Place 10x - 2023/24 actions and interim sub-regions

DfE will develop a Sub-Regional Economic Plan with measurable targets. This plan will be co-produced with councils and their partners to refine their economic priorities and proposition.

2023/24 actions

It will do this within existing structures such as the Community Planning Partnerships and taking advice from SOLACE NI Economic Recovery Group. The outcomes and targets will link to 10X objectives to allow development of targeted place-based interventions to lessen disparities. This will be completed by September 2024.

Policy principles and a toolkit will be developed for DfE and partner organisations to evaluate their place-based response. Awareness raising and training for staff will be undertaken by March 2024.

Metrics will be confirmed and a Place10X dataset will be developed by January 2024.

As an interim approach to allow the immediate design and implementation of place-based initiatives, the Invest NI Regional Office structure will be used to determine the sub-regional boundaries. During the development of the Sub-Regional Economic Plan this will be reviewed with councils and final sub-regional geographic boundaries will be agreed by August 2024.

Work is already underway to embed a place-based focus in programmes:

  • Ambition to Grow, an Invest NI fund designed specifically to help micro, small, and medium sized local enterprises to create jobs and grow exports, has staff on the ground working to increase sub-regional participation
  • Scaling the Edge, an Innovate UK programme that supports early-stage SMEs plan and target market opportunities, has an internal target with DfE to encourage 60% of applications outside Belfast (the first two cohorts resulted in 66%)
  • an industrial land and property project is proceeding to co-produce a pilot with local councils to address sub-regional challenges and inequalities.

DfE is developing new place-based apprenticeship programme proposals that will ensure people living in areas of deprivation are aware of, have access to, and successfully undertake apprenticeships, and encourage employers to diversify their hiring approach to foster talent on their doorstep.

There are several proposals under consideration as part of the philanthropic package developed around the visit of the Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs. One example is embedding staff aligned to each labour market partnership to facilitate SMEs engaging with the apprenticeship system, and to work on the ground with marginalised communities to promote apprenticeships to those who don’t traditionally access them in large numbers.

The draft tourism strategy reflects the ambition to widen the appeal of sub-regional locations to visitors, to strengthen the domestic market, and to enrich the lives of residents all year round.

The development of tech clusters can embed local expertise and skills, lessening the need for relocation to find better paying jobs. A consultation underway is asking if it would be beneficial for sub-regions to focus on specific technologies.

There are many other opportunities in the DfE remit to develop place-based interventions that support the 10X Vision. Some teams already offer local services that could be expanded or refocused. Some regional level policies have the potential to become more targeted to tackle economic disparities and inequalities. Examining why these exist across the worst and best performing areas will allow a critical evaluation of which initiatives should be prioritised. Conditionality of funding and regulatory change are other levers that could be used.

Teams across the department are considering these areas and more to develop new projects and pivoting current work towards that will feed into the Sub-Regional Economic Plan in 2024.

Interim sub-regions

DfE will lead an exercise to develop local economic propositions in partnership with Invest NI and councils to identify the disparities that need addressed, the economic priorities of each council area, and to develop unique propositions for these sub-regions to attract foreign investment. These will inform the final sub-regional model and set targets for DfE and its partners.

Using the Invest NI Regional Office structure as an interim measure to define boundaries will allow the development of policy initiatives and delivery programmes now that can tackle local and sub-regional disparities and inequalities rather than wait until this exercise is completed in September 2024.


Invest NI Regional Office structure

A map of Northern Ireland which displays Invest Northern Ireland’s regional office structure.


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