Northern Irelands High Growth Firms

This collection of reports sets out some of the main findings for private businesses using quantitative methods to analyse high growth firms within the Northern Ireland economy from 1998 onwards and the contribution of these businesses to the NI economy in terms of business turnover and employment over time.

The Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment's Research Agenda 2012 to 2015 identified ‘encouraging business growth’ as a key theme.

In support of this theme, a research project was identified to apply an established OECD definition of High Growth Firms to NI with the aim of identifying the number and characteristics of businesses which underwent exceptional employment or turnover growth over the periods 1998-2001 to 2010-2013. This report was issued in June 2014.

The High Growth Firm research identified a number of additional analytical questions which were subsequently taken forward as Update Bulletins. The publication is also updated annually to include the most recent data.

Latest publication

Bulletin 10 uses the latest IDBR data from September 2019 to provide High Growth figures on businesses for the most recent cohort period between 2016 and 2019, setting these in ocntext with the previously published series of analytics on High Growth and extending the entire period covered from 1998-01 to 2016-19.

The latest results show:

  • the total number of 'in scope' businesses for the latest period (2016-19) was 57,805; 7,575 employed 10 or more staff in the base year and 50,230 employed less than 10 staff in the base year.
  • The number of High Growth businesses employing 10 or more staff in the latest period, 2016-19 (1,040) was up from the previous period 2015-18 (895).
  • the number of High Growth micro businesses employing less than 10 staff in the latest period, 2016-19 (11,755) was less than the previous period 2015-18 (13,145).
  • The High Growth rate for businesses employing 10 or more staff stood at 14 per cent for the latest period.
  • micro businesses employing less than 10 staff as a group and over time, experienced higher and more sustained levels of High Growth rates than larger businesses, however the high growth rate for micro businesses is lower for the current period 24 per cent then the previous period 2015-18 (26 per cent).
  • In 2019 High Growth businesses employing 10 or more staff made up 24 per cent of total turnover for in scope businesses, higher than in 2018 (14 per cent ), with High Growth micro businesses making up 7 per cent of total turnover, lower than in 2018 (11 per cent ).
  • The share of total turnover for in scope businesses accounted for by non-High Growth businesses has risen from 59 per cent in 2009, peaking at 80 per cent in 2013 and has gradually fallen to 69 per cent for 2019.
  • In 2019 most employees (80 per cent ) were employed by non-High Growth businesses.  There has been a fall over time in the proportion of people employed within High Growth firms, this fall is mainly accounted for by the High Growth firms employing 10 or more staff in the base year.

The latest report published on the 4 February 2020 can be accessed:

Previous Bulletins

Previous bulletins are also available:

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