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Sync NI's five most popular Northern Ireland tech news stories of 2019

  • It’s been a bumper year for the NI Tech sector, and Sync NI has been here to bring you news from across the region. Though most tech and business news does well at Sync NI, a few stories have managed to resonate with people on social media and gained a surprising number of views. As we look back on 2019, here are Sync NI's top five most popular news stories this year by page views:


    #1: NI paper £5 and £10 notes need used by 30th Sept 2019

    This was the year many will remember as the time that polymer bank notes replaced paper in Northern Ireland. Back in September, it was announced that all paper £5 and £10 notes from Bank of Ireland, Danske Bank and Ulster Bank would be withdrawn from circulation in Northern Ireland at the end of that month.

    The new polymer notes had been in circulation since February and were designed to be harder to counterfeit, and the new Ulster Bank notes also garnered some attention for their striking vertical designs. The banks announced that they would exchange the old paper notes for polymer ones, but warned that businesses would no longer be obligated to accept them.

    While Sync NI’s audience is mostly people in the Northern Ireland tech and business sectors or studying for tech careers, every now and then we release a story that resonates with everyone. This story had insane reach on social media, getting almost ten times the number of views that our #2 news post managed.


    #2: Ballymena printing firm invests £300k in hi-tech equipment

    Though much of the NI tech news understandably focuses on the biggest tech firms and the local universities, Sync NI makes an active effort to promote the achievements and investments of the region’s smaller businesses. This goal was definitely validated this year when our second most popular story of the year was about an investment being made by Ballymena-based printing firm Ballyprint.

    Ballyprint became the first company in Northern Ireland to invest in the new Xerox Iridesse Production Press as part of a £300,000 investment in new equipment and plans to hire additional staff. The press gives it an edge in areas such as the wedding stationary market as it can print impressive gold, silver, and coloured metallic effects in a single pass.

    This story caused a minor argument on Facebook when someone made fun of it as news that could be summed up as “company buys a printer,” but it was actually our second most popular story of the year. If your NI-based company is making a significant investment in some cool piece of tech or expanding its technical capabilities, send us a tip using the contact form.


    #3: Belfast rated one of the best UK cities to work in for tech


    Everyone loves to read about how their city ranks on the global stage, and this year we got some good news on that front: A report by Tech Nation made the case that Belfast has now become one of the top cities in the entire UK for tech workers, sitting alongside tech hubs such as London, Manchester, and Reading. Contributing factors included the significantly lower than average cost of living, above-average internet infrastructure, supportive local startup culture, and great quality of life.

    The report showed that over 60,000 people work in Belfast’s tech sector, making Belfast one of just four cities in the UK in which over 10% of people work in the tech sector. Salaries in tech were also shown to be over 17.6% above the city average, due to both emerging tech startups and an influx of global tech firms setting up offices in Belfast to access Northern Ireland's growing pool of tech talent.


    #4: Allstate to open new 850-seat office in Derry

    Allstate NI has been a massive part of the local tech scene throughout 2019, running an impressive number of educational schemes for kids and taking home several industry awards. The firm’s biggest news story this year though was when it announced plans to open a new custom-built 850-seat office in Derry to support staff expansion in the city. This story gained a lot of traction on social media, and was an important reminder that the NI tech scene isn’t all about Belfast.

    Allstate NI’s custom-built Belfast office that opened last year has become a fixture in the Belfast tech scene and brought massive benefits to the company internally, so the news that they planned to do the same in Derry was welcomed. The existing Derry office was already reaching capacity and leaving very little room for expansion, forcing Allstate NI to rent temporary office space for around 100 staff.


    #5: Belfast to host major AI conference on November 28th

    The tech industry has no shortage of conferences, from massive global fairs like AWS: Invent to more local tech events like NI Dev Conf. With local tech companies such as Axial3D and Kainos investing heavily in AI tech this year, Kainos decided to create Northern Ireland’s first ever AI conference with the announcement of AI Con in November. The conference brought in key speakers from Google, Microsoft, and Amazon AWS as well as giving a platform to local tech experts working in the AI field.

    Tech journalist Niamh Campbell attended the event for Sync NI and penned some great follow-up coverage, noting that the event was a definite success. The story announcing it was also by itself one of our most popular articles of the year, showing the hunger that exists in Northern Ireland for more local tech conferences and opportunities for local tech companies to show their talent.

    The event showcased work in the field and introduced some key challenges for the year ahead, and aimed to bring technology creators together with business leaders to bridge the gap between AI tech and business. The conference took a very practical approach to AI to help show business leaders how AI has been actually used to improve businesses and how it could be implemented to solve real problems in their companies.

    About the author

    An article that is attributed to Sync NI Team has either involved multiple authors, written by a contributor or the main body of content is from a press release.

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