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Northern Ireland at a glance

Invest NI

Skilled workforce

Northern Ireland’s reputation as a key European inward investment location is underpinned by a high calibre, cost-competitive workforce.

The region’s population of 1.8 million is one of Europe’s youngest and fastest growing with 53 per cent of the population under the age of 40.

There is an enthusiastic and steady stream of smart, talented people for knowledge-based companies seeking a strong workforce.

Our investors tell us that labour turnover is very low.

The country’s education system has long been recognised as among the best in Europe.

Nearly a fifth of public expenditure is on education and Northern Ireland consistently outperforms all other UK regions in academic qualifications.

Two world-class universities and an extensive network of further education colleges provide excellent academic and vocational training. Both universities are responsive to business, creating graduates with skills, competency and acumen in business-relevant areas. Over 4,000* people graduate each year with business qualifications in Northern Ireland.

Transport

The first-rate road network has minimal levels of congestion and brings most of Europe within 24-48 hours. Three airports deal with almost seven million passengers a year. Belfast International Airport runs daily scheduled flights to destinations such as London, Paris and Amsterdam.

The region boasts four ports – Belfast Harbour, Foyle Port, Warrenpoint Harbour and Larne Harbour. Belfast Harbour is the second busiest port on the island of Ireland and along with the ports at Larne and Warrenpoint provides over 160 ferry and freight sailings per week to Great Britain and Europe.

Communications

Northern Ireland’s communications infrastructure is renowned as state-of-the-art. It enjoys international connectivity at a very competitive cost.

The region also has a track record of staying at the forefront of communications technology. It became the first region in Europe to achieve 100 per cent broadband coverage and one of the first to operate and experience high speed, next generation services with a 100-gigabyte per second transatlantic and terrestrial telecommunications link between Northern Ireland, North America and Europe.

The region provides a fully digital, fully fibre optic communications network. Northern Ireland benefits from its own Internet backbone exchange, and telecoms costs are among the lowest in Europe. Investors have access to a truly leading-edge telecoms infrastructure and a burgeoning telecoms sector. The region’s compact size also makes it an ideal test-bed for new communications technology.

Northern Ireland’s telecoms industry is a highly deregulated and competitive market with over 70 operators. Deregulation means better service and lower costs.

Excellent business-focused universities

Northern Ireland’s internationally renowned universities have been key drivers in the development of the region’s technology and knowledge industries. Queen’s University, and Ulster University have globally recognised research centres across a range of

Northern Ireland provides one of the most cost-efficient business environments in Europe.Salary costs are lower than in the rest of the UK, and around 30 per cent lower than other European locations such as London, Dublin and Paris. Operating costs overall are lower than the rest of the UK and Europe1.

Property

Property costs in Northern Ireland compare very favourably with other regions in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Prime office rents are among the lowest in Western Europe. New, purpose-built and fitted-out office space costs are easily affordable within Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland

As a location, Northern Ireland has exactly what investors are looking for – a workforce that is educated, smart, innovative and results-driven. People who will go the extra mile to make sure your operation is a success. Combine this with a superb infrastructure, competitive costs and excellent support packages and you have the ideal location.

As global legal services and the business of law continue to evolve to meet changing market demands, Northern Ireland has become a centre for new technology enabled delivery models and innovative client solutions. The region offers an exciting range of cost-effective, quality assured response solutions to global firms, sector disruptors and tech innovators, including:

  • Legal and shared services operations, legal process outsourcing and legal technology centres.
  • Building & expanding in-house legal capabilities.
  • Legal technology solutions developed by a globally renowned IT sector.
  • Cutting edge research and specialisms in cyber security, artificial intelligence, analytics and blockchain.

A Proven Location

A compelling combination of cost competitiveness and legal technical excellence has attracted investors such as Citi, Herbert Smith Freehills, Allen & Overy, Axiom Law, and Baker McKenzie. Their technology-enabled, globally-integrated Northern Ireland operations are central to a range of responsive, innovative, alternative solutions for exacting international clients seeking quality-assured, cost-effective legal services.

Mergers and acquisitions of Northern Ireland law firms by national brands such as Shoosmiths, Keystone and Fieldfisher have driven the growth of new teams delivering UK-wide client and firm services.

And Northern Ireland’s legal cluster continues to grow as major legal technology innovators leverage the region’s reputation as a global tech hub and a growing cadre of home-grown, internationally-focused legal tech vendors service top tier firms with a suite of industry specific solutions.

Exceptional Talent

Northern Ireland has a still largely untapped pool of culturally-compatible, highly-educated legal talent seeking quality legal roles in the region.

The region boasts two of the top 20 law schools in the UK (The Guardian 2018).The legal talent pool includes an annual surplus of some 500 law graduates as well as an experienced cadre of professionals who are keen to return and re-locate to the region.

Added to that, a pipeline of almost 3000 talented STEM graduates, and programmes in place to build the next generation of tech-savvy lawyers mean that progressive firms and legal tech entrepreneurs are attracted to the region as a hub of legal innovation. 70% of IT and telecoms professionals hold a higher education qualification – the highest in the UK. Belfast is Europe’s top destination city for new software development mobile investment.

Northern Ireland government, industry and academia have a strong track record of collaboration in the region, to ensure the region’s skills base meets the needs of employers. A range of bespoke government backed initiatives under the region’s Assured Skills guarantee further boosts the talent pool.

Cost Competitiveness

Operating costs are typically 20-30% lower than in the rest of the UK and Europe.

Typical operating costs for a legal services centre in Northern Ireland are around 50% less than London and around 40% less than New York.

Software development labour costs in the region represent a reduction of around 30% compared to London and 25% compared to Dublin and staff attrition rates are consistently low.

Effective R&D costs in Northern Ireland are highly competitive. The combination of attractive incentives mean that for every ÂŁ1 invested in R&D could cost a business as little as 50p.

Northern Ireland has some of the lowest prime office rental costs in Europe – typically 75% less than London and 50% less than Dublin.

Innovative expertise

Both Northern Ireland universities, Queen’s University and Ulster University have globally recognised research centres across a range discipline and have been key drivers in the development of the region’s technology and knowledge industries.

According to the Research Excellence Framework (REF), over 70% of Northern Ireland university research activity is world-leading or internationally excellent. Ground-breaking research from the region in analytics, artificial intelligence and cyber security is commercialised world-wide. Queen’s University is home to the UK’s largest research Centre for Secure IT (CSIT) and both universities are advancing the field of AI with dedicated research groups.

Collaboration is actively promoted in the region.

The Ulster University Legal Innovation Centre – a legal tech research and educational collaboration between the School of Law and the School of Computing- is supported by Allen & Overy and Baker McKenzie. Activity in disruptive technologies is growing. PWC Belfast has the largest group of blockchain specialists in PWC world-wide and Deloitte Belfast is developing 20 blockchain related prototypes.

Government Support Networks

The region has a low risk, pro-business environment with a local government committed to growing the legal cluster in Northern Ireland through:

  • Practical on the ground support from Invest Northern Ireland to facilitate location assessment and the development and implementation of investment plans.
  • Attractive financial incentives to support job creation, training & development and research.
  • Bespoke government-backed skills initiatives for investors under the region’s Assured Skills guarantee.

For more about Northern Ireland visit InvestNI.com

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