CW Developer Network

Aug 30 2012   4:48AM GMT

Northern Ireland’s secret IT bubble

Adrian Bridgwater Adrian Bridgwater Profile: Adrian Bridgwater


Could Northern Ireland be the next technology bubble about to rise upward and command global attention creating jobs and innovation?

Forget Silicon Glen (Glenrothes, Scotland etc), Silicon Fen (Cambridge, England) and even Silicon Valley or Roundabout — the UK’s smallest province could soon be known as Silicon Belfast (OK, it’s not very catchy) or Béal Feirste to use the Irish.

Economic newswires suggest that the Northern Ireland economy has benefited from major investment by many large multi-national corporations into high tech industry over the last few years.

Companies are attracted by government subsidies, a skilled workforce and (presumably) the promise of an occasional ‘Ulster Fry’ breakfast.

In fact, Queen’s University Belfast is widely famed as the home of the Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC) and forms one of the primary links between academic research and industry.

But in terms of tech companies actually operating in the country today, there are many to choose from.

Northern Irish Tech Selection Pack

In MOBILE: Jampot’s AppBuilder product promises to allow any user to create a mobile application in minutes. With the recent release of its Android update, users of TheAppBuilder can now build a cross-platform native app for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, as well as a HTML5 version for use on all HTML5 compatible devices.

In BUSINESS PRODUCTIVITY: SophiaSearch is a new player in the “contextually aware” enterprise search solutions market.

In SOCIAL MEDIA: RepKnight has developed a product geared around on sentiment analysis and social media analytics.

In NETWORKS: Aepona is among the best-known local companies currently developing software products including NaaS / APIs for mobile etc.

In EDUCATION: Learning Pool is NI’s fastest tech growing company according to Deloitte.

In BUSINESS SERVICES: MailDistiller are based in the Science Park. Their email platform is all based around original software.

… and the list doesn’t stop there.

This note is merely meant to whet your appetite and show you that Northern Ireland may soon be famous for new inventions and innovations in the tech sector.

So the most famous Northern Irish invention to date then?

In 1887 John Boyd Dunlop developed the first practical pneumatic or inflatable tyre for his son’s tricycle and tested it in Cherryvale sports ground, South Belfast and patented it on 7 December 1888.


6  Comments on this Post

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  • David Crozier
    Adrian, It's certainly true to say that the technology landscape here in Northern Ireland is, and has been, developing and delivering on the world stage for a number of years now. The companies listed above really only scratch the surface of activity here. In addition to the QUB NITC already mentioned I am based in the university's Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT). The ECIT Institute, est. 2004, employing 180 people, is the 4000 sqm purpose built research and innovation flagship of the Northern Ireland Science Park. ECIT is focused on economic impact, with proven experience in bringing research excellence through the 'valley of death' and creating new innovative products and services. ECIT houses the £30m Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT). CSIT is an Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC). It is the UKs largest university cyber security research lab, and is acknowledged by GCHQ as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research. CSIT harbours world leading capability and research excellence in cloud computing, capital markets engineering, Smart Grid, Cyber Security, Big Data analytics and we manage four technology clusters in Data Security Systems, Network Security Systems, Wireless Enabled Systems and Intelligent Surveillance Systems. Research and Development and Innovation collaborative programs are shaped by Member Companies (including BAE Systems, Thales, Q1 Labs, IBM, Altera, Cisco, McAfee, Intel) and government stakeholders (including DSTL, GCHQ, CESG, CPNI). Member Companies commit to inform CSIT research roadmaps and access CSIT technology for commercial exploitation. Our research roadmaps are also shaped by group edited strategies developed at the annual World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit held here at CSIT - More information on CSIT and our spin-out companies is available on our website here: I would love to show you around the next time you are in Belfast. Best regards, David Crozier Technical Marketing Manager - ECIT and CSIT
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  • Martin Malseed
    It is quite amazing to notice what is happenning in Northern Ireland .There are lots of great mentors helping the less experienced get on the road .I spend my time trying to show the limited companies about how they are not fully claiming the government backed HM Revenue & Customs tax credits relief for innovation.There is an estimated amount of over £5M unclaimed in NI each year .Sadly it gets lost between innovators not knowing the legislation and tax advisers not understanding the technology. I found a hybrid tax R&D claim specialist who encouraged me to take on NI.They only employ highly qualified (some to PhD Level) scientists who are trained for months in tax legislation and get 3.9 times more than traditional claims. They are called Martin Malseed
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  • Ben Bland
    I moved to Northern Ireland from the London digital media scene two years ago and now, for disclosure, I'm working the Northern Ireland Science Park and others at the centre of the innovation community here. What was first put to me as a potential concern: the smallness and intimacy of local industry, has proved to be one of our greatest assets here. We are blessed by an ease of networking and potential for collaboration that would be very hard to mirror in larger regions or major cities. Add to that a significant set of world-class skills and IP, some of which has been described already here, with the financial (eg. tax breaks, cheap rent, etc.) and policy advantages in the region... and an exceptional fibre-optic infrastructure under our feet... and it seems the region has high leverage for its size. It's worth adding that on the last weekend of September we're pulling together a showcase of the biggest, newest and hottest tech properties from around NI, to demonstrate what's going on here. I'd be happy to share the outcomes of that with anyone.
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  • Steven McIntyre
    As a recent IT graduate here in Northern Ireland it really is fantastic to see the technology sector booming in this small country. We clearly have the talent to support such investments. And it's not just in Belfast that this is taking place - Derry / Londonderry is delivering great new digital start-ups (as showcased during the recent culture tech festival)
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  • SarahMaildistiller
    Hi Adrian, Thanks again for the mention of Maildistiller in your article! The tech industry in Northern Ireland is definitely a space to watch and has gained widespread recognition in recent years as a hub for innovation. With buckets of talent, opportunity and countless incentives for both existing businesses and start-ups the NI tech industry can and will continue to grow. We are proud to be part of this ever-expanding community. Sarah-Louise @Md_SarahLouise
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  • alvachristi
    Jampot's AppBuilder is great will help to allow any user to create a mobile application in minutes. TheAppBuilder can now build a cross-platform native app for any platform like iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone and HTML 5 as well.
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