Innovation is critical to Northern Ireland's future because it drives economic growth, it Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has said.
The Minister made the claim as she announced a 12 week consultation into a draft innovation strategy. The strategy, produced by the Executive's sub-committee on the economy, explores how to stimulate research and development, innovation and creativity.
The Minister said: "The Northern Ireland Executive has placed innovation at the core of its drive to rebalance the economy.
"Last year, the Executive published an economic strategy that outlines a range of actions designed to increase employment and wealth through building a larger and more export-driven private sector. The draft innovation strategy seeks to expand upon this priority to enable Northern Ireland to be recognised as one of the UK's leading high-growth, knowledge-based regions."
She said companies which innovated were able to increase employment and sales "twice as fast" as those who were not trying out new things.
"This enables firms to stay ahead of competitors and with global economic conditions remaining challenging, the focus on innovation in Northern Ireland is now more important than ever."
In particular, companies needed to build on recent advances in research and development, she said.
A copy of the draft innovation strategy can be found at http://www.detini.gov.uk/innovationstrategyni