01/09/2004

Businesses must be more innovative says economic forum

Local businesses must rise to the innovation challenge to make Northern Ireland more competitive.

That was the clear message emerging from today’s meeting of the Economic Development Forum (EDF) which considered the DETI’s Regional Innovation Strategy and discussed proposals to take the Strategy forward, over the next two years.

Economy Minister, Barry Gardiner, Chairman of the Forum, said: “Innovation in Northern Ireland is a key priority for the Forum. We must develop a more dynamic approach to innovation.

"We must create and commercialise new knowledge, foster enterprise and improve our R&D and skills base to guarantee a more competitive Northern Ireland. Innovation must be embedded into the culture of every organisation through immediate action, supported by long-term planning.”

Bob Barbour, Chief Executive of the Centre for Competitiveness, now based at the Science Park, added: “Innovation and R&D are the means by which Northern Ireland businesses can remain competitive in the future. All firms need to embrace new ideas and exploit them to their full potential.

"Particular emphasis should be placed on promoting innovation among the SME sector, which forms the basis of the local economy. Innovation is more than just R&D – important though that is – and smaller companies must learn that incremental innovation, through their day-to-day product and service delivery processes, is essential to prosper in the modern economic climate.”

At today’s meeting, members also discussed a wide range of issues, including ongoing work to refine the Forum’s medium term strategic priorities framework; DEL research; DEL’s Employability Taskforce; DRD’s Regional Transportation Strategy (RTS) and ongoing Focused Assessment of the Regional Development Strategy (RDS); and received an update from DARD in relation to Common Agricultural Policy Reform.

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