All posts by NIABT Office

North/South Collaborative Opportunities in EU FP7

l-r, Farha Brahmi (Invest NI), Robin Newton MLA (NIABT Chair), Glyn Roberts (NIABT vice-Chair), Aidan Gough (InterTradeIreland), Joanne Coyle (Invest NI), Simon Grattan (InterTradeIreland)

In November 2011, Aidan Gough and Simon Grattan from InterTradeIreland presented an overview of North/South collaborative opportunities in EU Framework Programme 7. They were joined on a Q & A Panel by Farha Brahmi, Robert Bunn, Joanne Coyle and Lisa O’Reilly, all from Invest NI.

Making Connections And Contacts: NIABT Members Visit Brussels

The Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust recently brought both MLAs and local company representatives for their annual working visit to Brussels and the important EU institutions.

The visit lasted for three days and was designed to help local business leaders find out more about the opportunities for investment and the best way to work with the EU.

The packed agenda began with a welcome and introduction from Caroline Nash, the Managing Director of the Leuven institute for Ireland in Europe -an old friend to the Trust and a regular stop for any NIABT visit. Next on the agenda was a discussion on the way that the EU institutions work and decision making processes -something that the local businesses found helpful as they increasingly look to improve their connections with the EU.

The second day of the intensive programme began with a talk from the Northern Ireland Executive Office’s team on how the Executive’s Office can help businesses and on some of the issues that they are currently dealing with.

An important part of the day was devoted to discussions around funding opportunities and investment strategies that local companies may be able to take advantage of. The talks by Farha Brahmi, EU R&D Liaison Officer and Damian Nicell, Business Development Director Europe both provoked a vigorous discussion about the best way for local companies to increase their presence in Europe.

A talk given by Antony Manchester Councillor for Economics, Finance and Taxation; & Sanu de Lima – First Secretary (Taxation), from the UK Permanent Representation to the EU on the Eurozone crisis and financial tax proposals gave the NIABT members an inside look at some of the very real issues that are concerning all EU Member States.

David Harmon, Member of Cabinet for Commissioner for Research and Innovation and Catriona Ward from Enterprise Ireland rounded off the day with an informative briefing on research and development and the Irish involvement in the main European research programme, Framework 7-a topic that has already featured in the NIABT’s breakfast briefings in Parliament Buildings.

The final day of the programme featured talks by Dawn Howard from the British Agriculture Bureau and Sean McGuire from the CBI on how Northern Ireland business can lobby more effectively. Tim Render from the UK Permanent Representation to the EU then spoke about regional aid and CAP reform–a topic of great interest to those NIABT members involved in agri-business.

The final piece of business was a meeting with Northern Ireland MEPs to network and talk over some of the presentations that the NIABT members had received.

After this intensive programme, the Trust was on its way back to Northern Ireland to digest all the information they received and put in practice some of the suggestions.

For more information on the NIABT Brussels Programme and how you can get involved – please contact Ivor Gibson at

City of Culture Engagement Reception

On 18th October, NIABT Chair Robin Newton MLA opened a Corporate and Community Engagement Reception that the NIABT co-hosted with Culture Company 2013.

Robin Newton MLA (NIABT Chair), Junior Minister Martina Anderson MLA, James Devlin (NIABT Board) and John Rooney (NIABT Board) with representatives from Derry~Londonderry City of Culture 2013

Dinner with the ASEAN Ambassadors

On the 17th October, members of the NIABT met with a delegation of Ambassadors from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN Ambassadors). The group were visiting to establish links with the Northern Ireland Assembly, and were also keen to meet with local business representatives to establish links.

Prof James Haughey (NIABT), John Rooney (NIABT Board), Robin Newton MLA (NIABT Chair), Glyn Roberts (NIABT Vice-Chair) and Gráinne Walsh (NIABT Board) with the ASEAN delegation

Northern Bank Briefing to Business Trust Signals Hope for Recovery

Angela McGowan, Chief Economist with the Northern Bank was the guest speaker at the monthly Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT) breakfast briefing on 11th October.

Focusing on the current economic crisis, Angela provided a recovery update at global, national and local levels. She noted that economic recovery has been hampered by a number of factors including the escalation of the Euro debt crisis and the current political turmoil in the US.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, Angela stressed that Northern Ireland has its own unique selling points such as advanced technology which can allow for remote working, particularly useful for growing the Business Services market. Other opportunities such as Northern Ireland’s expertise in agriculture and its history of innovation and entrepreneurship could also serve to attract foreign investment.

This event was attended by over 40 parliamentary and business members, many of whom took the opportunity to ask pertinent questions in relation to the local economy and what the future holds for local business in Northern Ireland.

(l-r) Mike Nesbitt MLA, Angela McGowan, Robin Newton MLA (NIABT Chair), Joanne Stuart (Board of Trustees)

To find out more about October’s breakfast briefing, why not listen to our audio boo’s with guest speaker Angela McGowan Chief Economist with the Northern Bank, Robin Newton, Chairperson of the NIABT and Joanne Stuart, Director of Attrus Ltd and NIABT Board Member.