New Enterprise Dashboard to Help Policy Makers Understand NI’s Business Landscape

The portal, created and hosted by UUEPC, combines datasets on various facets of business, including number, sector and “business birth rate” in various cities and regions.

Speaking about the need for this dashboard to access data and “better inform”, Ulster University’s senior economist, Dr Karen Bonner, said: “There is a wealth of data commercial, but they are contained in different formats in different government agencies, making it difficult for users to access or understand.

“While economists are very familiar with the data, the creation of this user-friendly dashboard means that other academics and policymakers can now access data that will help them be better informed and make evidence-based policy choices. .

“We will update the dashboard monthly, always adding more metrics to help provide insight into our business demographics.”

Speaking on the value and importance of this initiative, Andrew Webb, Chief Economist at Grant Thornton Ireland, explained: “As economists we use accurate and up-to-date data and indicators and we want to ensure these resources are available to our teams across the island of Ireland, as well as policy makers.

“To realize this ambition, we have committed resources to this project, resulting in a single point of access, beautiful visualizations and the ability to compare various indicators.

“This is the first dashboard of its kind, which will add real value to all of its users and represents a truly significant contribution to effective policy-making.”

Speaking on the origins of the project and the broader political goals of the new “groundbreaking initiative”, FSB NI Political Chairman Alan Lowry continued, “We are very pleased to be partnering with UU and Grant Thornton in this revolutionary initiative. There is a well-known maxim that to manage something, you have to measure it; this dashboard helps policy makers do just that.

Describing previous research which revealed the lack of start-ups in Northern Ireland, Alan added: “Our previous research has shown that Northern Ireland lags considerably behind Scotland, England and the Republic of Ireland in terms of the number of businesses starting up each year.

“During the research, we became aware of the challenges of establishing an accurate picture of the local business landscape, often because ‘legacy systems’ lack usability or accuracy.

“If we want to grow the economy, we need to see more businesses start up; but to put in place the right policies and support measures, we must first be able to measure what we have.

“This economic dashboard has a major role to play in this process and it will further develop to enable comparison of data between different countries using technology to remove the heavy administrative burden. This will help us get closer to the data” by real-time”, which would change the face of reporting and corporate policy-making as we know it today.

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Gillian Martin, UUEPC, Alan Lowry, FSB, Andew Parker, Grant Thorton and Dr Karen Bonner, UUEPC, launch the “first of its kind” business dashboard that aims to help policymakers understand the business landscape of the ‘North Ireland.