MATRIX is a business-led science industry panel whose remit is to provide independent advice to the Department for the Economy and the Minister for the Economy.
In order to increase the return from science & innovation in Northern Ireland (NI), MATRIX was established to provide government with expert innovation, academic & scientific advice.
MATRIX was established to meet identified needs by: providing advice to NI government on maximising the economic impact of R&D, science and innovation; representing the voice of high tech industry; championing the role of Science and Technology; & identifying future high tech market opportunities for NI.
MATRIX explores how NI’s R&D & Science & Technology strengths to can be best levered for commercial advantage and to help ensure sustainable economic growth in NI. It examines market opportunities on 2, 5 and 10 yearly forecasts to steer investment in science, technologies & skills. A major element of its work is its foresight reports. Its first report examined strategic markets across five key sectors – ICT, Advanced Engineering, Advanced Materials, Agri-food and Life and Health Sciences and also recommended the use of pre-commercial procurement. It continues to identify future global market opportunities, producing further foresight reports in: Telecommunications; Sustainable Energy; Life & Health Sciences; ICT/Digital; Advanced Manufacturing, Materials and Engineering; and Creative Technologies. MATRIX plays a key role in informing the strategic thinking of government & sectoral bodies.
Regarding this Interreg project (CLUSTERS3), MATRIX has been invaluable in identifying priority areas.

Resources needed

Approximately £250k per annum.
6 full time staff

Evidence of success

MATRIX gathers experts from innovation, scientific and academic fields to provide advice to Government and has significantly influenced Government policy including the Programme for Government, the draft NI Industrial Strategy, the Innovation Strategy and the Life & Health Sciences Strategic Action Plan.
Invest NI used MATRIX sectoral reports to launch calls for expression of interest in developing collaborative networks in niche areas where NI has demonstrated existing or potential capability.

Difficulties encountered

There is the prospect for MATRIX recommendations to be more widely used in government policy, particularly in influencing the prioritisation of investment. For example, a report on pre-commercial procurement, while accepted, struggled to gain traction, until a specific funding stream was ring-fenced

Potential for learning or transfer

This practice provides an example of the setting up of a successful industry-led government advisory body.
The reports produced by MATRIX clearly show the benefits of appropriate industrial expertise, supported by academia, in such an economic advisory body.
The influence of the panel on the direction of governmental strategy documents reinforces the importance of the use of comprehensive and expert-driven foresight in policy making. The reports have influenced investments by public, private and academic sectors and have helped to highlight areas of strength and opportunity for the region.
The panel’s work on pre-commercial procurement has directly influenced NI government’s use of the Small Business Research Initiative and subsequently informed policy and practice in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and most UK Central Government.
The significant lesson learnt is the importance of a wide bank of expert advice when developing economic, scientific and innovation policies and strategies.

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Main institution
Department for the Economy
Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Start Date
April 2006
End Date


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