Belfast Telegraph

PM's trade trip to India reaps jobs for Belfast

By David Elliott

Prime Minister David Cameron's trade mission to India has borne fruit for Northern Ireland with the announcement of new jobs for the Belfast base of an Indian-owned company.

Polaris Financial Technology, which opened up an office in the city in 2006, said it plans to create a specialist research and development centre, one which will create new posts, although the company wouldn't reveal how many.

"Any business plans are construed as forward-looking/price-sensitive and as a public-listed company we cannot share the exact numbers," a spokesman for the company told the Belfast Telegraph.

Nevertheless, the Prime Minister welcomed the news for Belfast.

"It's great to see Polaris expanding in Northern Ireland with the introduction of new innovative computing services and creating new jobs in Belfast," he said during his tour of Mumbai.

Polaris said it is currently working with investment body UK Trade and Investment to expand its Belfast office into a newly formed research, innovation and development centre (RIDC) to service the company's customers across Europe.

It provides software development for both the banking and financial services industries and said the expansion in Belfast is key to its plans in Europe for the coming years.

"Our Belfast centre is central to our expansion plans in Europe as it enables us to work closely with our customers to manage their business outcomes," Bikash Mathur, head of Europe Business at Polaris Financial Technology said.

He said the company had chosen to base the new centre in Belfast because of the skills base, and also because of cost.

"Our choice of Belfast to locate our near shore centre was determined by the cost of operations and availability of skilled talent in the area, very vital to the complex financial services world that we operate in," he said.

David Cameron's trip to India is the largest trade delegation taken overseas by a prime minister.

Among the party of more than 100 joining Mr Cameron on his second visit to India as PM were representatives of major firms such as Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and BP, small businesses, universities, football's Premier League, and the London Underground.

Mr Cameron said he wants to use the three-day visit, during which he will meet prime minister Manmohan Singh and president Pranab Mukherjee, to forge closer links between UK business and one of the world's fastest-growing economies, and to make their partnership "one of the defining relationships of this century". Mr Cameron appeared to indicate that he is planning to relax visa requirements to attract Indian business visitors to the UK.

Asked about business concerns over the difficulty of obtaining UK visas, Mr Cameron told the Hindustan Times: "I think there's more we can do here and that's an area where I hope we can put an even more attractive offer on the table during this trip."

The PM will also confirm plans for a new pan-India network of British business centres, due to open by 2017, backed by £8m of Government money, and is expecting deals to be sealed with Indian investors which will create more than 500 new jobs and safeguard 2,000 more in the UK.

But he is also hoping to get to know India better, telling the Hindustan Times he intends to sample some curries and catch some Bollywood movies during his flights.

Belfast Telegraph