Press Release

Committee Inquiry into Research and Development

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 10 November 2011

Reference: ETI 05/11/12

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment is to hold an inquiry into Research & Development (R&D).The inquiry will seek to understand what prevents local businesses from investing in R & D and identify what can be done to encourage businesses to invest in R & D.

While recent figures show an increase in spending on R&D [1] , Northern Ireland has one of the lowest spends on R & D compared to other regions in the UK [2] . Government expenditure on R & D is the second lowest of all UK regions and higher education expenditure on research and development is the lowest of all UK regions by a considerable margin [3] .

Committee Chair, Alban Maginness, MLA said: “R & D is important – it allows businesses to grow and expand. The more we put into it the more we stand to gain through developing new and innovative products and services which ultimately lead to commercial success.

“It is absolutely essential that Northern Ireland maximises its potential to access all available opportunities for R&D support for business. R&D projects that result in commercial success provide important opportunities to grow the economy and to significantly increase the number of jobs in the high-value, high-wage sectors such as biosciences, ICT and engineering.

“The Committee recognises that the current structures within the business and higher education sectors in Northern Ireland make it difficult to access support for R&D. Through our inquiry we hope to understand these issues and identify possible solutions.

“At the end of our inquiry we will produce a report which will highlight to the Assembly and the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment how important this issue is and what needs to be done to ensure Northern Ireland does not continue to lag behind the rest of Europe.”

The Committee wants to hear from local businesses about their experiences of developing and getting funding for R&D projects, and from bodies, such as local councils, who have a role to play in developing their local economy. The deadline for writing to the Committee is Friday 16 December. For more information on the Inquiry and for details on how to submit evidence please visit the Committee website.


Notes to Editors:
  • The latest figures for R&D expenditure in Northern Ireland show an increase in total R&D expenditure, however almost 60% of total R&D expenditure is accounted for by only ten companies; locally owned companies account for only 32% of R&D expenditure and expenditure by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has fallen and now represents just 10% of companies involved in R&D.
  • Rebalancing the Northern Ireland Economy; HM Treasury, March 2011 
  • Assembly Research & Information Service Paper: R&D Policy, Barriers and Performance, September 2011 


Committee Membership:

Mr. Alban Maginness (Chairperson)
Mr. Daithi McKay (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr. Stephen Agnew
Mr. Gordon Dunne
Mr. Phil Flanagan
Mr. David McIlveen
Dr. Alasdair McDonnell
Mr. Stephen Moutray
Mr. Mike Nesbitt
Mr. Robin Newton (Inquiry Rapporteur)
Ms. Sue Ramsey

The Clerk to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment is:

Jim McManus
Northern Ireland Assembly
Room 375, Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw, Stormont
Belfast BT4 3XX
Phone: 028 9052 1230

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