Launch of the Independent Review of Invest Northern Ireland Report

Review of Invest Northern Ireland report says profound change and reform are needed.

The Chair of the Independent Review Panel into Invest Northern Ireland has said that the agency remains best placed to take forward Northern Ireland’s economic development activities, but that profound change and reform are needed.

In launching the Independent Review Panel’s report published by the Department for the Economy today (Wednesday 11 January 2023), Sir Michael Lyons said the Panel consulted widely and took a challenging approach, engaging with over 300 stakeholders across the region. The Panel also engaged with the Invest NI Board, senior leadership and staff throughout and commissioned three pieces of research to support the Review.

The objective of the Review was to provide an assessment of Invest NI’s efficiency and effectiveness as well as its capacity to align with and deliver the Department for Economy’s 10X Economic Vision.

The report details findings and recommendations across 17 areas including leadership, governance, sub-regional partnerships and Invest NI’s portfolio of programmes.

The key findings of the Review Panel include:

  • Northern Ireland needs an economic development agency and Invest NI is best placed to continue to take forward this work;
  • Profound change is needed that requires reform and repurposing;
  • The agency is having limited impact on productivity;
  • There is considerable room for improvement in leadership, structure, operation, control and public accountability of the agency;
  • Stronger governance and oversight is required from DfE and better strategic and policy direction needs to be provided;
  • Strengthening public understanding of Invest NI work and how it uses public monies is crucial; and
  • The agency needs to be a better partner, particularly in the sub-regional context.


Chair of the Review Panel, Sir Michael Lyons said: 

“The publication of our report comes at a time when Northern Ireland, like other parts of the UK, is facing huge economic challenges. Having a robust economic development agency that can open new opportunities, boost trade, foster growth in key sectors, attract inward investment and support the emergence and growth of indigenous businesses is crucial if Northern Ireland’s frail economy is to be transformed for the better.

“Following the review process we have identified recommendations across 17 broad areas and whilst our report found Invest NI to be the best placed organisation to take this work forward, there remains a need for profound change and reform within the agency in terms of how it is run, the way in which it operates, and how it is perceived across its wide programme of work.

“The recommendations outlined will be for an incoming Minister, the Department and Invest NI to take forward. I would like to thank my colleagues, our secretariat and those people and organisations who took time to engage with this review process and talk to us. I hope they find their input reflected in this body of work.”


About the Review Panel:

  1. The Independent Review of Invest Northern Ireland (NI) was announced by the Minister for the Economy, Gordon Lyons, on 26th January 2022.
  2. The Review Panel was chaired by Sir Michael Lyons who was joined by Dame Rotha Johnston DBE and Maureen O’Reilly.
  3. The objective of the Independent Review was “To provide an independent assessment of Invest NI’s efficiency and effectiveness and, looking forward, its capacity to strategically align with and operationally deliver the 10X Economic Vision”.
  4. The Report, published today by the Department for the Economy, can be found at Independent Review of Invest Northern Ireland (InvestNI) | Department for the Economy (