North/South Ministerial Council: Trade and Business Development

Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:15 am on 15th December 2020.

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Photo of Diane Dodds Diane Dodds DUP 11:15 am, 15th December 2020

I am not going to bite at the last remark, you will be happy to know.

Research and development and innovation for Northern Ireland firms are really important elements of how we build the economy. I have some brilliant examples of innovation and creativity by Northern Ireland firms, even during the COVID pandemic, such as how they linked up with our universities to produce goods that go to market in the current situation. Innovation and research and development are therefore the way forward. They will build the economy of the future, which is very important.

The United Kingdom would be wise to become a partner in Horizon 2020 and its successor programmes if it can prove that it is value for money for it to do so. Horizon 2020 and its forerunner, FP7, are successful programmes, but they are focused on very large businesses, and that has been one of their downfalls. One of the successes of FP7 was that one of its greatest benefactors was Israel, which, the last time that I looked, was not in the European Union. That kind of research, collaboration and buy-in to the programme is perfectly possible and feasible, and our Government have said that it is something that they would like to do.

One of the other programmes that we are supporting is the US-Ireland R&D Partnership. The Member will probably have noticed the number of COVID-related joint research funding applications that we submitted yesterday. As I said in my statement, COVID knows no barriers, so, in our search for solutions, we should not either.