Northern Ireland Science Park to add 500 tech jobs as part of £6.5m expansion
The Northern Ireland Science Park is expanding in a £6.5m investment part-funded by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell today 'cuts the sod' at the Belfast Titanic Quarter development, which it is hoped will accommodate another 500 technology jobs.
Already, around 2,600 people work at the science parks in Belfast and Londonderry.
The latest development will entail the construction of the third of three buildings known as The Concourse, with the facility due to open in August 2016.
It will bring flexible office space for companies in technologies like ICT, life science, engineering and biotech.
When fully completed, the 210,000 sq ft three-building complex will represent an investment of more than £20m.
Science Park chief executive Norman Apsley said: "We are delighted to mark the next phase of our development today, which is part of an ambitious growth plan we have given ourselves over the next 10 years.
"If we are to achieve our vision of the transformation of Northern Ireland into one of the most entrepreneurial knowledge economies across Europe, it is vital that we have world class accommodation for our innovative knowledge businesses.
"But this is only part of the story. As a key node in the innovation ecosystem, the Science Park provides a suite of services and programmes to a growing number of entrepreneurs and innovative firms, giving them the best chance of success and opportunity to work with our significant network of experienced and successful professionals from across the globe."
He said the Science Park was well on the way to helping innovative companies and entrepreneurs towards growth, which he said would be reflected in its knowledge economy index report next month.
"Our innovation ecosystem continues to be a sought after environment for emerging, developed and large companies in the knowledge economy," he said.
Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said: "It is encouraging to see the continuing demand for additional space at the Northern Ireland Science Park. The emergence of increasing numbers of innovation led businesses is vital as we seek to build the dynamic, export led and knowledge based economy upon which our future prosperity depends."
Last year's knowledge economy index report described Northern Ireland as one of the two fastest-growing 'knowledge economy' regions in the UK.
It said the knowledge economy had expanded by 33% in the last five years, based on factors such as venture capital investment, research and development, start-ups, PhDs and patents. Companies classed as part of the knowledge economy include plane maker Bombardier, pharmaceutical businesses such as Randox and Almac and IT firm Kainos.