National Productivity Week 27th January 2025 | Visit Website

A diverse community of
leading experts, policymakers
and practitioners

The Institute’s key research themes
are led by ten academic partners
spread across the UK.

We’re a UK-wide research
organisation exploring what
productivity means for business

Businesses are crucial to solving
the UK’s productivity problems.


Northern Ireland Productivity Forum

Northern Ireland is home to 1.8 million people, with the capital Belfast the only cities with a population of more than 100,000. Its traditional industrial economy, most notably in shipbuilding, rope manufacture and textiles, has largely been replaced by services and it is consistently one of the least productive regions of the UK. Its output per hour in 2018 was 15.6% below the UK average, third from bottom among the 12 UK regions.

RPF logo for Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Forum is led by the Queen’s University Belfast. It is involved in the implementation of research insights, the design of practical business and policy interventions, and in providing input to the development of the Institute’s future research agenda.

Members include stakeholders from policy, community and business leaders from local, national and multinational enterprises.

Key Contacts

Dame Rotha Johnston DBE

Northern Ireland Forum Chair

John Turner

Professor John Turner

Northern Ireland Forum Lead
Queen's University Belfast

Silhouette of a head

Ruth Donaldson

Northern Ireland Forum Contact
Queen's University Belfast


David Jordan

Queen's University Belfast

Esmond Birnie

Ulster University Business School

Graham Brownlow

Queen's University Belfast

John Healey

Allstate Northern Ireland

Nola Hewitt-Dundas

Queen's University Belfast

Stephen Kelly

Manufacturing Northern Ireland

Conor Lambe

Dankse Bank

Julie McCandless

Queen's University Belfast

Ann Morgan

Retired Chief Executive

Richard Ramsey

Ulster Bank

Louise Warde Hunter

Belfast Metropolitan College

David Watson

Senior Advisor, Ryobi Aluminium Casting Ltd. (Retired MD)

Ann Watt


Graeme Wilkinson

Department for the Economy Northern Ireland

Lisa Wilson

Nevin Economic Research Institute

Clare Guinness

Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce

John Irwin


Cara Haffey


Paul MacFlynn

Nevin Economic Research Institute

The Northern Irish economy, which was once well-known for shipbuilding and the linen industry, has experienced severe structural headwinds as those industries experienced decline and have now disappeared. While the regional economy remains more concentrated in agriculture, construction and manufacturing relative to the rest of the UK, it is also seeing some new growth in specific areas of services, including the business services sector and the knowledge economy. However Northern Ireland has the worst productivity performance of any region in the UK, trailing 17% behind the UK and 29% behind the Republic of Ireland. This gap is a persistent feature of the local economy.

Northern Ireland does not share a land border with the UK mainland – a matter that has become more challenging with the UK’s exit from the EU in which Northern Ireland was granted a special status being still under intra-EU trade rules – but is also only part of the UK to share a land border with an EU member state, the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland needs to fully use its powers to tailor economic policy through devolution. Today, the Assembly at Stormont has key policy powers relevant to productivity, including education and skills, infrastructure, and economic and enterprise policy but post-Brexit tensions have meant departments have been left without devolved ministers since February 2022. Find insights in productivity in Northern Ireland below.