There is no doubt that Belfast has firmly established itself as a world leading tech hub. In 2017, the turnover by digital tech businesses was £875m and it is estimated that Belfast now has over 1200 tech companies. An eclectic mix of global tech firms that celebrate great technology now work in proximity. We’re proud to have helped usher in this new era of innovation that has brought a whole new identity to a city that we love. Here, our Head Of Finance, David McKeown, highlights distinct advantages to being based in the Belfast region.
Belfast was the first European region to have 100% broadband and ranks 4th worldwide for connectivity amongst mid-sized cities. This unprecedented level of connectivity provides extra capacity and reliability to Belfast’s growing tech hub. It also means Made to Engage is well-placed to push the frontiers on designing for connected devices. It empowers us to create ever smarter solutions for our clients, which include Ireland's top energy supplier Viridian Group.
We have access to great talent in Belfast to leverage and help our clients achieve their aims. Belfast has one of the most youthful populations in Europe, with 53 per cent of people under 40. And it isn’t just young but well-educated. Our office is in close proximity to Queen’s University and the University Of Ulster, both of which rank highly for software engineering degrees.
We employ young tech talent before they move to London or Dublin through our Graduate Academy and our staff who have done the journey give back the benefits of their experience. Due to its happy, healthy lifestyle - Belfast is ranked above LA, Hong Kong and Dubai in the Mercer Quality Of Living City list - the city is attracting, not just developer talent, but CTOs from around the world. Our own CTO Stephen Anderson is originally from South Africa and leads our technical team in Belfast.
The Linen Quarter’s awe-inspiring Victorian warehouses set the stage for transformative digital experiences. Our workspace at Flax House, a converted mill, allows us to put our iterative design process on full display when welcoming clients. While designed for collaboration, the space has flexibility and allows for lock-and-key privacy with enclosed offices and screens. Both collaboration and privacy are important in the tech industry and Belfast's spacious architectural gems are perfect for optimal delivery of major tech projects.
The tech cluster in the Linen Quarter has a shared sense of innovation. Literally steps from our door on Adelaide Street is US cyber-security leader WhiteHat Security and Fin Tech firm First Derivatives is a stone’s throw away. Just up the road is the BBC’s HQ at Broadcasting House which is undergoing a £77m transformation into a ‘technology centre of excellence’ so it can continue to produce high quality shows like Line Of Duty. We’re proud to be amongst businesses that share our focus on delivering excellence to clients.
Belfast is strategically located between the US, UK and Europe. There are three international airports within 90 minutes drive from our office, London is an hour away by air and there are daily flights to key business destinations like Paris. What’s more, the Linen Quarter is ideally located for our EMEA-based clients. Made to Engage lies adjacent to a proposed £100m Belfast Transport Hub at Great Victoria Street which will become the main hub for trains and buses in years ahead, so we can meet and exceed future client needs.
Belfast has a strong pro-business climate and is the world’s most business-friendly mid-sized city according to the Financial Times. It also ranked second, ahead of New York, for attracting overseas investment. Recently, we invested our capabilities in crafting an experience, with our partner Discover NI, that showcased Belfast to property developers at MIPIM in Cannes. Our touchscreen map secured huge support for Belfast with over £1bn expected over the next 15 years. We’re proud to have helped make the region a beacon for world-class investment.
The Linen Quarter is one of five special priority areas in Belfast's city centre regeneration strategy. Belfast City Council is keen to drive growth whole also maintaining the area's heritage. It is great to see the energy and vibrancy that restoring these areas is bringing not just to the region, but to the people that work within it. We can see that energy spill over into our team's approach to dealing with daily challenges to deliver special solutions for our customers.
As we evolve towards solving ever more complex problems for clients, we look forward to growing partnerships and seeing what great work comes out of the Belfast region. Now that the tech cluster here is increasing its pace, we can see that there is a great future ahead for Belfast.