Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland budget crisis won’t affect business growth

By Clare Weir

The First Minister and the head of economic development agency Invest NI have said they hoped that budget woes will not stop foreign and indigenous business from expanding in Northern Ireland.

Peter Robinson and Alastair Hamilton were speaking as IT firm Version 1 announced it was creating 50 new jobs in Belfast, bringing the headcount at new offices in the Gasworks to 76 by the end of 2017.

Invest NI has offered £350,000 of support for the 50 jobs as part of an overall £6.5m investment by the firm.

Northern Ireland Executive ministers face having to make £200m of cuts between October and April, equivalent to 4% of all departmental budgets.

“Invest NI has a list of clients at an advanced stage wanting to progress their business plans,” said Mr Robinson.

“But Invest are waiting to see what comes out of the October monitoring round and see what monies it will have in its budget.

“It would be dreadful if Invest was put in the situation where it would be incapable of delivering the incentives to companies wanting to expand here.”

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton said that the last few years had been “extremely successful” in terms of the number and quality of jobs it had been able to deliver. “Some of this is due to the global economic recovery and some of this has been due to the support from the Northern Ireland Executive,” he said.

“I am confident that the Executive sees the value of what we are doing for the local economy and will continue their support, which has helped allow us to attract the success we have seen in recent years.”

Version 1 established its Oracle centre of excellence in Belfast in 2012, with support from Invest NI. The company has six other offices across the UK and Ireland and is headquartered in Dublin.

Lorna McAdoo, Version 1's newly appointed ‘Head of Northern Ireland', who has been working in the IT industry for three decades, said that the company hoped to complete the acquisition of another UK company by the end of this summer.

The firm was founded in 1996 by chief executive officer Justin Keatinge and co-founder John Mullen.

It has made key acquisitions including Prose Software in 2006, PM Centrix in 2010, Tieto UK in 2013 and Rocela Group in 2014, and clients include Airtricity, Irish Life, RTE and 02.

Belfast Telegraph