&D support for business.

The Committee will examine the how the Northern Ireland economy can be developed by improving our performance in relation to innovation, research and development.

Specifically the Committee will:

  • Examine the current policies, programmes and opportunities available to support innovation, research and development at international, EU, UK, cross-border, Northern Ireland and local government levels;
  • Examine the current policies, procedures and practices being deployed to assist organisations to avail of those opportunities;
  • Compare the assistance provided in Northern Ireland with that provided at regional level in England, in the other devolved administrations, in the Republic of Ireland and in other EU member states;
  • Assess the appropriateness of current policies, procedures and practices in assisting organisations to avail of opportunities for innovation, research and development;
  • Identify actions to be taken by the UK Government, Northern Ireland Executive, DETI, other NI departments, IntertradeIreland, universities, businesses and business support organisations and local councils; and
  • Report to the Assembly with full findings, conclusions and recommendations on how policies, procedures and practices can be improved in order to maximise opportunities to support innovation, research and development for the benefit of the Northern Ireland economy.

The Committee would welcome the views of your organisation to its inquiry by way of written evidence, if possible, by e-mail (in MS Word format) to committee.eti@niassembly.gov.uk.

Specific questions that you may wish to address are:

  1. What opportunities are you aware of at EU, UK, cross-border, Northern Ireland and local government levels for business and academia to become involved in research and development?
  2. How appropriate are the available opportunities for developing the Northern Ireland economy?
  3. What support is available to assist organisations to access opportunities for research and development?
  4. How beneficial is the available support in assisting organisations?
  5. What are the main barriers faced by organisations in accessing opportunities to be involved in research and development?
  6. What can government do at UK, cross-border, Northern Ireland and local level to assist organisations and to improve opportunities for research and development?
  7. What additional or alternative policies or actions could be considered to assist organisations to become involved in research and development?
  8. How can business and academia work to support research and development opportunities?

I attach the guidance to submitting written evidence and would be grateful if you would pass this letter on to the appropriate person in your organisation. I have also included a proforma which you are welcome to use if you feel it would assist. Responses should be sent so as to arrive no later than 16th December 2011.

Responses and any enquiries to:

Jim McManus, Committee Clerk
Room 375, Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw, Stormont
Belfast
BT4 3XX
Tel: 028 9052 1574 

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