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Belfast’s Ormeau Baths announces expansion plans

  • The shared working space will double its size over the next 12 months. 

    The Ormeau Baths innovation space in Belfast today announced expansion plans that will see it double in size by taking the second half of the former Victorian Bathhouse building in which it opened just over 12 months ago.

    Ormeau Baths is an entrepreneurial workspace that supports the brightest and best indigenous tech start-ups and helps them gain access to the networks, funding, and expertise needed to succeed in global markets.

    The expansion, which represents an investment of almost £1m, will create more flexible spaces for growing tech businesses and allow Ormeau Baths to support start-ups who have previously outgrown the co-working space for longer.

    Since opening just over a year ago, Ormeau Baths has had more than 16,000 people pass through and attend over 500 events held in their purpose-built event space, ranging from white hat hacker gatherings to product tank meet-ups and pitch contests.

    During the first year Ormeau Baths has seen over 50 percent of their companies grow their teams or revenues and between them they have raised over £10m in venture funding. Ormeau Bath success stories include Modius creators Neurovalens and consultancy White Space Ventures, both of whom have subsequently gone on to expand and relocate into their own offices.

    As he announced the development of a further 8,000 sq ft of space in the Ormeau Baths building that was previously occupied by the NHS, co-founder Steve Pette said the decision to expand was based on the desire to help support more start-up companies as they scale up by enabling them to take more space or have their own dedicated offices within the Ormeau Baths community.

    Steve said: “When we opened Ormeau Baths the vision was to create a genuine start-up community and a hub that could become the beating heart of Belfast’s tech community for the growing number of start-ups currently being founded and scaling up across the city.

    “We originally envisaged Ormeau Baths becoming the natural home for tech meet ups, hackathons and pitch events where early stage and advanced start-ups could learn from one another, gain access to corporates and attract potential investors. This has certainly happened beyond our wildest dreams and we are incredibly excited about what the next phase will bring.”

    Jon Bradford, co-founder of Ormeau Baths added: “Northern Ireland and Belfast has repeatedly demonstrated that it can compete head-on with any other community in the UK and beyond. In what has been a very short period of time, the tech community has embraced Ormeau Baths and has become a permanent venue at the centre of this thriving sector. Our expansion will create more opportunities to support more businesses and job creation in this knowledge economy.”

    The Baths officially opened its doors in July 2017 alongside its major corporate partner Barclays, which has established its first Eagle Lab in Belfast in the new technology hub, and other strategic partners, including early stage investment fund TechstartNI. In addition to the businesses that have chosen it as their base, Ormeau Baths has also become home to the companies taking part in the Ignite NI Accelerator and the Invest NI-backed Propel programme for start-ups.

    Ormeau Baths has been boosted by the backing of a number of high-profile members of the Irish tech diaspora, including Sarah Friar of Square and David Singleton of Stripe. The support of this founding member group reflects their belief in the resurgence of Belfast as a melting pot of high potential entrepreneurial talent.

    Co-founder Mark Dowds said: “Ormeau Baths has from the outset been about looking outwards to what’s possible. What we’ve seen in our first year is a positive reflection of the very real sense of excitement and ambition in Belfast at the moment and a growing sense of confidence in what can be achieved by the tech founders and established businesses here who already have customers and investors from around the world.

    “We’ve received fantastic support from a number of high achieving tech exiles who want to put something back into home and we would love to connect with others who now call London, New York, San Francisco or other global cities home.”

    RELATED: Steve Pette from Ormeau Baths on Belfast's renaissance, serendipity and the power of creating your own future

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