North may be lifted by UK industrial strategy, says Brokenshire

London plans to provide major funding for R&D projects in areas that suit North

Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire: “Northern Ireland will benefit from the industrial strategy’s removal of barriers to innovation and growth.” Photograph: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

The UK’s new modern industrial strategy could boost the earning power of people and businesses in the North by playing to its “unique strengths”, the Northern Ireland secretary of state has said.

The UK government published details of a White Paper on Monday that contains its masterplan for how Britain can build on its economic strengths and focus on what it believes are the “five foundations of productivity – ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and places”.

Business leaders in the North have welcomed the publication of the strategy which has been in the pipeline for a long time. Ann McGregor, chief executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber), said there was clear potential for the North to benefit as a result of it.

Fostering innovation

Not least because the British government intends to provide “significant” funding for innovative R&D projects in areas where Northern Ireland shines – like healthcare and services – and a number of new policy measures that could benefit the North including a Strength in Places Fund which aims to foster innovation.


As part of the modern industrial strategy, the government has also committed to “flagship sector deal agreements” with key sectors including construction and life sciences, which are crucially important to the local economy.

The secretary of state for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire believes the strategy will create new opportunities for the North.

“Building on the extra £660 million set out for Northern Ireland in the chancellor’s budget, businesses, innovators, people and places throughout Northern Ireland will benefit from the industrial strategy’s removal of barriers to innovation and growth, as well as from its preparation for the opportunities and grand challenges of the coming decades,” he added.

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business