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Northern Ireland – a compelling destination for foreign investment

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Northern Ireland – a compelling destination for foreign investment


What does the ideal investment destination look like to you? One with low costs, a strong talent pipeline, a high quality of infrastructure, access to international markets – and an all-around great place to live, right?

That’s the promise of Northern Ireland to you.

Uniquely positioned between the European continent and North America, the country presents an incredible offer to all – students, businesses, startups, technology firms and more. The statistics make that incredibly clear.

Almost 1,200 international companies have invested in Northern Ireland. Over 70% of new inward investors in the country reinvest. Not one, but two world-class universities – Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University – are found there. Operating costs are 30% lower than in other locations in the UK and Europe. Corporation tax is the second lowest in Western Europe at 19%.

What is it about Northern Ireland that has made it an investment destination for global companies from Citi to Fujitsu, from Microsoft to Airbus? Belfast is the world’s most Business-friendly city of its size. Its high-quality universities routinely deliver a remarkable caliber of talent year in and year out. With three airports, a modern road and rail network, and a 100 gigabyte per second telecoms link with Europe and North America, Northern Ireland acts as the natural bridge between these two titanic markets.

But it’s not just the country’s robust infrastructure that makes it a hotbed for investment. From technology to film production, the country has a plethora of vibrant and thriving industries.

Take its Life and Health Sciences cluster. Cutting-edge research is taking place across the country at the vanguard of precision medicine, Medtech, and clinical trials. An example is the £10 million Precision Medicine Center of Excellence based in Belfast, a collaboration between Invest NI, the country’s economic development agency, and Queen’s University Belfast. The center is pushing the envelope in what is possible in the precision medicine space, developing an internationally-accredited laboratory focused on diagnostics that can predict how a cancer patient will respond to treatment.

Neurovalence is another example. A MedTech startup, the company created a headset which delivers tiny electric pulses to the brain, providing a cost-effective alternative treatment to diabetes and obesity. It’s this type of innovation that is at the heart of the country, making it attractive to investors the world over.

Through that innovation, many startups have been founded in Northern Ireland, creating a remarkable array of international success stories. FD Technologies is one of those startups. Despite its humble origins of having been started in a spare bedroom in 1996, it has grown into a global software company with operations across the globe.

Or take Stat Sports. Based out of Newry, the startup provides real-time sports data for coaches to assess, whether on the field or during a training session. It allows managers to understand the health of individual players and the strategies of the overall team.

The company has built up an impressive roster of global sporting brands – from Arsenal Football Club, Western Michigan University’s American football team – and, of course, the Indian national cricket team.

If you were in any doubt about the innovation present in Northern Ireland, the rankings clearly demonstrate the country’s standing. It is one of the Financial Times fDi Intelligence’s Top 15 Digital Economies of the Future. It’s the leading destination city globally for US investment in cybersecurity development. Belfast is Europe’s leading FDI destination for new software development. The country is the world’s top region for fintech inward investment. Thanks to its diversity of talent, its advanced digital infrastructure, and its unique partnership between academia and businesses, the country’s technological ecosystem is one of the world’s most cutting-edge.

But that’s not all. It is a thriving global production center for award-winning film and television.

If you traveled to Westeros for HBO’s epic fantasy television series, Game of Thrones®, then you traveled to Northern Ireland. Significant amounts of the show were filmed across the country. Additionally, Universal Pictures, Disney, and the BBC have all chosen Northern Ireland as a center for production.

The stunning scenery hasn’t just attracted film crews. Northern Ireland’s landscape makes it a great place to live. Aside from the country’s magnificent views, its low crime rate, world-class healthcare, excellent schools, and historical landmarks make it a fantastic place to call home. Research indicates that people in the country are the happiest in the UK.

India is marching forward to be a global leader. For businesses across the subcontinent, the opportunity is ripe for importing world-class services from Northern Ireland. And, for those businesses in India looking to build their offering into global markets, there are few places as attractive – from a cost, talent, innovation, or liveability standpoint – as Northern Ireland.

This article has been contributed by Saikiran Vedula, Regional Manager – India at Invest NI.

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