Committee Inquiry into Research and Development

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 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.

-Ends-

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