Former BBC chairman tasked to conduct review into Invest NI

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons with Sir Michael Lyons who will lead an independent review of the work of Invest NI 
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons with Sir Michael Lyons who will lead an independent review of the work of Invest NI  Economy Minister Gordon Lyons with Sir Michael Lyons who will lead an independent review of the work of Invest NI 

A FORMER chairman of the BBC has been drafted in to conduct an independent review of the north's economic development agency Invest NI.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons confirmed that Sir Michael Lyons (72) has been tasked to provide an independent assessment of Invest NI’s efficiency and effectiveness.

The review, which aligns with the New Decade, New Approach commitment for various Stormont departments to review their arm’s-length bodies, will also look at the agency's capacity to strategically align with - and deliver on - the much-vaunted 10X Economic Vision.

Sir Michael, who is currently non-executive chair of English Cities Fund, which brings together investment, regeneration expertise and long-term commitment to shape towns and cities for the better, will pull together a number of individuals later this year to sit on a panel and assist with his review.

No stranger to the north, he chaired the Belfast Innovation and Inclusive Growth Commission, which last June published a ‘Reset for Growth’ report setting out proposals on providing more homes in the city centre and completely reshaping the city with more social and green space, a café culture and sustainable transport.

The announcement comes less than two months after Kevin Holland quit his role as chief executive of Invest NI after just two years.

Mel Chittock, who had headed up the the agency’s finance and operations department, is currently leading on an interim basis while a new recruitment campaign is being drafted for the £170,000-a-year position.

Minister Lyons said: “Sir Michael has a distinguished track record and brings a depth of relevant experience which will be crucial in steering the public debate around the future of economic development in Northern Ireland.”

He added: “The 10X Economic Vision published last May sets out our ambitions for the next decade and aims to create a step change in how we think about our economy.

“Invest NI’s role in translating the 10X ambition into a new economic reality is crucial, and now is the perfect time to take stock and ensure the organisation is positioned to respond to a changing economic landscape in preparation for an economy that is ten times better.

“The independent review I have commissioned will examine Invest NI's current business model and identify any support required to deliver our bold 10X policy objectives on innovation, growth and inclusion.”

Invest NI chair Rose Mary Stalker said: “We fully welcome this review and wholeheartedly endorse the importance of independently assessing our efficiency and effectiveness.

“Invest NI’s operating environment has changed a lot since the last independent review of economic policy in 2008.

“Ensuring our capacity and capability is strategically aligned to the 10X Economic Vision and future economic realities is vitally important, and this review provides a great opportunity to acknowledge the dedication of the team and achievements made to date, to take stock of the new economic landscape and ensure the organisation is best placed to meet the changing needs of our economy.”

Sir Michael said: “The launch of the 10X Economic Vision presents a unique opportunity to encourage the reshaping of the Northern Ireland economy by placing innovation at the heart of policy development and delivery.

“Invest NI will play a pivotal role in the achievement of this vision and therefore it is the ideal time to review the organisation’s effectiveness and consider its capacity to deliver on the vision.”

He added: “I'm committed to ensuring all voices are heard as part of this review, and I am looking forward to working with key stakeholders from all sectors and regions of Northern Ireland.”