Blog Post - Belfast – UK tech hub where revenues rose 12% year on year

JLL is immensely proud to have partnered with Tech Nation to launch its annual research report, Tech Nation 2018, in Belfast this week.

July 26, 2018

Digital start-ups need local talent and the chance to share ideas with entrepreneurs, and we are seeing these vital relationships thrive in Belfast.

The city's colleges and universities are producing the skilled workers the industry needs and firms can network and learn from their peers, creating a landscape that encourages start-ups. In 2017 digital tech firms based in the city posted revenues of £875m - an impressive increase of 12% on the previous year.

TV show Game of Thrones is filmed in the city and this association, together with Belfast's vibrant cultural offer and lower living costs, makes it an attractive place for graduates to live, according to the Tech Nation 2018 report.

Belfast's ability to attract start-ups has helped to fuel a 143% increase in the number of new digital businesses in the city between 2011 and 2016.

These start-ups need workplaces like Ormeau Baths, a co-working space and tech community, which opened in July last year, to allow them to form the kind of networks they need to grow. Working alongside peers allows these businesses to link into the funding and networks they need to share ideas and scale-up.

Firms based in Belfast include A1 and data modelling firm Sensum. While, thanks to support from Northern Ireland Screen, a burgeoning film and animation scene in developing, with new players including Enter Yes.

Tech Nation is a national network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs and its latest report shows the sector already employs almost 9,000 people locally. The report brings together analysis of official statistics, as well as a survey of over 3,400 people working in the tech sector nationwide.

It highlights how Belfast's tech sector is bullish about its prospects, with 92% believing the number of businesses will rise in the next 12 months.

Respondents say the area's strengths include its quality of life. While, 92% of those who took part were positive about the quality of schools and training for young people. However, concerns were raised about the ability to recruit skilled workers and access finance.

As we move forward there is a huge opportunity to harness Belfast's creativity and scale-up these businesses as the city's tech sector becomes more established.

This article was written by Neill McNicholas – Surveyor JLL