Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland young people breaking mould when it comes to starting business

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland's entrepreneurial spark is duller than the rest of the UK, with fewer people claiming they think they have what it takes to start a business, according to a survey.

But the Ulster Bank global entrepreneurship monitor also found that younger adults in Northern Ireland were more likely to be starting their own business than their peers in Scotland and Wales.

The bank operates an entrepreneurship accelerator to encourage the success of start-ups.

The research said there were more male entrepreneurs here than female, with women across the UK more likely than men to say they had started their business to do some good in society.

The research was conducted in Great Britain and Northern Ireland by academics including some from Queen's University Belfast.

It said the entrepreneurial activity rate is highest in Northern Ireland among those aged 25 to 34 (10%).

That was up from a figure of 5.5% in the period 2002-04, and compares to a figure of 9.2% in Scotland and 6.5% in Wales.

And the proportion of people not currently involved in running their own business but who thought that they had the skills to do so was significantly lower in Northern Ireland at 38.9%. That compared to a rate of 48% but there were no significant differences in the fear of failure rates.

The percentage of people saying that there are good opportunities for a start-up in their area in the next six months was recorded at 29.1% in Northern Ireland - slightly below the average of 34.5%, but an increase of almost half (47.8%) in the past five years.

Lynsey Cunningham, Ulster Bank's director of entrepreneurship, said: "Northern Ireland still has a way to go to in creating the entrepreneurial businesses that will drive private sector growth, but there are encouraging signs.

"In our entrepreneur accelerator, I see day and daily the talent and inspiring ideas of these start-up and scale-up businesses and Ulster Bank is committed to supporting more and more entrepreneurs with the practical support, advice and funding that they need to thrive.

"We see that people recognise the importance and value of entrepreneurship.

"However, entrepreneurs need a supportive culture in order to grow and it is vital that all those involved in nurturing and developing early stage and scale-up businesses work together to signpost best practice and the tools they need to grow."

There were more male entrepreneurs than female - though Ulster Bank said that the most recent intake into its accelerator programme was just under 60% female.

Dr Karen Bonner, lecturer in entrepreneurship at Queen's, said: "It is key that we continue to develop the entrepreneurial mindset, particularly amongst young people, and give them the confidence to start their own business, as this is one area we are particularly lacking."

At a UK level, two-thirds of women said they started a business to contribute to society, compared to 39% of men.

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