UK government reveals bounce-back plans to support the tech sector in Northern Ireland

  • The UK government has addressed tech businesses in Northern Ireland, outlining a series of measures to help recovery from the challenges of coronavirus.

    Northern Ireland’s tech sector stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of “Bounce-Back” plans to help firms recover from the challenges of the coronavirus crisis.

    Speaking to business owners at a virtual event this week, the UK Minister for Exports, Graham Stuart, and Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Robin Walker, outlined a series of measures aimed at turning the UK into a global digital powerhouse.

    Around 28,000 people are employed in Northern Ireland’s tech sector, which is worth approximately £1bn, across 1,200 companies, with Belfast becoming Europe’s leading destination city for new software development projects.

    The new measures jointly announced by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) last month, will seek to increase tech exports to fast-growing international markets, including Asia-Pacific, strengthen scale-ups’ readiness to export, and attract investment to drive innovation and create jobs.

    The package includes the creation of a new Digital Trade Network for Asia-Pacific, which will support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to break into the Asian market.

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    The plans also include the launch of a new Tech Exporting Academy, which will provide expert advice to UK scale-ups on subject areas essential to expansion, including regulation, intellectual property, and compliance. The Academy will be led and delivered in partnership with leading professional services firms.

    Northern Ireland is fast becoming a global cyber security hub, delivering expertise on threats to national security, critical infrastructure, capital markets, e-commerce and child safety online.

    The Centre for Secure Information Technology (CSIT), based at Queen’s University Belfast, is the UK’s largest cyber security research centre.

    In addition, its creative and digital media sector has a wide range of talent and state-of-the-art technology, hosting a dynamic cluster of companies who are working with global clients within animation, audio technology, mobile content and e-learning.

    "I welcome these bounce-back measures from the UK Government, which will assist Northern Ireland’s tech sector push forward the economic recovery," said Northern Ireland Minister for the Economy, Diane Dodds. "The tech sector is a cornerstone of the NI economy. I am keen to build on the success that companies in the sector have had, and continue to have, propelled by our world class skills and innovation ecosystem.

    "Central to this aim is the ability to access key markets such as Asia Pacific, as well as marketing of the world-class tech services that NI companies can deliver. These measures will provide valuable advice and support for our tech firms as they look to compete globally in the current economic climate."

    Andrew Jenkins, Fintech Envoy for Northern Ireland, also welcomed the news, commenting: “This announcement of bounce-back measures by the UK Government is fantastic and will be hugely beneficial to the whole tech sector in Northern Ireland particularly. Our vibrant tech sector which employs 28,000 people in Northern Ireland has firmly positioned itself as global excellence hub.

    "The range of measures announced which seek to increase tech exports to fast-growing international markets, including Asia-Pacific, strengthen scale-ups’ readiness to export, and attract investment to drive innovation and create jobs, will allow the sector to confidently move through the economic recovery phase coming out the other end much stronger.”

    “In terms of our fintech offering, Northern Ireland has shown itself to be adept in attracting international investment. The plans for a fintech campaign including promoting UK fintech companies who enable digitisation and resilience in priority export markets is brilliant and will ensure we remain the best place to start, scale and internationalise a fintech business.”

    Source: written based on press release

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