The Software Alliance welcomes Independent Review of Invest Northern Ireland

Last month brought the publication of the much-anticipated report from the Independent Review of Invest NI. We as the Software Alliance welcome the publication of the report and many of its findings, in particular the acknowledgement of a lack of balance between FDI and local company support.

The report incorporates inputs from a response submitted by the Software Alliance on behalf of the software industry last year, and a subsequent meeting with the Review Panel by the Software Alliance team.

In our engagement with the panel, we expressed concern about the agency’s focus on jobs promoted, not jobs created. Success being measured by new FDI projects with huge job creation numbers disguises the issues faced right across the industry by the shortage of skills and labour.

We called for an updated FDI strategy that accounts for the need to develop new skills for the future economy, and an overall shift towards increased support for indigenous company growth and away from FDI support.

Other concerns we raised on behalf of the industry include the lack of output driven metrics, burdensome processes to access R&D support, and a lack of coordination between Invest NI creating demand for skills and the Departments developing supply.

With our purpose of supporting policy development on behalf of the sector, engaging with the region’s economic development agency is crucial and we are pleased to see our main areas of concern acknowledged in the report.

The panel, Chaired by Sir Michael Lyons and including Dame Rotha Johnston DBE and economist Maureen O’Reilly, believes the balance between FDI and indigenous support is off, and KPIs should be based on productivity, innovation and skills, with an overall focus on outcomes, impact and value.

An extensive and thorough report, it comes with a host of recommendations regarding the structure, operation, priorities and governance of Invest NI. We as the Software Alliance welcome the level of detail delivered in the report and are pleased to see the experiences of the software industry as a whole reflected back in this month’s report following our engagement with the Review Panel.