CMI Northern Ireland Conference

31 January 2018

The Conference was held at the Belfast Harbour Commissioners’ Office on Wed 18th October 2017, despite the after-effects of Hurricane Ophelia! Nearly 80 attendees heard speakers from across the Northern Ireland economy discuss their perspective on the potential challenges posed by BREXIT with a themed conference on “Will BREXIT steal my Cheese” and their different coping strategies.

Opened by the Regional Chair, David Sales, there were sessions by:

  • Professor Margaret Topping, Dean QUB Graduate School, focusing on the impact of BREXIT on Higher Education and threats to R&D funding;
  • Aidan Gough, Director Strategy & Policy Intertrade Ireland, analysed the potential threats raised by BREXIT to SMEs on both sides of the border in Ireland. He went on to explain the tools and support developed by IntertradeIreland to help businesses, especially SMEs, assess the impact to their own particular business.  Interesting that nearly 400 000 goods vehicles cross the border on a weekly basis!
  • Mike Mullan, former HR Director Moypark Europe, looking at the challenges to the Agri-food business. In a pacy presentation, he highlighted concerns around tariffs and internationally mobile labour (migrant labour to the rest of us) and the high proportion of the labour force provided by them in NI jobsector;
  • Heather Moorhead (& Her shoes), Director NI Confederation Health & Social Care, dissecting the pressures on the NI Health & Social Care sector and potential strategies to cope with these.  The sector was struggling not just with managing change but also finding the human capital to conduct its daily healthcare operations.
  • Detective Ally Burns, PSNI Cybercrime Unit, highlighting the current threats to business by Cybercrime, European collaborative partnerships and the assistance available to businesses.  Over £6.4M of cybercrime was reported last year across the UK: this is an 16% increase over the previous reporting period.  The real total is likely to much bigger as business confidence is signifigicantly damaged by publicity. New relationships will have to be put in place to replicate the powers of European Arrest Warrants and sharing of information cross-borders.
  • Ian Myson, Director HE Partnerships CMI. Ian focused on CMI and its strategies to develop HE partnerships.

Q&A Panel sessions permitted delegates to question the speakers who also participated in a networking session after the formal conference session. The event was reported in local newspapers and business magazines.