‘Innovation key to success’ – Newsletter Northern Ireland

By Richard Sherriff, business correspondent

Dynamic businesses across Northern Ireland will set the agenda for economic success over the next decade, a leading banker in the Prvince has claimed. Henry Elvin, Ulster Bank’s head of business banking, said the ability of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to outhink their global competition was a critical factor in future growth.

Speaking today ahead of the next instalment in the Ulster Bank and Centre for Competitiveness (CforC) programme of “growth seminars” at the Clandeboye Lodge Hotel in Bangor tomorrow, he said many of Northern Ireland’s larger corporate businesses were already competing strongly in global markets and that SMEs must be highly enterprising in order to follow suit.

“The Northern Ireland economy enjoyed a period of prolonged economic growth which was driven to a large extent by government spending and the property boom,” he said. “Something else now needs to drive our economy in the years to come.”

“Larger export-oriented businesses will continue to be important in this regard and any foreign direct investment will be very welcome.

“However, it is the potential of our SMEs and their ability to exploit that potential which offers to be the major economic driver over the next 10 years and beyond.”

SMEs had many role models in dynamic local businesses but needed to discover the kind of innovation and enterprise that have driven the likes of Radox, Brett Martin, Lagan Technologies, APT,FG Wilson and others to global success, he added.

“This means availing of all the advice and help available, getting the right expertise and people behind them, putting in place systems and structures that will support ongoing innovation and being highly determined and ambitious. “Economic conditions are extremely challenging, but that doesn’t mean SMEs should just be waiting for the economy to turn around.”They should be doing everything they can now to take advantage of the opprtunities there are and positioning themselves as strongly as possible to capitalise fully when thing do turn around. I am confident that they can and will do so.”