Invest Northern Ireland releases its end of year results today, including the final outturn against its four year business strategy and an overview of additional business support fast-tracked due to COVID.
Speaking about the results, Invest NI CEO, Kevin Holland, said: “2020-21 was the final year of our four year business plan. While the global pandemic significantly disrupted our final year priorities, I am pleased to report we still met four of our five final outturn targets so far, with good progress towards the Research and Development (R&D) investment target1.”
The outturn figures are compiled from KPI data collected from a cohort of over 1,700 businesses which Invest NI works with intensively.
|2017-2021 Business Strategy
|All Sales (£bn)
|External Sales (£bn)
|Export Sales (£bn)
|Increase in Business Expenditure on R&D (£m)
|£160m – £200m
*Refers to the year in which the growth was recorded.
Kevin continued, “Lockdown clearly took its toll on the local, national and global economies with the single year 2020 outturn figures showing a decline on previous years.
“However, even in the midst of the pandemic challenges and EU Exit uncertainties, many NI businesses demonstrated their resilience and ability to respond to last year’s economic challenges.
“We shared expertise and made over 3,000 offers of financial assistance during 2020-21 to support businesses to make strategic investment and growth commitments. These commitments ranged from job creation, investment in R&D or skills, or exports to new markets. Our £106m of support can generate £582m of investment into the local economy.”
In addition the agency provided £5m of co-funding (including £3.7m ERDF) to the 11 councils under the Local Economic Development (LED) initiative of the EU Investment for Growth & Jobs Fund 2014-2020. This will help to deliver eight programmes to support the economic needs of each area, supporting around 8,000 businesses.
“Last year our support measures included our established schemes,” said Kevin, “and also an additional nine, new dedicated COVID recovery schemes, ranging from equity investments to grants for businesses implementing efficiency, productivity and organisational improvements. At the end of the 2020-21 financial year, we had issued offers totalling nearly £6m of support to 443 businesses through these recovery schemes.”
Invest NI also redeployed significant resource to deliver five of the NI Executive emergency recovery schemes to a large number of businesses. At the end of the financial year, we had delivered £100m of emergency financial assistance to over 13,100 applicants.
In addition to financial assistance, the agency also provided free professional advice and guidance to businesses through its nibusinessinfo website, dedicated EU Exit team and business support phone line to any business in Northern Ireland.
“Between COVID and EU Exit we engaged with an additional 14,000 Northern Ireland businesses last year. Our Business Support Team received over 35,500 calls to our 0800 numbers and dealt with almost 11,000 email enquiries over 12 months in 2020-21. This call volume was a 600 percent increase on a standard year, and at its peak the team was responding to c400 calls a day,” he added.
“Like most businesses this past year, Invest NI has had to adapt to a new environment. I am proud that the organisation has been able to continue strategic economic development projects and also deliver additional, much needed, help for businesses to address COVID and EU Exit. The team has worked exceedingly hard to maintain high standards of customer service and provide support for businesses to help grow our economy. We look forward to accelerating this work in the coming year.”