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New Belfast BT project helps create 75 new jobs with £30m research

By Staff Reporter

Telecoms giant BT is to carry out a £30m research and development project in Belfast, which will see the appointment of around 75 new staff.

And economic development agency Invest NI has offered funding of £9m towards the R&D at the new BT Ireland Innovation Centre.

BT is one of Northern Ireland’s biggest private sector employers with nearly 3,500 staff.

Staff at its new centre will be researching the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and data analytics for customer experience, cyber-security and 5G Communications.

BT will work with Ulster University on more than £7m worth of joint research, which BT said would drive the creation of 25 research jobs — in addition to 50 new jobs for graduates at BT’s global development centre.

Howard Watson, chief executive for technology, service and operations at BT, said: “This is an exciting and significant investment for BT and for Northern Ireland. Our new innovation centre will operate alongside our existing Belfast global development centre, the BT Labs in Suffolk, and our global network of technology scouts to further strengthen our research and innovation capability, bringing together industrial engineers and university researchers.”

And he said that he hoped the opening would help attract and retain IT talent.

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton said: “This new innovation centre in Belfast is a tremendous endorsement of BT’s continued commitment to Northern Ireland and a reflection of the availability of highly skilled people we have here.

“The centre will become an internationally recognised centre of excellence for innovation and will complement BT’s international research centres.”

He said spending on R&D was “critical to future growth”. 

“As a result of this project, 25 new posts in Ulster University, as well as 50 new roles within BT, will be created, which will generate an additional £1.4m of annual salaries into the Northern Ireland economy,” he added.

Ulster University vice-chancellor Prof Paddy Nixon said the link-up with BT was a “unique collaboration opportunity”.

“Computing and engineering at Ulster University is at the forefront of diverse research excellence in data science and networks, equipping us to play an integral role in transformative telecommunications,” he said.

“Creating 25 research posts — including 12 at PhD level — the new centre offers unrivalled higher education opportunities alongside industry leaders.  Through our research and skilled graduate talent we are proud to support indigenous industry and the region’s ability to attract foreign direct investment.”

The announcement comes after Invest NI pledged £472,000 in R&D support to Qualcomm Technologies for its research into means of improving the quality of sound in consumer devices.

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