Knowledge Economy Report

Tracking progress. Shaping policy. Powering prosperity.

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 2nd 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 take action now.

‘How do we make NI the place to be, a beacon for world class talent and investment?’ asked Steve Orr, CEO Catalyst Inc. ‘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.’ 

Read more here

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

2018 Report

Full Research Findings

Open Data

Launch Event Slide deck

We need the right support in place to encourage and support our talented entrepreneurs to create and grow innovative companies. We need businesses to invest in innovation and workforce re-skilling. And we need government to address the challenges of skills and ensuring UK policies, such as the Immigration Policy, meets the requirements of Northern Ireland. Together, this joined-up, collaborative approach will enable us to do more to prepare our young people, our businesses and indeed our broader community for the future.

Previous Reports


NI Knowledge Economy Report                                                


NI Knowledge Economy Index (2016 Report)                                                          

NI Knowledge Economy Index (Connect commentary) 


NI Knowledge Economy Index (2015 Report)

NI Knowledge Economy Index (2015 Infographic)


NI Knowledge Economy Index (2014 Report) 

NI Knowledge Economy Index (2014 Infographic)


NI Knowledge Economy Index (2013 Report) 

NI Knowledge Economy Index (2013 Infographic)


NI Knowledge Economy Index (Report)


NI Knowledge Economy Index (Baseline Report)

Further Information

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.

Steering Team

Scott Rutherford (Chair)

Queen's University, Belfast

Graham Bailie


Tim Brundle

Ulster University

David Roberts

Invest NI

Alan Bridle

Bank Of Ireland

Niamh Griffin

Bank Of Ireland

Kieran O’Neill


Lorraine Acheson

Innovate UK