Tech firm MACOM aiming to double its staff at new base in Belfast City Quays
A US-owned technology firm is opening up a new Belfast office at the City Quays building, with plans to almost double its workforce this year.
MACOM Technology Solutions is producing advanced semi-conductors, used in mobile base stations.
The firm, which is headed by Dr Andrew Patterson in Northern Ireland, is moving from its current base at Newforge Lane to its new top-end offices, with the help of property consultant Murphy Chartered Surveyors.
The business now employs 22 staff, but with growing demand for its cutting edge technology, it's hoping to expand its workforce in the coming months.
"Our design business locally is working with gallium nitride on silicon - high power semi-conductors," Dr Patterson told the Belfast Telegraph. "This is a technology which the company has acquired and they are growing...it's potentially a very big market."
He said the new offices, which are owned by Belfast Harbour, harked back to the days when the city was known for its shipbuilding.
"That type of building was hard to find in Belfast. We are happy to be located in the harbour, with the heritage. MACOM has links back to the first satellite probes in space in the 1960s. MACOM has expanded very rapidly... and we have opened design centres worldwide. There are opportunities for us to expand as we open the market."
Dr Patterson said his current workforce was a mixture of staff from Northern Ireland, with others coming out of universities in England and Wales.
"Out of 22 people we have seven or eight PhDs. Some are from local universities, but also Cardiff, Bristol and UCD."
MACOM employs around 1,000 people across the globe.
It's understood the new office is due to open in March.
Graeme Johnston, property director of Belfast Harbour, said: "Although it's just 18 months since work began on City Quays 1, MACOM's move means that the Grade A office will be around 85% occupied by this spring.
"The lease for the remaining space is currently being finalised with a fourth tenant.
"The relative lack of investor-friendly, energy efficient office space in Belfast has been well highlighted and the speed at which City Quays 1 has been let to overseas investors confirms strong market demand for high quality office accommodation."
Mr Johnston said initial interest in City Quays 2, which is due to be completed next year, "has already been strong".
MACOM is the latest firm to move in to the harbour building.
American tech company Cayan is also moving its operation to the City Quays 1 development, the Boston firm is occupying around a third of the waterfront property. It joins US law firm Baker & McKenzie.
Meanwhile, Belfast company Lagan Building Contractors is starting work on an £18m project to build the new City Quays 2.
It is the latest phase in Belfast Harbour's £250m, 20-acre regeneration plan for the area.