Belt-Tightening Squeezing Innovation

LESS companies in the north are innovating – because they can not afford it.

Twenty-seven per cent of enterprises in Northern Ireland were innovation active in the three-year period from 2008 to 2010, government figures showed.

That is down from 31 per cent in 2006 to 2008 and 37 per cent in 2004 to 2006, and is lower than the equivalent UK figure of 31 per cent.

Cost factors were the most frequently cited significant barrier to innovation among local enterprises, along with the availability of finance. The figures, released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, are drawn from findings in the UK Innovation Survey. It provides information on the extent of business innovation, factors perceived to be limiting innovation and the impact of innovation on businesses, and sampled firms in a range of sectors including production and construction, and distribution and services.

Northern Ireland had the equal second lowest business innovation activity rate of all the UK regions, behind north west England.

Direct costs of innovation (15 per cent) and excessive perceived economic risks (15 per cent) were the next most commonly reported significant barriers to innovation in Northern Ireland.