Belfast city centre at sunset

Northern Ireland investment in innovation and skills

Government funding is being allocated to two new projects in Northern Ireland, following the first meeting of the new East-West Council.

The Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland has designed two projects that will focus on improving adult literacy and supporting innovation across business respectively. This will be done thanks to a total of £17.1 million of funding, with the East-West Council being established as part of the paper that was published in January this year – seeing devolution returned to Northern Ireland.

Michael Gove, Levelling Up Secretary, said:

“The restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland has opened up further opportunities for the UK government and the Northern Ireland Executive to work together to improve the lives of people in Northern Ireland.

“These two new initiatives will be funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and demonstrate the way in which we can pool our resources and expertise to maximise impact and target the specific needs of people and businesses in Northern Ireland”

Northern Ireland graphic

The first project, Multiply, will use £5.9 million of investment to address the levels of adult numeracy in Northern Ireland, which are relatively low in comparison to UK and OECD averages. By investing in new, innovative delivery forms, the reach of numeracy provision will be extended, delivering the potential to increase workforce earnings and productivity. As part of the project, 3,650 people will be supported in courses, leading to 1,500 people being granted a maths qualification.

As part of the second project, £11.2 million is being committed to supporting businesses in the manufacturing sector to increase innovation and green growth. Focusing on small and medium sized enterprises, the project will accelerate the take up of innovative technology by providing grants, sector support and networking opportunities for 797 businesses. The aim of this is to deliver improved productivity and engagement within new markets.

Northern Ireland’s Minister for the Economy, Conor Murphy, also commented:

“I welcome this funding of more than £17million which will have a positive impact. Numeracy is a vital skill and the Multiply programme will boost the competence and confidence of over 3,600 adults and in turn enhance their opportunities for further training and employment. In parallel the support for manufacturing, innovation and green growth will see hundreds of businesses benefit from support, delivered through Invest NI which will boost their competitive edge in evolving and emerging sectors.”

Delivery of the new initiatives will begin from April this year.


Image credit: iStock


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