Lessons from Northern Ireland

It’s dangerous to comment on economic development elsewhere and draw some learnings for New Brunswick because there are inevitably folks around that have a disparate view.   But at the risk of that, I’ll say that I am reasonably impressed with this summary of economic development efforts in Northern Ireland over the past six years.  A few observations:

1. They spent about 514 pounds per person on ED over six years.  I don’t think this included operating costs – just direct funds to business but I could be wrong.  Anyway that equates to about $930 Canadian dollars.   Multiply that by the NB population and the equivalent spend over six years – directly on company projects would be around $690 million.  I don’t know how much NB spent but it was somewhere far south of $690 million.  They say that leveraged about $2.4 billion (CDN) in private sector investment and created/sustained 28,000 jobs.

2. They spent $515 million (CDN) on R&D (that is the government’s portion of the spending) over six years or about $80 million per year.

3. It’s a blend of local investment and foreign investment attraction and – key – the salary levels were above average. 93% of the jobs were above the average for the country. 

4. Finally – and this is crucial – “Mr Morrison highlighted that the average time taken to process a request for assistance to an offer of support has reduced during the last two years from 43 to 25 days.”  Anybody know how long it takes in New Brunswick?  I have talked with firms that didn’t get a call back within 25 days let alone project approval. 

I like the language used by this guy.  “…the mechanism for Northern Ireland to ‘catch-up’ with other regions of the UK”. 

That should be what it is all about in New Brunswick as well.

9 thoughts on “Lessons from Northern Ireland



    All the French artists get funding to go there and do their gig.

    Why not have the biggest Blogger and Bullshiter at this event?

    I’m going to apply for a grant of $10,000 for I can set up a live Blog from the Congres. I was there in 1994 so why not this year?

    Of course, I’m on Social Assistance so therefore I need money to attend this event.

    I would be setting my blog at the LeBlanc Family Reunion. What a way to promote the Congres with my Blog right from the Acadian area!!!

    You readers will see first hand of what is going on at the Congress. Yeah…I’m certain I’ll get the $10,000 because I already received $15,000 for my pictures.

  2. David, do you have any data on the source of their funding? Looks like at least some comes from the EU.

  3. I did a quick search of their website and can’t tell if EU money is involved but I did find a link to their foreign offices:

    13 foreign offices around the world for the promotion of trade and investment. New Brunswick? None. Atlantic Canada? I think none. Canada does – of course – but ask any of the provincial or local economic development agencies how many leads come from these foreign offices.

  4. Come on, just type in ‘northern ireland’ and ‘funding from eu’.

    Northern Ireland Competitiveness and Employment Programme
    (total budget 614 million euros, 307 million from eu)
    Includes starting six new ‘centres of excellence’ and 250 companies

    European Social Fund Programme
    166 million euros from the EU

    PEACE 3 Programme
    Total budget of 333 million euros, 225 million from EU

    INTERRAG 4A Cross Border Programme
    256 million euros (divided with scotland)/ 192 million from EU

    INTERRAG 4B (no numbers given)

    International Fund
    15 million per year from EU

    All this for an area not much bigger than the province of New Brunswick. THIS is why its dangerous making comparisons-not because some people have disparate views. Can anybody list the programmes between the province/feds?

  5. ” I have talked with firms that didn’t get a call back within 25 days let alone project approval. ”

    I think we may have found the root of the problem. Someone should be on the phone the next day. If I didn’t return my clients’ phone calls within a month, my clientele and business would quickly whither and die.

  6. David, it would be interesting to see also how much of that money went to “boost” their financial cluster, and how much went to truly productive industries and to diversify the economy. Maybe Mikel could help with those numbers too.

  7. Ah ya lazy bastard!:) That’s available at Invest NI’s report, from 2002-2008. The organization claims that 53% of that amount went to local firms, not overseas companies. They helped 500 small firms, while helped initiate close to 18,000 new companies (probably meaning the number of people who walked in the door, not actual financial aid). One quarter of the amount spent went to R&D on business innovation (not sure if that is ‘productive’).

    Large investments, the kind David talks about, went to Randox Laboratories (in vitro diagnostics), the Almac Group (bioinformatics and carry through research), Wrightbus Ltd (low floor buses), and United Dairy Farmers (cytokine technologies and ….just kidding).

    Their ‘services’ are not mentioned, but they SAY that small to medium companies who got aid of any kind had the most growth. Another tidbit, 50% of aid was to companies in disadvantaged areas.

    373M went to ‘financial, software, computer services’ sector.

  8. Thanks Mikel. But I think that I have to either go back to school (and study basic geography again) or read more carefully before I post a comment 🙂 I’ve just noticed that David’s post was about NORTHERN Ireland…

  9. That’s true, but structurally the two are not dissimilar as both Ireland and Northern Ireland (UK) are both members of the EU and both have had similar structural economic ‘projects’ from the EU. I think the MORE important point than what David is saying is that perhaps some people should start talking about a political movement to separate from Canada and join the EU. That at least would bring in a comparison between the two and how they market economic development. They are ‘structurally’ similar-meaning they both give money, but not ALL the money, and they both have specific regional targets based often on population.

    The big problem comes back to David’s point, that the PROVINCE is not ‘getting its ducks in a row’. We know the feds have zero interest, but we don’t know to what extent they ACTIVELY kibosh regional development. Again, its been awhile since I mentioned Donald Savoie’s book about New Brunswick economic development in Kent County (used as an example). In that book he clearly showed that it was the PROVINCE that held back economic initiatives, the local communities were on board, as were the feds. And this was in the days of Frank McKenna, when supposedly EVERYTHING was about business. Savoie’s conclusion: that unless you get ALL three levels of government together, its not going to happen.

    The other thing is the obvious investments in R&D and knowledge based companies. Something New Brunswick has EXTREMELY little investment in.

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