Northern Ireland may be among the smallest regions of the U.K. and Europe, but it has a vibrant business scene and is experiencing increasing success in global markets. With a population of around 1.8 million people, around 55% of whom are under the age of 40, it is one of best educated regions in Europe.
Although part of the U.K., Northern Ireland has its own locally-elected government committed to economic growth through advancing entrepreneurship, innovation, and international exchanges. Northern Ireland is home to two universities, Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University. Both are recognized as research focused and industry linked and they sit within an overall education system that produces students with consistently higher grades than other parts of the U.K. In fact, a fifth of all public expenditure is on education.
Northern Ireland’s reputation as a compelling investment proposition is underpinned by a high caliber, cost effective labor force. For example, 70% of IT and telecoms professionals in Northern Ireland have a higher education level qualifi cation, compared to the U.K. average of 62%. Employee turnover and absenteeism are among the lowest in Europe. This is coupled with lower costs. Operating costs in Northern Ireland are highly competitive – significantly lower than the U.K. average and much of Western Europe. Prime office rents are also among the lowest in the world.
Superb telecommunications and a hub for several major airlines mean that Northern Ireland is also within easy reach of the huge European marketplace, making it an ideal nearshore location for businesses. It is hardly surprising that Northern Ireland has attracted major projects from investors in technology, software, financial, and knowledge process outsourcing from the U.S. and Europe.
Recent years have seen a significant change in the types of new projects locating in Northern Ireland. Whilst established long-term investors like Bombardier Aerospace, Caterpillar, and Seagate continue to thrive and grow, new inward investors are now mainly in the innovation-based sectors of internationally traded services, particularly financial services, business and professional services, and technology.
FINANCIAL SERVICES TECHNOLOGY
Northern Ireland has become a magnet for the financial sector. According to the Financial Times FDI Benchmark, Belfast is #1 destination globally for financial technology investments. Global institutions in banking, insurance, asset management, and capital markets, including Citi, the Allstate Corp, First Derivatives, and Liberty Mutual, are investing and expanding in the region.
Fund administrators Augentius and Heritage have joined Lloyds, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, SR Labs, Mercer, and Cowen International in opening technology and operations hubs in Belfast. Established professional services firms like KPMG, Deloitte, PwC, and Capita are delivering technology and business intelligence analytics to the sector internationally using their Northern Ireland centers.
All are attracted by the wealth of talent and expertise, abundant enough to deliver the entire spectrum of activities: software development, technology support, risk management, quantitative modelling, operations and compliance. These activities are backed by strong capability in related professional solutions such as tax, audit, accounting, corporate intelligence, and legal services.
Northern Ireland has built an international reputation for trading technology, data analytics, predictive modelling, software development, and cyber security. Clusters of excellence flourish in insurance, asset management, and capital markets. Northern Ireland is enjoying a growing reputation as a location for professional services, having seen inward investment in legal process outsourcing, funds accounting and other professional services.
A number of investments in recent years have helped reinforce the region’s reputation as a choice location for professional middle and back office services. Companies including Baker & McKenzie, Allen & Overy, and Herbert Smith Freehills, as well as Citi and Axiom have established legal services operations in Northern Ireland. They have been drawn by a number of factors that make it a sustainable onshore location for the delivery of legal services not least the region’s quality and quantity of untapped legal talent. Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University are both offi cially ranked in the top 15 U.K. law schools and, because law and related legal vocations are highly regarded, the pipeline of legal talent is secure.
A transatlantic submarine optical fiber link provides 40-gigabyte per second communications to North America and continental Europe. This provides secure, reliable service and delivers prices up to 20% below market rates in London, Dublin, Manchester, and Glasgow. The region also benefits from having a fully digital, fully fiber optic network.
As cost, quality and high bandwidth communications become even more important issues in professional middle and back office services, Northern Ireland is well placed to capitalize on its growing reputation as a trusted location for international firms.
For U.K. and U.S. partners, Northern Ireland speaks the same language in numerous ways. And the region is well connected, with Dublin, the U.S. and London all easily accessible.
Above all, government, business, and academia work closely to support success; together creating a dynamic pro-business climate and ensuring Northern Ireland offers a nearshore solution with all the right answers.
For more information visit: investni.com/invest or telephone:
Invest Northern Ireland
Tel: +44 (0) 207 222 0599
Tel: +1 617-425-5516