NI powerhouse potential in business enterprise

An international study has found that Northern Ireland has the right mix of quality people, research excellence and communications to become a powerhouse of business enterprise.

This is according to Professor Terri Scott, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise, who was speaking at Invest NI's conference in the Waterfront Hall for business advisers, representatives from the local enterprise network and government departments yesterday.

The Global Enterprise Monitor (GEM) presented its report commissioned by Invest NI to assess entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland as part of a study of 37 countries worldwide. It is the largest global research project on entrepreneurial activity emanating from the province and the first time that Northern Ireland has been included as a separate region.

Commenting on the study, Prof Scott: “Together the reports provide a baseline of where Northern Ireland currently sits in terms of entrepreneurial activity and signposts the challenge facing Invest NI and the wider community as we seek to achieve the higher levels of business start-up that we have targeted as part of our strategy for faster economic growth. These issues will be addressed in a new Business Birth Rate Strategy to be published for consultation by Invest NI in January 2003.

“While Northern Ireland is placed well down the UK and European entrepreneurial league tables, the GEM report in particular shows that this community has immense potential to become a centre of enterprise."

The conference also received a report by the Department of Trade and Industry’s Small Business Service (SBS) on the 'Household Entrepreneurship Survey'. The reports, Prof Scott said, pinpointed major issues that required concerted action by the public and private sectors working alongside Invest NI, which would provide "the essential strategic leadership" in the forthcoming Business Birth Rate Strategy.

The Household Entrepreneurship Survey is part of a UK-wide investigation by the SBS into levels of and attitudes to entrepreneurship. Invest NI liased with the SBS in developing a large sample for Northern Ireland in order to assist in the development of its small business and business birth rate plans.

However, while the survey found that Northern Ireland was positioned at the bottom of the entrepreneurs’ league table alongside the north east of England, it provided an insight into the possible factors impacting on these low levels of enterprise activity. One such factor was found to be fear – of failure, debt and wider issues linked to a lack of confidence, specifically in females, to take the first step towards setting up in business.


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