§ Dr. Moonie
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to improve the take up of grants and other incentives for research and development by small and medium enterprises.
§ Mr. Atkins
Given their importance in the region's economy, Northern Ireland's research and development strategy and the corporate plan and activities of its industrial research and technology unit are focused on increasing innovation and competitiveness in small to medium enterprises. A range of consultancy and technology transfer services are available; there is a programme of support for research and development, including the SMART awards and product development; and sustained promotional and awareness raising initiatives are undertaken. The SMART awards and teaching company scheme have been particularly successful in the region.