Northern Ireland holding its own in the investment stakes
Northern Ireland's entrepreneurial landscape has remained stable year-on-year, despite a drop at a national level in the number of companies receiving funding, and the number of high-growth companies in the UK being at an all-time low.
The claim comes in the latest Barclays Entrepreneurs Index, which tracks the UK entrepreneurial lifecycle.
M&A (merger & acquisitions) activity has increased significantly across the UK, with activity involving enterprises up to five years old at a new high of 505 (up from 395 in 2016).
Just over 20 of these deals involved local firms equal to the number in Scotland (21), and far higher than Wales (13), but unsurprisingly falling far behind England (404).
Both venture capital (VC) and private equity funded companies have seen only a slight decrease in number in Northern Ireland since last year’s research, each declining by one.
Currently, there are 20 venture capital (VC) funded companies here, which account for a strong 6.4% share of the UK’s overall VC-funded companies.
This ranks above many other regions, including Yorkshire & the Humber (17), South West (16), Midlands (12), North East (10) and the North West (9).
However, the value of VC investment has dropped by a third, to £2 million, from £3m last year.
As for private equity backed companies, there are also 20, however this is the second-smallest number of any region, eclipsing just the North East (19) but closely tailing the East Midlands (23).
The report showed that over the past year, 36 high-growth enterprises have launched in the province, accounting for a 0.8% share of high-growth companies – the lowest in the UK.
“It is positive to see that despite uncertain political and economic conditions, Northern Ireland’s entrepreneurial landscape remains steady with VC and private equity backed companies on a par with last year’s numbers,” said Jonathan Sloan, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management Northern Ireland, said:
“The significant drop in venture capital investment will create an increasingly difficult environment for entrepreneurs, which is concerning, as the number of high-growth companies in Northern Ireland appears to be lagging behind other regions.”