The NI Investment Summit: Unlocking a world of opportunities for investors
Rob Heron, EY Northern Ireland Managing Partner, speaking at the NI Investment Summit.
This month, through the collaboration of the Department for Business & Trade, Invest Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Office, and with the support of countless business leaders from across Northern Ireland, the region was showcased on the global stage.
200 international investors from countries all around the world were welcomed by three secretaries of state, three UK Government ministers, Invest Northern Ireland’s Interim Chief Executive Mel Chittock and the Head of the Civil Service, Jayne Brady; 18 leading-edge innovators and two world-class universities were on show, 30 expert speakers on stage, addressed by one US Economic Envoy ,one Princess Royal and two Oscar winners – all kicked off by stellar young Northern Irish entrepreneur Emma Stephenson, with the narrative knitted together expertly by BBC World journalist Annita Mc Veigh.
Northern Ireland was definitely living up to its reputation as the ‘world’s most exciting economic zone’. And from the feedback I heard throughout the day, investors were clearly getting the message.
With 36 hours to capture the essence of Northern Ireland as the location of choice for international investment and to give international delegates a truly unforgettable experience - we really packed it all in. And with over 800 media mentions and counting, the world was watching.
The one word repeatedly heard in relation to the summit was ‘buzz’, and whilst some might say over-used, it perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere throughout. From the excitement of exhibitors showing off their cutting-edge innovations, from health tech to aircraft seats, the enthusiasm of existing investors sharing the highlights of their investment journeys, the evident pride of 7-times re-investor Citi in all it has achieved in Northern Ireland through to EY’s ringing endorsement of the region’s investment proposition with its 1,000 job announcement – what’s not to buzz about.
And with the business content punctuated with keynote addresses from UK Government ministers, royalty and US Economic Envoy Joe Kennedy III - Northern Ireland was definitely living up to its reputation as the ‘world’s most exciting economic zone’. And from the feedback I heard throughout the day, investors were clearly getting the message.
Now it is time to convert the buzz into business. I’ve already heard from businesses with black books brimming with connections and opportunities to follow-up on, some even already citing the promise of deals to be done.
Across all the contributions, that message was resoundingly that the talent, agility, inventiveness, resilience and grit of the people are what sets Northern Ireland apart from other investment locations. Add to that Northern Ireland’s unique market access as a result of the Windsor Framework, our cost competitiveness, a supportive business environment, our innovation credentials and our commitment to forge ahead with a 10X Vision, and the proposition is all the more compelling.
So what now? Whilst for the last 6 months, I and team Invest NI have been immersed in curating content and preparing for the 12th and 13th of September, we have never lost sight of the importance of what happens from September 14th onwards. And now it is time to convert the buzz into business. I’ve already heard from businesses with black books brimming with connections and opportunities to follow-up on, some even already citing the promise of deals to be done. Indeed, Northern Ireland’s clear ability to deliver a world-class experience for investors has also stimulated demand for other global events, creating follow-on conference and business tourism opportunities. And in terms of attracting investment, Invest NI’s teams here and around the world will be busy over the coming weeks and months to build on the momentum of the summit; to land follow-up investment visits by new prospective investors on the back of the summit ‘taster’, to clinch the deal with more advanced prospects for whom the summit was a catalyst and to leverage all the endorsements arising from the summit to continue to promote the region around the world.