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Our Research

Tracking progress. Shaping policy. Powering prosperity.

Knowledge Economy 2018 Report

The 2018 Knowledge Report has set out the huge difference the knowledge economy could make to the overall economy by 2030. For a fifth consecutive year NI is the second fastest growing of the UK regions, but growth is slowing.

The report highlights skills, increasing innovation within business and creating an environment in which we can support start-ups to get to market and accelerate growth as the main factors that must be addressed.

The research shows that if we achieved the aspirations for the knowledge economy, there would be circa 80,000 jobs and £3.2bn GVA added to our economy. This will require an additional 2,500 skilled people coming into NI and will only be possible if we focus our efforts and our collective responsibility to act now.

“We must make NI a place that attracts world class researchers, engineers, entrepreneurial talent and investment at the same time as helping create opportunities that are accessible locally across a range of skills levels. We have seen government, academia and business successfully collaborating to bring in investment through the City Deals. Now is the time for our politicians to step up and ensure that whatever the final outcome of the UK exit from the EU, NI is not disadvantaged. This includes an immigration policy that works for us alongside proper and sustainable funding of our universities.” – Steve Orr, CEO Catalyst


Listen to Catalyst’s CEO Steve Orr and Richard Johnston, Lead Researcher, from Ulster University Economic Policy Centre on BBC Radio Ulster here and here.

Knowledge Economy Report Steering Team

Scott Rutherford (Chair) Queen’s University

Tim Brundle Ulster University

David Roberts Invest NI

Alan Bridle Bank of Ireland

Niamh Griffin Bank of Ireland

Roisin Finnegan Deloitte

Lorraine Acheson Innovate UK


The 2018 Knowledge Economy Report is supported by Bank of Ireland UK and independently produced by Ulster University Economic Policy Centre on behalf of Connect at Catalyst Inc.

The Knowledge Economy Index uses key data year-on-year to compare our performance with other regions. It also monitors the availability of capital. The data helps policy makers and trade organisations plan and advocate effectively for sufficient workforce housing, transportation solutions, zoning and availability of resources. The report also serves as a recruiting and retention tool, demonstrating to research, leadership and management talent from around the world that Northern Ireland is a leading centre for innovation.


The NI deal tracker report, produced by Catalyst, is now available for download on this page. The report covers equity investment into Knowledge Economy businesses across Northern Ireland for 2018. This is the 2nd year of the Northern Ireland Deal Tracker report. The figures show a minor dip from £32m in 2017 to £29m this year. This seems to be following a trend that has happened in Ireland and the UK in 2018. Importantly, the investment from outside the region is also at a similar level to that of 2017.

Download the report below.

Download 2017 Report Download 2018 Report