THE number of new technology companies being set up in the Northern Ireland grew by nearly a third last year – higher that any other region of the UK apart from the north west of England.
There were 160 software development and programming businesses incorporated in 2018, a 28 per cent increase on the 125 companies set up in the previous year, according to analysis by RSM.
The figures come within days of Silicon Valley firm Signifyd, which makes software that helps online retailers detect fraud, confirming that it is creating 150 jobs in Belfast at a global research and development centre at River House in the city centre.
Tech firm incorporations grew across every region in the UK with the exception of Scotland, where the number of start-ups dipped by four per cent, and in the north east where the numbers remained flat.
Richard Gardiner, RSM’s Belfast office managing partner, said: ‘”Given the current economic uncertainty, it’s great to see Northern Irish tech start-ups have continued their upward trajectory.
“It shows that entrepreneurs are continuing to innovate. And venture capital, private equity and traditional funders are still lining up to commit funds to the right projects.
“A combination of a thriving tech ecosystem and tax incentives such as the Enterprise Investment Scheme, R&D tax credits, video games tax relief and the Patent Box regime are all playing their part in helping to fuel this growth.”
He added: “The challenge for start-ups, particularly in the tech space is to develop at speed and to scale-up fast.
“There can be a high rate of failures as projects can often get overtaken by new technological innovations or better resourced competitors. But get the formula right, find the right backers and success can be very lucrative.”
To support the growth ambitions of successful UK tech-based scale-ups, RSM has announced a partnership with Upscale 4.0, a six-month accelerator programme delivered by Tech Nation.
RSM will work with Tech Nation to offer its latest cohort of 30 companies access to its expertise and experience in a bid to assist the next phase of their growth ambitions.