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Northern Ireland is among the best in UK for digital tech output


Director at the Northern Ireland Science Park, Steve Orr

Director at the Northern Ireland Science Park, Steve Orr

Director at the Northern Ireland Science Park, Steve Orr

Digital tech businesses account for 5.4% of Northern Ireland's economic output - the second highest share for the industry in the UK, according to a report.

The research by Tech City UK also said the number of digital tech businesses in Belfast grew by more than a third between 2010 and 2014, contributing £521m to the city's economy.

Across the province, digital firms contributed £1bn to the economy, with average salaries of £35,680 per annum. However, that was still among the lowest of tech salaries in the top 20 clusters, with Dundee the lowest of the 20.

According to the report, digital salaries in Belfast grew at a rate of 14.8% between 2012 and 2015 - the fastest rate of wage growth of the top 10 clusters. And it was more than double the rate of salary growth experienced in Edinburgh.

Steve Orr, a director at the Northern Ireland Science Park - one of Northern Ireland's main clusters of technology companies - said the report demonstrated that digital tech was an important tool in the growth of the Northern Irish economy.

"Our specialisms in cyber security, app and software development and digital media and entertainment are helping to shape Belfast's reputation as a centre for digital excellence," he added. "The growing importance of digital among traditionally non-digital industries will ensure the continued success and growth of this cluster for years to come."

The report looked at the contribution to the economy of firms such as software start-up RepKnight, which is based in Belfast.

RepKnight captures data from open source, social media, and dark web traffic to help companies protect themselves against cyber-crime. The company employs around 30 people and is currently looking for more.

Founder John Reid said: "Having close working relationships with the local community of digital companies in Belfast has been of huge benefit to RepKnight.

"The ability to share ideas and expertise across a collaborative cluster enables our business to grow faster and more sustainably.

"The digital tech ecosystem here is fantastic for starting and growing a digital tech business, and Belfast is rightly being recognised as a leading environment for digital tech entrepreneurs."

This week agri-software firm Sixty-5 - a digital technology firm based in Co Londonderry - said it was creating 23 jobs and investing a total of £1.4m.

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