Press Release

Northern Ireland Lags Behind in Exploiting Vital Research and Development Funding

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Monday, 11 June 2012

Reference: ETI 07/11/12

Northern Ireland must develop better support structures for accessing crucial innovation, research and development opportunities. That’s the message from the Assembly Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, which presented a wide ranging report into developing the Northern Ireland Economy through Innovation, Research and Development (R&D) to the Assembly today.

The report highlights the need for the Executive to focus on co-ordinating and integrating R&D across Government, business and academia and warns that to fail to do so could result in Northern Ireland not being able to compete with its neighbours and competitors.

Committee Chairperson, Alban Maginness, MLA said, “Many of the programmes that are in place for innovation and R&D are quite good but the problem is in the way these programmes are communicated and supported by Government.  We are missing opportunities because our support structures are inadequate.” 

Speaking during an Assembly debate on the Inquiry, he said, “Innovation and R&D have come to the forefront as key drivers for rebuilding and rebalancing the economy. As far as the current delivery structures for R&D are concerned, we are living in the golden age of steam when what we need in reality is a high-speed, high capacity link straight to the heart of Europe and beyond.”

Mr Maginness went on to say:: “The new structures recommended by the Committee represent a holistic approach to supporting innovation and R&D at all levels across Government, business and academia and, if implemented in an integrated and coordinated fashion, can only result, in the long-term, in putting Northern Ireland at the forefront of innovation, research and development.”

As well as focusing on the long term strategy approach required, the Committee is also calling on the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment to implement a number of practical short term measures to improve the uptake of R&D funding.  These include the appointment of a Northern Ireland Chief Scientific Officer and the establishment of a Science Steering Group. 

ENDS

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment today (11.06.12) launched a Report into its Inquiry into Developing the Northern Ireland Economy through Innovation, Research and Development. Pictured from L- r are Dr Norman Apsley Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Science Park, Committee Chairperson Alban Maginness MLA and Dr Paul Beaney Technical Manager at Cherry Drainage Pipes Ltd. Both Dr Apsley and Dr Beaney provided key evidence to the Committee Inquiry which helped to inform the report.

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment today (11.06.12) launched a Report into its Inquiry into Developing the Northern Ireland Economy through Innovation, Research and Development. Pictured from L- r are Dr Norman Apsley Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Science Park, Committee Chairperson Alban Maginness MLA and Dr Paul Beaney Technical Manager at Cherry Drainage Pipes Ltd. Both Dr Apsley and Dr Beaney provided key evidence to the Committee Inquiry which helped to inform the report.


Notes to Editors:

Background

  • The Committee began its inquiry in October 2011 in response to Members’ realisation that Northern Ireland has one of the lowest spends on Research and Development across all measures compared to other regions in the UK.
  • Government expenditure on Research and Development 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 substantial margin.
  • In this report the Committee have identified the barriers faced by organisations here in availing for opportunities for support for innovation, research & development and to bring forward recommendations on how these barriers can be overcome to maximise support for innovation, research & development opportunities for the benefit of the Northern Ireland economy.
  • The full Report on the Committee’s Inquiry into Developing the Northern Ireland Economy through Innovation, Research & Development can be accessed here http://nia1.me/xh.

Committee Membership:

Mr. Alban Maginness (Chairperson)
Mr. Daithi McKay (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr. Stephen Agnew
Mr. Gordon Dunne
Mr. Phil Flanagan
Mr. Paul Frew
Mr. Robin Newton
Mr. Patsy McGlone
Mr. Stephen Moutray
Mrs. Sandra Overend
Ms. Jennifer McCann

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
Email: jim.mcmanus@niassembly.gov.uk

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