New dashboard looks at real time datasets on various business facets

Checking out the new dashboard are (from left) Gillian Martin (UUEPC), Alan Lowry (FSB), Andew Parker (Grant Thorton) and Dr Karen Bonner (UUEPC)
Checking out the new dashboard are (from left) Gillian Martin (UUEPC), Alan Lowry (FSB), Andew Parker (Grant Thorton) and Dr Karen Bonner (UUEPC)

A NEW first of its kind enterprise dashboard has been launched in Northern Ireland to help policy makers understand business landscape.

The portal has been created and is hosted by the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre (UUEPC), in partnership with FSB and Grant Thornton.

The dashboard (available at combines datasets on various facets of business, including the number, sector and ‘business birth-rate’ across various towns, cities and regions.

UU senior economist Dr Karen Bonner, said: “There is a wealth of business data out there but it is contained in various formats across different government agencies, and that makes it more difficult for users to access or understand.

“Although economists are very familiar with the data, the creation of this user-friendly dashboard means other academics and decision-makers can now access data that will help them become better informed and help them make evidenced-based policy choices.

“We will update the dashboard monthly, adding ever-more indicators to facilitate insights about our business demography.”

Andrew Webb, chief economist at Grant Thornton Ireland, said: “As economists we use accurate, up-to-date data and indicators and we want to ensure those resources are available to our teams across the island of Ireland, as well as policy makers.

“To deliver on this ambition, we have committed resource to this project, resulting in a single point of access, beautiful visualisations and the ability to compare various indicators.

“This is the first dashboard of its kind and one that will add real value to all of its users and represents a really significant contribution to effective policy making.”

FSB NI policy chair Alan Lowry added: “We are very excited to partner with UU and Grant Thornton in this ground-breaking initiative. There is a well-known maxim that to manage something, it needs to be measured; this dashboard helps policy-makers to do just that.

“Our previous research showed that Northern Ireland significantly lags behind Scotland, England and the Republic of Ireland when it comes to the number of businesses starting up each year.

“While conducting the research, we became aware of the challenges in establishing an accurate picture of the local business landscape, often because ‘legacy systems’ lack user-friendliness or accuracy.

“If we are to grow the economy, we need to see more businesses starting up; but to put the right policies and supports in place, we first need to be able to measure what we have.

“This dashboard has a major role to play in that process and it will develop further to let data be compared across different countries using technology to remove the heavy administrative burden.

“That will help us get closer to ‘real-time’ data, which will change the face of reporting and enterprise policy-making as we know it today.”