Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland sector now employing 9,000, says new report

By Ryan McAleer

The number of people employed in Northern Ireland's digital technology sector rose to almost 9,000 last year, according to a report.

It also suggested that the number of digital businesses started in the region more than doubled between 2011 and 2016.

The data has been produced by Tech Nation ahead of an event tonight in the Ormeau Baths in Belfast. The former art gallery is now a hub for digital start-ups in the city.

Tech Nation describes itself as "the UK network for ambitious entrepreneurs".

It estimates that turnover in the digital sector in and around Belfast reached around £875m last year, with turnover per employee around £98,000.

It said 97 digital tech businesses were launched in Belfast in 2016.

The data will be presented during this evening's event, which will hear from key figures in the tech industry. And it will hear that Belfast's thriving cluster of tech businesses has been driven by its highly skilled and educated population.

Tech Nation said Belfast now has the highest density of fibre broadband in Europe. The organisers said a mix of "low cost of living and great universities and colleges continue to attract startup tech companies to base themselves here".

A panel discussion this evening will be moderated by Tom Gray of Kainos and will include Irene McAleese, co-founder of Newtownards-based See.sense, which uses artificial intelligence to create intelligent bike lights.

Gerard Grech, chief executive at Tech Nation, said: "Belfast is one of the most exciting tech clusters in the country right now, with strong connections to the area's transport manufacturing and service heritage.

"There is a fantastic talent pool here, as well as lower cost of living and our Tech Nation survey showed that the best things about the area are considered access to funding, a helpful tech community and the proximity of large companies."

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.