A £2million grant that helped establish the Innovation Centre at the Northern Ireland Science Park (NISP) in Belfast was hailed today as one of the International Fund for Ireland’s ‘most important investments’.
Awarded in 2002 with 12-year reporting conditions, the capital grant was part of a funding package that also included £25m provided by Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
It enabled NISP to secure additional funding for the purchase and development of the now-successful business hub and complete it to the scale and standard required.
Opened in 2003, the award-winning centre helped kick-start a 10-year regeneration programme that has transformed Belfast’s derelict shipping heartland into a vibrant area that continues to nurture innovative local ideas, draw significant overseas investment and wow tourists.
Dr Adrian Johnston, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland said:
“The success of the Innovation Centre and the Northern Ireland Science Park is a part of our legacy that we are very proud of. The Fund saw the grant as an investment that would support economic and social advance. While we recognised its early potential, but could only hope that it would go on to become such a powerful catalyst for new opportunities in Belfast and across Northern Ireland. In terms of the return made, it is one of the most important investments the Fund has made.
“Prosperity and peace are linked and our focus today is on addressing sensitive elements within communities, particularly with young people facing limited opportunities. It is an area the NISP has also identified as a priority and is delivering excellent projects that give young people a chance to gain skills and experiences. It is hugely rewarding to know that our initial investment is continuing to bear fruit that supports our goals and I believe other regions emerging from division can benefit from the lessons of NISP’s success. We congratulate Dr Apsley and his team on the major achievements made in the last 10 years including the development of the new North West campus.”
Operating at near-full capacity, the Innovation Centre’s occupants avail of all-purpose work-spaces that can accommodate wet labs and desk-based work. The facility is home to a mix of indigenous businesses including food diagnostics specialist XenoSense, software firm Meridio and inward investors such as Microsoft, which based its first Northern Ireland office in The Centre.
Dr Norman Apsley, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Science Park said:
“Since 2003, we have exceeded our objective to be a commercial and research-driven centre for knowledge based industries, currently housing 120 tenant companies generating more than 2,200 jobs.
“As an economic driver, our impact on business (whether this is indigenous companies or foreign direct investment) and academia (including the education sector and university research) alike, has been universally lauded. This would have been impossible without the backing, support and finance from the International Fund for Ireland.
“As a dynamic innovative environment, we are continually striving to meet the needs of the ever changing knowledge economy, to ensure that the Science Park continues to play a crucial role in NI’s economic prosperity.”
Established in 1986, the International Fund for Ireland has committed more than £700m of funding to projects across the island of Ireland.
For further information about our funding programmes, or for information on how to apply for funding, please contact the person(s) or organisation(s) identifed at the end of the relevant programme summary in the areas of activity section.
International Fund for Ireland
28-32 Alfred St.
+44 (0)28 9031 2884