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Tech sector offers one in four Belfast job opportunities as demand for staff soars

Industry ‘has had a brilliant year’ in the city with start-ups raising £20m

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Investment: Jason McKeown of Neurovalens

Investment: Jason McKeown of Neurovalens

Investment: Jason McKeown of Neurovalens

Belfast’s tech sector is one of the fastest growing in the UK, according to new research.

The new ‘Levelling Up Tech Power League’ revealed tech jobs represent 23% of all available opportunities in the city today and demand for skilled tech workers is up nearly 80% since last year.

The report also said start-ups and scale-ups in technology raised £20m this year, up from £16m in 2020.

Across the UK, the industry raised £26bn in total.

The results were compiled by Dealroom and job engine Adzuna for the Department for Digital’s Digital Economy Council.

The research looks back at 2021 in the sector and puts Belfast in 10th place of all UK cities for growth.

Topping the charts was Cambridge, followed by Manchester, Oxford, Edinburgh, and Bristol.

The research attributed Belfast’s positioning to a combination of high levels of venture capital funding, available tech job opportunities, advertised tech salaries, the number of high-growth tech companies and future high-growth companies.

One such company that has experienced increased investor attention and financial opportunities is Neurovalens, which raised more than £5m to advance medical device approvals of its technology.

The company, which has developed devices such as headsets to treat conditions including diabetes, insomnia, anxiety, and obesity, says the new funding will help create up to 20 jobs over the next two years.

Jason McKeown, chief executive of Neurovalens, said: “As I travel a lot from the US to the Middle East and even to China, I see how the perception of Belfast has positively changed even over the past five to 10 years.

"I think it’s a credit to both Queen’s University and Ulster University, and to Invest NI who have been highlighting how Belfast is a hub of innovation when it comes to digital and electronic technology.

"Add to this the fact that the workforce is extremely talented, and the average wage is a fraction of that in Silicon Valley, and it’s not difficult to understand why more and more global companies are looking at Belfast.”

The businessman said the NI Protocol could prove beneficial for the tech industry too, and further boost its ranking, adding: “Interestingly, whilst Brexit has come with challenges, there is currently an amazing opportunity for medical device and software companies as they can use NI to access the UK and EU markets simultaneously.

"I think this will lead to international companies using NI as their gateway to the European market.”

He added: “Belfast offers very intelligent and hardworking people who are passionate about innovation and technology.

"When you add in the low cost of living, quality of life, and incentives from Invest NI and venture capital funds, it’s really a brilliant place to develop a business.”

The Levelling Up Tech Power League said: “Belfast’s tech sector has had a brilliant year, with start-ups in the city raising £20m in 2021, up from £16m last year. Tech companies including Neurovalens, Cumulus Neuroscience, SaaS fintech Lightyear and healthcare training platform MedAll were amongst the 17 that raised funding in 2021.

“The increase in investment flowing into Belfast has seen a rise in tech hiring in the city as companies compete to find the strongest talent.

"There are 1,400 tech job opportunities in Belfast, a nearly 80% increase from last year’s figures. Now, tech jobs represent 23% of all available opportunities in Belfast,” it said.


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