| 20°C Belfast

Foreign investment ‘key to private sector growth’

Continued foreign investment is vital for growing Northern Ireland’s private sector, according to a US businessman.

Brad Waugh, president and chief executive officer of NaviNet, spoke ahead of a visit to Belfast where he will meet politicians and the business community at an awards ceremony.

NaviNet, which operates a secure online network between US doctors and health insurers, created 60 skilled jobs in Belfast when it set up a software research and development centre as part of a £4.4m investment backed by Invest NI.

It was the company’s first investment outside the US.

Mr Waugh said: “Northern Ireland is a great place to do business and is noted for the quality of its workforce. As a company that has invested in Northern Ireland in the last 12 months, NaviNet has seen the value of this and our Belfast centre will play an important role in the future growth and success of our company.

“At a time when Northern Ireland is looking for ways to grow its private sector, foreign direct investment provides the opportunity of creating not only high numbers of employment but developing clusters of expertise in high-value sectors like healthcare, life sciences and new media.

“Not only does it allow for the local workforce to develop new skills that will attract other investors but it allows for many of the indigenous businesses who work alongside inward investors to access global markets.”

Weekly Business Digest

Margaret Canning’s selection of the must-read business stories straight to your inbox every Tuesday morning

This field is required

New figures from Financial Times company fDi Intelligence estimate that last year foreign investment into Northern Ireland was worth around £730m and in the last five years has created around of 22,000 new jobs.

Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI chief executive said: “I am delighted to welcome Brad Waugh back to Northern Ireland following NaviNet’s multi-million pound investment announced last year.”

Mr Waugh’s visit is the most recent event organised to highlight Northern Ireland’s investment potential.

The employment minister Sir Reg Empey was in New York last week to promote Northern Ireland ahead of the US-NI economic conference in Washington next month.

This weekend, Invest NI is hosting US entrepreneurs, visiting Belfast for a special ice hockey game between the Belfast Giants and Boston Bruins.