Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Top-flight aerospace firms get a £2m boost

Northern Ireland's burgeoning aerospace industry can expect another shot in the arm from a £2m fund aimed at driving research and development in the sector which is expected to secure 115,000 UK jobs.

It is said to be part of an initiative to help the UK claim a larger stake in the global aerospace sector and boost momentum in the wake of the failed EADS/BAE Systems merger.

It will involve £1bn investment from industry matched by £1bn from government.

"This is an ambitious strategy showing the Government can balance the long view with shorter-term priorities," CBI NI Director Nigel Smyth said. "This commitment... will directly benefit our local aerospace industry in Northern Ireland."

He said the aerospace, defence and security industry here is worth around $1bn (£0.7bn) a year and with the funding for the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), the body which will be in charge of the research and development programme, its potential has been boosted.

"Funding for the creation of a new ATI will consolidate the UK's position as a world leader in aerospace, helping the sector grow further and remain internationally competitive," Mr Smyth said. ADS Group, which represents companies working in the UK aerospace sector, said the investment will underpin 3,000 UK firms. ADS said up to 115,000 jobs could be secured in the industry. "With government and industry working together, we can consolidate the transition to higher-value products and services, such as the advanced composite wings in which we are investing in Belfast, thereby growing our export market and cementing the UK's future economic success," Michael Ryan, vice-president and general manager of Bombardier Aerospace, said.

And it's not just the aerospace sector which will benefit. Mr Clegg said other growth industries will be given R&D support. "In addition, £500m for other key sectors will be a useful first step in supporting some of our local agri-food industry," Nigel Smyth added.

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