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Digital industry pumps £1.4bn into economy

The digital industry in Northern Ireland generates a turnover of more than £1.4bn per annum.

The figure was revealed in the UK Technology Insights 2011 report published by e-skills UK.

The Northern Ireland IT Snapshot of April 2012 reports that there are 16,000 employed in the IT and telecoms industry and that 12,000 people are working in IT or telecoms occupations in other industries, bringing the total to 28,000.

A report by an independent consultant for the Northern Ireland IT Employers Board highlighted that with a sufficient supply of skills, this sector could employ over 50,000 people within five years.

Northern Ireland has become home to a cluster of big IT companies, mainly in the financial and medical software industries and many of which are members of the Momentum trade body.

Financial services giants NYSE, Newry-founded First Derivatives, Allstate, Liberty IT, Citi Group and Cybersource all have a presence in Northern Ireland while there are also big public procurement specialists located here, like Kainos, Singularity, Kana, Equiniti ICS, Northgate IS and Fujitsu Services.

In the medical devices and health technology sector, big hitters include Sectra, Path XL, Andor Technologies and cloud computing experts including SAP, SQS Group and Novosco all make Northern Ireland their home.

Professor Richard J Millar, dean of the faculty of computing and engineering at the University of Ulster, said that he was confident Northern Ireland could double the size of the current industry in the next five years.

He added: "If we are given more places in our universities and colleges of further education to satisfy the demand for places from our young people, and can bring in people from those in other sectors that want to re-skill into an exciting and enriching career in the ICT and digital industries, then we can really drive forward."