Insight into importance of innovation

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Global IT giant Fujitsu joined a panel of leading firms and business experts at a major conference in Craigavon this week to stress to small businesses the importance of exploring growth through innovation and research and development (R&D).

Improving the local business environment for SMEs and the importance of small firms working in clusters were on the agenda, with advice available about opportunities for funding to stimulate innovation.

More than 150 delegates from SMEs across Northern Ireland attended the ‘Innovate NI 2014’ event, which was hosted by Craigavon Borough Council in partnership with the Queen’s University NI Technology Centre in the Craigavon Civic and Conference Centre.

Among those joining Fujitsu on the panel was keynote speaker Alistair Fee, Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the European Business School, and representatives from Seagoe Technologies, BioBusiness, International Synergies, Queen’s University and Craigavon Borough Council.

Councillor Mark Baxter, Chair of Development Committee, Craigavon Borough Council, commented: “The Innovate NI 2014 conference provided the very important small business community here in Northern Ireland with a fantastic opportunity to learn from, and interact with, established companies with proven innovation and R&D credentials.

“These are skills which are recognised by Craigavon Borough Council’s business strategy as key drivers for economic growth, employment and social integration, and must be a key focus for all SMEs.

“It’s vital that local authorities play a proactive role in promoting successful entrepreneurship and in creating a conducive business environment for SMEs to fully utilise the support available to maximise their potential.

“Thanks to investment from within and from outside Craigavon, the borough has established itself as one of Northern Ireland’s best performing business regions.

“The conference is a further example of local government and the education sector working in partnership with the private sector to ensure this economic growth continues in the future.”