Posted on Wednesday 30 January 2019 by John Mulgrew

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Northern Ireland is one of the UK’s fastest growing ‘knowledge’ economies – outpacing overall GVA four-fold.

According to the latest Catalyst Inc 2018 Knowledge Economy Report, the sector here – which includes areas such as tech and STEM roles – grew by 6.3% during 2018.

Overall, the ‘knowledge economy’ accounted for 5.9% of output, an increase of 1% point on previous year, while employment has increased by 2% over the year (4.7% of total employment).

The biggest chunk of the sector deals with exports, making up 35% – with £4 of every £5 of sales is outside EU.

The research also says if Northern Ireland “achieved the aspirations for the knowledge economy, there would be circa 80,000 jobs and £3.2bn GVA added to our economy”.

Steve Orr, chief executive of Catalyst Inc, said: “How do we make NI the place to be, a beacon for world class talent and investment?

“We must make NI a place that attracts word class researchers, engineers, entrepreneurial talent and investment at the same time as helping create opportunities that are accessible locally across a range of skills levels.

“We have seen government, academia and business successfully collaborating to bring in investment through the city deals. Now is the time for our politicians to step up and ensure that whatever the final outcome of the UK exit from the EU, NI is not disadvantaged. This includes an immigration policy that works for us alongside proper and sustainable funding of our universities.”

Ian Sheppard, managing director Northern Ireland at Bank of Ireland UK, said: “In highlighting the significant potential contribution that the ‘knowledge economy’ can deliver for Northern Ireland, the report heightens the need for a fresh injection of impetus by all stakeholders.

“The immediate challenges are clear but together with this potential and the rich and valuable research data from the report on the progress made in two thirds of indicators and the increase in GVA by 6.3%, an engine of economic growth, offers us the opportunity to refocus on the fundamentals of what drives a competitive economy.”


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