Northern Ireland

NI knowledge economy 'second fastest growing in the UK'

Research and development Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The knowledge economy includes software and hi-tech companies

The knowledge economy in Northern Ireland is the second fastest growing in the UK, according to a new report by Catalyst Inc.

It said that companies in the sector account for 30% of our total exports and employ about 40,000 people.

The report also said that 70% of sales come from outside the EU.

That makes the sector "a largely Brexit-proof opportunity to expand our economy".

On a council-by-council basis, Belfast and Londonderry are centres of excellence while Newry and Larne registered strongly.

Steve Orr, a director at Catalyst Inc, said: "Our priority recommendations are to focus on becoming world-class in research and development in specialist clusters of healthcare, cyber security and data analytics as well as advanced engineering."

Richard Johnston, from Ulster University's Economic Policy Centre, said: "The challenge for Northern Ireland going forward is to translate these record levels of activity into more jobs, better wages and higher profits."

The knowledge economy is made up businesses that rely on technology and research and development.

It includes pharmaceuticals, aerospace, software and medical device producers.

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