NORTHERN Ireland has more entrepreneurs in the 18-24 age group than any other part of the UK.

NORTHERN Ireland has more entrepreneurs in the 18-24 age group than any other part of the UK.

But overall the province lags behind the rest of the UK in levels of entrepreneurial activity.

Those are two of the key findings of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report published by Invest Northern Ireland.

The research also found that people in Ulster appear to be more negative about their ability to run their own business than their counterparts in Britain.

A high number of people cite the fear of failure and lack of confidence about their skills as barriers to starting a business.

Those most likely to take the plunge are people in the 18-24 and 35-44 age brackets and graduates.

The report found that, although the province lags behind the rest of the UK, there has been a marked increase in the level of entrepreneurial activity.

Business churn - the sum of all business start-ups plus all closures - has doubled, showing a dynamism in the entrepreneurial market.

Professor Fabian Monds, chairman of Invest NI, said: "Entrepreneurship is now widely recognised as a key source of economic growth, employment and regeneration.

"GEM provides us with clear insights as to what is working and what is not; what is hindering enterprise and what is making things better and what changes need to be made to drive the enterprise agenda forward."

Professor Terri Scott, managing director with responsibility for entrepreneurship in Invest NI, said: "Although the report indicates that there is still much work to be done, it identifies positive trends such as an increase in opportunity entrepreneurship. That means that people are choosing to set up in business because they see opportunities, rather than because they see no other way of finding employment."

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