Belfast Telegraph

Start-ups driving Northern Ireland tech successes, says Microsoft man

By John Mulgrew

Northern Ireland's burgeoning tech sector is growing because of a host of strong young firms, a senior Microsoft executive has said.

Michael Meagher, who leads the company's BizSpark scheme and who will judge the pitch stage at the Icons Festival in Belfast this week, told how there was a strong tech and software development scene in the city.

He added: "I run the start-up programme, and my main job is working with software vendors in Ireland. (It's about finding) anyone who develops software, finding opportunities, building on those and scaling globally.

"There are a lot of big companies here. And there is a fairly strong development scene in Belfast. People with great ideas will spin out of those companies.

"We are starting to see a movement towards that, and the Icons Festival will showcase those.

"We have offices in Belfast. From my perspective, I spend one to two days a month in Belfast, and that will increase.

"It's being able to get down on the street and working with the people. I would see it as a bigger opportunity than it would have been a few years ago.

"We are seeing some great companies building some great solutions."

Looking ahead to judging the awards at the technology festival on Friday, Michael said that every good business started "with a great idea".

He added: "Then, it's about seeing how we can help them and building a long-term relationship. We would like to see companies scale out of Ireland and become a great success."

The winner of the festival's BizSpark Plus programme will receive up to £79,000 of Microsoft cloud services.

Icons Festival chief Aaron Taylor said applications for the programme included "everything from robotics, to wearables, cloud services and big data".

Hip-hop legend Chuck D is among the speakers at Icons tomorrow. The festival continues until Sunday.

Belfast Telegraph