Northern Ireland

A modest but stable entrepreneurial environment

Although Northern Ireland is home to just 36 high-growth enterprises, accounting for a modest 0.8% share of high-growth companies nationwide, its entrepreneurial environment remains stable since last year’s research. The region saw only very slight decreases in the number of PE- and VC-backed companies.

Northern Ireland is home to 20 private equity-backed companies, seeing a decrease of just one company since last year. This is the smallest number of any region except the North East (19), but only just behind the East Midlands (23). The regions with the greatest number of private equity-backed companies are the North West (78), South East (115) and London (204).

36: Number of high-growth companies
£2m: Amount of VC invested

The number of companies with venture capital funding is also 20, again decreasing by just one company year-on-year. Northern Ireland boasts a 6.4% share of the UK’s VC-funded companies, and ranks above numerous other regions for this metric, including Yorkshire & the Humber (17), South West (16), West Midlands (12), North East (10), North West (9), East Midlands (3).

However, the value of VC investment has fallen by a third, to £2 million, from £3 million last year.

Northern Ireland saw 21 M&A deals involving enterprises up to five years old since last year’s research, equal to the number of such deals in Scotland (21) and a higher level of M&A activity than in Wales, which saw 13 such deals. At a UK-wide level, M&A activity involving enterprises up to five years old is up, reaching a new high of 505, significantly higher than the 395 in 2016’s research.

Key findings

National data offers a conflicted snapshot of entrepreneurship, while regional data proffers a promise of diversifying new business activity. London and the South East remain strong incubators, and the North’s entrepreneurial growth is strong. 

Entrepreneurs index

A barometer of the entrepreneurial environment and activity in the UK. This, the ninth volume, focuses on three main indicators: start-up activity, growth of new business and exits of young enterprises.