Economy Minister Paul Frew has announced the establishment of the Makers Alliance, an independent industry-led body which will drive the strategic development of the Advanced Manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland.

Making the announcement, Minister Frew said: “Northern Ireland’s Advanced Manufacturing sector has been at the heart of our economy for many years. It is also one of the priority clusters identified in my Department’s 10X Economic Vision as having the potential to drive our economy forward.

“Makers Alliance will work closely with key stakeholders including Manufacturing NI, universities, further education colleges and councils to address the needs of industry. Its focus will be to accelerate innovation, digitalisation and the green agenda within manufacturing. It will play an important role in supporting the development of a single, unified vision for the sector. This vision will integrate with national strategies and ensure that the Northern Ireland manufacturing sector remains strong and globally competitive.”

Sir Michael Ryan CBE, Vice President and General Manager of Spirit AeroSystems, Belfast has been appointed Chair of the Makers Alliance.

He said: “The establishment of Makers Alliance couldn’t have come at a better time as we navigate difficult times for many manufacturing businesses and look to a post pandemic recovery. I look forward to taking up this position and supporting the sector to embrace innovation, to drive growth and support a more sustainable, competitive and lower carbon manufacturing industry.”

Mark Nodder and Mark Huddleston have been appointed joint CEOs for a period of 12 months.

Commenting on their new roles, they said: “The Northern Ireland manufacturing sector needs to work collectively to address both the opportunities and challenges which exist. The Makers Alliance will represent the sector to ensure that Northern Ireland has a voice locally, nationally and internationally.

“Our first priority will be to engage with national partners, develop sector action plans, capability road maps and support the sector to capitalise on the wide range of Advanced Manufacturing opportunities within City and Growth deals.

“We very much look forward to starting and would encourage Northern Ireland businesses and stakeholders to engage with us and support our ambitions so we can ensure that Northern Ireland’s Advanced Manufacturing sector continues to grow globally and remain competitive.”

Rose Mary Stalker, Chair of Invest NI, said: “At this pivotal moment, it is essential that our Advanced Manufacturing community is directly involved in setting the transformation strategy for this sector which is critical to the Northern Ireland economy. I am delighted we have secured such outstanding leaders for the Makers Alliance, to champion the innovation, growth opportunities and skills development needed to achieve our 10X ambition”.

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