From the weekend…

1) The Economist talks about getting back to business.
Worth a read.

Panos Lioulias, chief executive of Qubis, a venture-capital outfit that nurtures spin-offs from Queen’s University in Belfast, thinks indigenous entrepreneurs are a big part of the remedy. Northern Ireland’s universities turn out top-notch graduates in physics, life sciences, computing and the like—the basic stuff of start-ups. One of Qubis’s stars is Andor, founded in 1989 by a physics graduate student, Hugh Cormican, who hit on new imaging technology. Andor went public in 2004 and is now valued at £195m ($314m). Sheena Lewis, an academic biologist, launched new diagnostic tests for male infertility in May; she says she is already getting inquiries from India and China.
But such firms, however successful, offer a limited number of jobs: Andor employs only 300 people. So for many, foreign direct investment is the real key. In the past, as the Republic of Ireland was attracting the likes of Google and Dell, its troubled northern neighbour found it tougher, despite offering low costs and desirable skills. That has begun to change—and not only because of economic turmoil in the south.
Many businessmen praise Invest Northern Ireland, the agency charged with regional development, for pulling in high-quality inward investment, especially in finance, technology and business services. In the 12 months to March it secured over 2,800 new jobs, 80% of them paying above the private-sector average. The hitch is that, under EU rules, the state financial aid that lubricated such deals will end in 2013.
Northern Ireland is now agitating to cut its corporation-tax rate from Britain’s 26% to something more like the 12.5% in Ireland. “With this tool we will not only grow the Northern Ireland economy but also contribute to the UK’s,” says Arlene Foster, enterprise minister at Stormont. London may well agree—if the province gives up some of its central-government grant in exchange. Others argue that inward investment will anyway be constrained by economic woes elsewhere, and that Ulster’s best asset is its educated workers, so any gamble that imperils the funding of public services is a mistake. A decision is expected from Whitehall in the autumn.

2) Independent on zero tolerance in Glasgow.
Enjoy.
3) And how the Orange fared in Glasgow.

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  • Rory Carr

    “We will not tolerate anti-sectarian behaviour of any kind and my officers will adopt a zero-tolerance approach,” he [Chief Superintendent Bernard Higgins] warned.

    Looks as if he is still reading from the “Hymns Ancient” rather than “Hymns Modern” section of the sheet.

  • Now, here’s a funny thing: —

    Were I, a non-economist, but a regular reader of The Economist, looking for ways of increasing employment, spreading the moolah around, and generally lightening the load on Sharon And Sean Citizen, I’d be considering ways to reduce taxation on consumption.

    So, in the RoI, VAT on “tourism” (which includes meals out, hotels, cinemas …) is down to 9%. In NI it’s 11% higher.

    Yet, the real fuss is about the difference in Corporation Tax.

    It all reminds me of which interest group controls the media and our sources of information (which was another thread here in the last few days).

  • lamhdearg

    i wonder how many of those “top-notch graduates in physics, life sciences, computing and the like—the basic stuff of start-up” would be “top-notch graduates in physics, life sciences, computing and the like—the basic stuff of start-ups” if they had been lumped together with the likes of me a secondary school half wit during their teens. There must be something the grammar system is doing right in Ulster.

  • lamhderg,

    We don’t have grammar schools in Canada, just High Schools where all children have their secondary education and we produce a fair number of the folks you describe. Depends on the curriculum and, as everywhere, the quality of the teachers.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘Were I, a non-economist, but a regular reader of The Economist, looking for ways of increasing employment, spreading the moolah around, and generally lightening the load on Sharon And Sean Citizen, I’d be considering ways to reduce taxation on consumption’

    Malcolm, you betray your ignorance. When you’re deeply indebted to the rest of the UK and the world in general, you want to be producing things that the rest of the UK wants to buy. You do not achieve that by encouraging domestic consumption which will suck in even more imports and increase your indebtedness.
    In the RoI, on the other hand, they are producing a lot of stuff that the rest of the world wants to buy: exports are motoring ahead. Dropping the VAT rate on selected services is mainly designed to try and make the country less hideously expensive for tourism, also a major exporting industry.

  • Old Mortality @ 7:02 pm:

    Hmm, rather than “sucking in even more imports” I thought the clue was in the word “tourism”. But if tourists consume, I suppose we should continue to discourage them.

  • FuturePhysicist

    I think business must understand how much it needs to be weaned off publicly funded research too, and that IT should provide for the rise in technology prices due to companies having to deal with doubling their R&D budgets and coping with added bureaucratic safety protocols.

    public science research, was the heaviest cut department, then came the universities in the name of saving business money as a result business can’t throw their hands in the air presuming that they can rely on independent objective and credible research without providing the money to do so.

    My own belief is that the private sector will not fill the hole, and lacks the ability to ensure that there are real science and engineering jobs at the heart of innovation. Quite simply when government tries to pass the costs of science and engineering onto the UK private sector they sell their industrial outlet overseas, or move to a more generous state sponsored university country in order to save money. It becomes more difficult to invest in science and engineering, but those who do form monopolies and can fix prices, while permabears sell more assets to keep a float.

    The state has subsidised a flagging sector, the current government’s alternative is rhetoric and cuts, completely ignoring the potential of science and engineering to provide infrastructural savings while at the same time the same old accountancy machinations that the old money MA brigade of business entrepreneurship will continue to be the broken stick being beaten at the markets deluding themselves that they are competing, really though they use the same one-trick pony their granddaddies used – usury.

    The old mantra of the UK still remains, Good at Science, Bad at using Science as does the Nation of Shopkeepers stereotype … and long will it continue.

  • FuturePhysicist

    “But such firms, however successful, offer a limited number of jobs”

    Why is that? Why can’t these companies offer a significant number of jobs if they are successful? Why can’t they become foreign direct investors themselves?

    One question to The Economist, why are the Foreigners much better investors?

    Why is their an add on this webpage about the Government Spending money on High Speed Rail, described as a “rich man’s train” … subsidising the industry.

    Does it have a military or medical purpose?

  • aquifer

    ‘But such firms, however successful, offer a limited number of jobs’

    Too much Northern scepticisim or negativity there, as clearly many more such successful R&D based firms can create infinite numbers of jobs, and the spending this generates can also create jobs for the less skilled.

    We cannot afford to deny or ignore what already works.

    I find it insulting that people cannot imagine local people doing well in international terms, and then we wonder why many leave. Still the old sow that eats its young.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Most businesses won’t take a chance on either R&D or so called highly skilled graduates … innovation is just something people here won’t do or make risks for. The reality is though that doing nothing or the same thing expecting different results is leading us nowhere.