MATRIX, the Northern Ireland Science Industry Panel, has welcomed the UK Industrial Strategy White Paper published last Monday which outlines plans to drive growth, build on the strengths of places, boost skills, improve productivity, boost people’s earning power and upgrade infrastructure.
The Strategy includes flagship Sector Deal agreements with the automotive, construction, Life Sciences and Artificial Intelligence (AI) sectors, with further deals for the Creative Industries and industrial digitisation also nearing completion. Recent MATRIX studies have identified that Northern Ireland already has considerable strength in all these sectors, meaning the region is well placed to benefit from the proposals.
It also aims to raise the total research and development (R&D) investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 (the latest figure for 2015 is 1.68% of GDP), increase the rate of the R&D expenditure credit for large businesses from 11% to 12% from 1 January 2018 and invest £725m in new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund programmes to help drive innovation.
The Strategy also has a strong focus on place, concentrating on Local Industrial Strategies that build on local strengths and deliver on economic opportunities and the creation of a new Transforming Cities Fund.
The MATRIX panel held a dinner for Professor Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive Designate of UK Research & Innovation, on the day of the launch to discuss the opportunities for Northern Ireland industry.
Professor Rob Hardeman MBE, MATRIX Chair, said of the strategy “The focus on increasing investment in R&D is very welcome and reflects MATRIX’s findings across many of our studies that R&D investment drives economic growth.
“We also support the emphasis on ‘place’ – Northern Ireland’s strengths in sectors such as Life & Health Sciences, Digital ICT and Advanced Manufacturing, Materials & Engineering need to be supported in a way that reflects Northern Ireland’s unique business landscape.”