Innovation key to Northern Ireland's success, says Nesta
Just over a fifth of business leaders said they invested between one to five per cent of their revenue in innovation new products, services and ways of doing things -- in the last financial year.
Over half (56 per cent) of Northern Ireland business leaders invested none or less than one per cent of their business revenue in innovation in the last financial year1, a poll of Northern Ireland business leaders has found. The poll is released ahead of a one-day Innovation in Northern Ireland event to be held on Wednesday (15 May, 10am-2pm), hosted by Nesta, the UK's innovation foundation.
Just over a fifth (22 per cent) of business leaders said they invested between one to five per cent of their revenue in innovation - new products, services and ways of doing things - in the last financial year. But encouragingly, nearly two fifths (39 per cent) said that investing in training, design and research and development should be their businesses' priority over the next ten years.
The survey also showed that public sector contracts are not providing much of an incentive to innovate, with half (50 per cent) of Northern Ireland's business leaders saying these contracts do not encourage businesses to be innovative at all, while a further 22 per cent said they don't encourage them very much.
Nesta's Innovation in Northern Ireland event at Queens University Belfast will celebrate existing innovations in the country and explore opportunities for innovation-led growth.
Topics to be explored in the event include: digital education, hyperlocal media and economic growth. Organisations to be featured include:
- Social Innovation Camp: brings together social entrepreneurs, web developers, designers and other specialists to develop new technologies for social good;
- ArtsEkta: an organisation promoting ethnic arts, culture and heritage in Ireland;
- Farset Labs: a makerspace in Belfast City Centre that provides a hub for creativity, technological innovation and entrepreneurship;
- LOCALi app: part of Nesta's hyperlocal programme, it is a community communication system that feeds the most needed information to the public.
Between 2000 and 2008 innovation delivered 63 per cent of the UK's economic growth2. But with the highest rate of economic inactivity in the UK, Northern Ireland is facing tough challenges3.
The poll showed that the majority of business leaders (62 per cent) think that the Northern Ireland Executive is doing too little to give businesses the confidence to invest in new products, services and ways of working.
Geoff Mulgan, chief executive of Nesta, comments, "There is now abundant evidence that long-term economic growth depends on innovation - firms that invest in innovation tend to grow more, export more and survive downturns better, and the same is true of regions and nations. That's why recent data showing that business investment in innovation has fallen in recent years across the UK doesn't bode well. Today's survey shows that Northern Ireland's businesses need to invest more in the products and services of the future. On its own investment doesn't guarantee success. But lack of investment does tend to guarantee a slide relative to places and firms that do make investment in innovation a priority."
Nesta in Northern Ireland will be held at Riddell Hall, Queen's University Belfast, 10am-2pm. Pre-registration at www.nesta.org.uk/events is essential. For those unable to attend, a recording of the event will be available to watch online next week www.nesta.org.uk/events
Notes to Editor
For media enquires please contact Natalie Hodgson on 020 7438 2614 / 07929800765 or Sarah Reardon on 020 7438 2606. Or email [email protected]
·All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Lucid Talk, on behalf of Nesta. Total sample size was 220 across the Business Leaders sector in Northern Ireland. Fieldwork carried out 3rd-8th May 2013.
·1 18 per cent of business leaders surveyed said they did not invest in innovation at all in the last financial year, while 38 per cent said that they invested less than 1%.
·2 Nesta is the UK's innovation foundation. It defines innovation as 'intangibles': new products, processes and ways as doing things. For further detail see Nesta's Innovation Index, July 2012: http://www.nesta.org.uk/home1/assets/features/innovation_index_2012
·3 'One in four in Northern Ireland is economically inactive, the highest rate in UK' Belfast Telegraph, 19 April 2013 http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/one-in-four-in-northern-ireland-is-economically-inactive-the-highest-rate-in-uk-29204851.html