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FDI and the Northern Irish Economy

FDI and Northern Ireland

Foreign Direct Investment has been identified as a key driver of Northern Ireland’s economic prosperity. The Northern Ireland government is committed to developing a knowledge-based economy and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship.

The agency with responsibility for facilitating FDI into Northern Ireland is Invest Northern Ireland ( It is part of the Department for the Economy and it provides strong government support for business by effectively delivering the Government’s economic development strategies. In recent years, Northern Ireland has become increasingly successful in attracting foreign investment. Multi-national companies including Allen & Overy, Seagate Technology, Fujitsu, Bombardier Aerospace, Microsoft,Citi, Liberty Mutual, the Allstate Corporation and Baker McKenzie LLP have chosen to invest here. The fact that 75% of new investors have chosen to reinvest in Northern Ireland illustrates the success that these companies have enjoyed in Northern Ireland.

Factors that have contributed to this success are:

  • Talent and skills in abundance
  • Competitive operating costs
  • An advanced telecommunications infrastructure
  • Sector/ cluster strengths – particularly in technology and knowledge industries
  • Excellent university/business links
  • Location
  • Strong and dynamic economy
  • Pro-business climate
  • Generous financial assistance and support

Talent & skills
Northern Ireland’s highly educated and skilled English speaking workforce provides a steady stream of fresh talent. According to a recent major survey, Northern Ireland is the best performing education system for primary maths in Europe, and the sixth best in the world. Some 77% of school leavers go to further and higher education. Northern Ireland has one of the youngest populations in Europe and its people have a strong work ethic. Our people are highly committed with labour turnover rates amongst the lowest in Europe. A recent survey also found that Northern Ireland was the happiest place in the UK.

Competitive operating costs
Northern Ireland’s operating costs are highly competitive and among the lowest in the UK and Europe. A wide variety of business facilities are available at highly competitive costs with prime rents among the lowest in the world.

Advanced telecommunications infrastructure
The UK’s impressive support infrastructure ensures excellent service support and a resilient digital network for high-speed voice and data connections throughout the world. Northern Ireland was the first region in Europe to have 100% access to broadband and it currently ranks as the best in the UK for superfast broadband connectivity. Northern Ireland has a high capacity, low-latency transatlantic cable system providing direct connectivity with North America, as well as onward connectivity to Europe and beyond.

Sector/cluster strengths
Northern Ireland is home to world-class clusters in a variety of sectors. In the last few years the technology, financial and professional services sectors have experienced the fastest growth. Northern Ireland is also a base for world-class companies with the aerospace, advanced engineering and manufacturing as well as life and health science sectors.

Excellent University/business links
Northern Ireland’s universities are internationally renowned and have been key drivers in developing the region’s technology and knowledge industries. Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University have globally recognised research centres across a range of disciplines and both have a strong track record in terms of commercialisation of research and in spinning-off successful businesses. Queen’s University Belfast is the UK’s leading university for intellectual property commercialisation.

Northern Ireland operates in the same time-zone, regulatory environment and has a similar culture to the rest of the UK. It is ideally positioned geographically for global firms operating a ‘follow-thesun’ model. London is only an hour away by air, and Dublin is only two hours away by rail or road. Northern Ireland provides a competitive near-shore proposition to Europe and the business and banking community based there are used to conducting business with the Euro due to Northern Ireland’s land border with the Republic of Ireland.

Strong and dynamic economy
The Northern Ireland labour market has performed well in recent years. The unemployment rate currently stands at 5.6% (Jan 2017), above the UK average but below the Republic of Ireland and EU averages.

Pro-business climate
As part of the UK, Northern Ireland benefits from the strength of the UK economy and its low inflation, low interest rate climate. Companies have ready access to a broad range of funding options as well as a developing venture capital market.

Generous financial assistance and support
Northern Ireland offers a highly attractive package of financial incentives, recruitment and training, research and development support tailored to the needs of investing companies. Invest NI works closely in partnership with investors to improve capability and international competitiveness.

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