Departmental response to the Independent Review of Invest NI

Date published: 31 March 2023

In January 2022, former Minister for the Economy, Gordon Lyons MLA, commissioned an Independent Review of Invest NI.

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An Independent Panel, led by Sir Michael Lyons, was established to conduct the Review. The Independent Panel found that profound change is required within Invest NI and made a suite of recommendations across 17 broad areas.

The Department recognises that fundamental change is required to ensure that Invest NI is strategically aligned with our 10x policy objectives, and that the agency is operationally equipped to deliver outcomes and interventions which will help to transform our economy. It is also acknowledged that the Review presents challenges for DfE and we are determined to act quickly on these.

The Department therefore accepts, in principle, all recommendations emanating from the Independent Review of Invest NI.

Mike Brennan, Permanent Secretary at the Department for the Economy, said:

“I accept the findings and recommendations from the Independent Review of Invest NI.

"The Independent Panel has clearly articulated the need for profound change and outlined a comprehensive range of recommendations to ensure that the agency is aligned to our 10x Vision.

"The scale of the challenge is considerable, and it is therefore important that we take time to develop an Action Plan which will deliver the necessary change and ensure success. I anticipate that our Action Plan will be published in the summer 2023.

"I am determined to ensure that the Department and Invest NI collaborate effectively to deliver this profound and transformational change. To facilitate this, we have established a Steering Group made up of senior officials from the Department, Invest NI Board members and Interim CEO. This Group will oversee and ensure the Action Plan is implemented successfully.”

Next Steps

It is the Department’s ambition to work with Invest NI to develop and implement solutions which comprehensively address each recommendation within the report.  However, there may be very limited occasions where the levers to create change are not within the Department’s control, or do not currently exist1.

Where the Department is precluded from developing or implementing solutions to address recommendations, we will work to address the overarching spirit of the recommendation.

The Department’s immediate priority is to develop a comprehensive and solution-orientated Action Plan which clearly defines the problems identified by the Independent Review, outlines the solutions which will be implemented to effect change, and confirms the metrics through which success will be measured.

The development and implementation of the Action Plan will be a collective endeavour between the Department, Invest NI, and our other key stakeholders and partners. A joint DfE/Invest NI Steering Group has been established to coordinate this important work. It is anticipated that the Action Plan will be published in the summer 2023.

1Without a Programme for Government and a functioning Executive, there are particular challenges around the deliverability of some recommendations. For example, recommendations 12(d) (clarifying the implications of the loss of ERDF funding for Invest NI), 12(e), (assessing the scope for Invest NI to be given three-year budget allocations), and 17(a), (aligning our policy ambitions with future Executive strategies).

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