Northern Ireland has a strong manufacturing heritage. In fact, there is still a higher percentage concentration of manufacturing businesses here than there is in the UK as a whole. During the downturn, manufacturing industry here kept on track better than other UK regions. R&D didn’t fall away and exports, largely speaking, remained strong. So we have a big and vibrant sector with a fascinating range of companies and products and the signs are good.
The 2016 Matrix AMME study represented our most comprehensive report yet on Advanced Manufacturing, Advanced Materials and Advanced Engineering. Building on the 2013 UK Foresight Study – “Future of Manufacturing: a new era of opportunity and challenge for the UK”, the report re-examines the future of advanced manufacturing in Northern Ireland and its importance to the local economy beyond 2016.
Did you know…?
- Since the 2012 recession, the NI manufacturing sector has created 6,500 new jobs – nearly 3 times the UK growth rate.
- NI has AMME focus in Belfast, Craigavon, Derry~Londonderry, Dungannon, North Down and Antrim.
- There are strongly developed sectoral clusters in Aerospace and Polymers and looser groups in several other subsectors.
- During the 2010-12 period 64% of AMME SMEs carried out product/process innovation compared with 54% of all manufacturing and 40% of all industries. For large companies that figure increases to 74% of AMME (compared with 60% of all manufacturing and 48% for all industries).
- AMME businesses are export intensive with 80% of sales occurring outside of NI (79% for all manufacturing, compared with just 34% of all private sector industries). NI total sales of AMME goods in 2014 was £7.2bn – that is 39.6% of all manufacturing sales.
In 2008 the Matrix panel published a report on Advanced Engineering. The Advanced Engineering (Transport) Horizon Panel brought together a number of experts from business and academia with the objective of identifying the means by which Northern Ireland could reclaim its position as a global leader in engineering.
The panel also published an Advanced Materials report in 2008. This report reviewed research in the field of Advanced Materials at an NI, national and international level. Based on current global trends and existing competencies within NI, five focus areas where NI had the potential to make advances that would have high commercial impact were identified. The panel objectives are not simply to augment mainstream advanced materials and engineering themes but to recommend innovative steps where NI could achieve a step change in advanced materials and engineering thinking with the potential to offer significant economic impact.