A University of St Andrews Economist has been appointed head of a major new research body dedicated to improving the supply of independent economic advice and research in Northern Ireland.
Professor John Beath has been appointed Chair of ERINI (Economic Research Institute of Northern Ireland) – a new research board created by the Northern Ireland Executive.
ERINI will combine the roles of the current Northern Ireland Economic Council (NIEC) and the Northern Ireland Economic Research Centre (NIERC). Professor Beath will Chair a board of fifteen, comprising individuals with academic, business, trade union and other interests.
Professor Beath, who between 1997 and 1999 served on the panel of economic advisers to the Secretary of State for Scotland, will take up his role when the ERINI board meets for the first time.
Upon his appointment, he said: “It is an honour to have been appointed as the first chair of ERINI and I am excited by the strategic challenge that it presents. It is quite rare to find an independent policy institute, supported by public funds, with a brief both to assess and constructively critique existing policy and also to assist in its development.
“I hope that this independence will benefit both the agencies of government and the public of Northern Ireland and I intend to work to see that it does.”
The announcement was officially made last week by Ian Pearson MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in Northern Ireland.
He said: “I am pleased to announce the appointment of Professor John Beath as the first Chair of ERINI and the Members who will make up the new Board. They have a wide range of backgrounds and interests which should be invaluable to the work of the new institute.
“The new body will build on the important work undertaken over the past yeats by the NIEC and NIERC and I am confident that ERINI will play a vital role in fulfilling the Executive’s aim of stronger policy development work in Northern Ireland for the benefit of Government and the public.”
Professor Beath has been Professor of Economics at St Andrews since 1991 and has served as Head of the School of Social Sciences. He is currently the Chair of the Conference of UK Head of Department of Economics. In 1996 and 2001 he was a member of the Economics and Econometrics Panel in the Research Assessment Exercises run by the United Kingdom Higher Education Funding Councils (HEFC).
Professor Beath’s current research areas are in the economics of innovation, in particular knowledge transfer between firms and universities, and in taxation policy.
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