Posted on Thursday 3 January 2019 by Ulster Business

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The UK’s digital tech sector has attracted more capital than any other European country and Belfast has established itself as a key hub, writes Roisin Byrne, business director, Hays Northern Ireland

The 2018 Tech Nation report makes it clear that digital tech makes an essential contribution to our local economy with clusters and start-ups forming primarily around AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning, cyber security and big data industries.

The Belfast start-up community ecosystem is alive and well and has carved out a reputation in the wider tech community for having good access to talent, funding and transport links. It also benefits from great workspaces such as Ormeau Baths, Farset Labs and the Innovation Centre at Catalyst Inc.

Indeed, the city is bubbling with entrepreneurial talent as demonstrated by the large number of start-ups which have launched in the last two years. Belfast boasts a disproportionate number of the UK’s high growth firms and it is estimated that the local ecosystem now supports around 10,000 jobs.

Hays has worked with a number of these start-ups as they have scaled up operations – firms such as Analytics Engines, Uleska and Vox to name a few. As part of our commitment to the sector we’ve also taken space in Ormeau Baths which has become an epicentre for tech meet-ups, hackathons and pitch events. It’s also a campus for early stage and growth stage start-ups to network, share experience and build scalable, globally focussed businesses. In its first year, 50% of companies based in Ormeau Baths grew their teams and revenues, and raised over £10m in venture funding.

We’ve also launched a new national initiative called Super Connect delivered by Empact Ventures which aims to help tech start-ups and scale-ups to explore collaboration with large organisations and funding providers through a series of venture labs and pitch days. The initiative brings together corporates, SMEs, angel investors, venture capitalists, grant providers, loan funds and crowdfunding platforms to explore supporting these start-ups and scale-ups. Details can be found at www.superconnectseries.com.

In an increasingly competitive marketplace Hays sees real value in the innovative ideas start-ups are using to network and build traction and as they scale up to the next stage we are providing material support and employer value branding to help them attract the talent they need.

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