Northern Ireland’s low business birth rate should be cause for concern

Press Releases 15 Feb 2024

These figures emphasise the need to remove barriers to starting up new businesses in Northern Ireland

Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre (UUEPC) has updated its Enterprise Dashboard with NISRA’s newly released business births and deaths data. 

Commenting on the latest statistics, Alan Lowry, FSB’s NI Policy Chair said:

“The fact that the business birth and death rates are almost identical means that this sector of the economy is barely treading water. It is concerning that the number of new businesses being created in Northern Ireland lags so far behind other parts of the UK.

“The establishment of over one hundred new businesses every week in Northern Ireland in 2022 could be seen as an encouraging sign, but that is tempered by the fact that another one hundred per week closed their doors. There were just 28 businesses born in Northern Ireland per 10,000 of population in 2022, whereas the rate in England was almost twice that at 52 businesses born per 10,000 of population.

“This emphasises the need to remove barriers to starting up, combined with more focus on promoting the concept and merits of starting a business, and a change of attitude.

“In 2019, FSB Northern Ireland and Ulster University Business School, produced a report called ‘Back to the Start-Up’ which examined why the business birth rate in Northern Ireland lags behind the rest of the UK. Whilst the need for a change in policy has been recognised by government and we now have a new business start-up support programme, some key commitments have been left unfulfilled.

“We need to develop and implement the NI entrepreneurship strategy, engage properly with business to help develop the Go Succeed programme beyond 2025 and most of all – we need to celebrate our fantastic entrepreneurs far more.   

“All of us - bankers, politicians, policymakers and consumers - should make every possible effort to help Northern Ireland to become one of the most entrepreneurial places on Earth.” 


Notes to Editors:

Link to Ulster University Economic Policy Centre Enterprise Dashboard:

Back to the Start-Up: