Theresa Villiers visited 2 of Northern Ireland's premier enterprises to hear about their important contribution to the UK and local economy
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP visited the Northern Ireland Science Park (NISP) and Titanic Belfast Visitors Centre this morning (25 July).
NISP was established in March 1999 to provide rented office space and facilities for knowledge-based enterprises, both large and small. It is now one of the top 5 science parks in the UK and its 119 tenants contribute £80m in wages to the local economy.
A recent report by Oxford Economics found that the sector accounts for 4.6% of total employment in Northern Ireland. There are 2,000 technology businesses in Northern Ireland, which currently employ 30,000 people directly and support 27,000 other jobs.
On her tour of Titanic Belfast, the Secretary of State travelled back to Boom Town Belfast to hear about the ship yard and the launch, fit-out, maiden voyage and re-discovery of the Titanic.
Since opening in March 2012, Titanic Belfast has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland with 807,340 people visiting during the first year - including 471,700 from outside Northern Ireland. It is estimated that this direct tourism expenditure is worth £54.3 million to the Northern Ireland economy.
Speaking after her visit, the Secretary of State said:
Both Titanic Belfast and the Northern Ireland Science Park are playing an important role in boosting the economy and equipping Northern Ireland to compete in the global race for investment and jobs.
Titanic Belfast is already internationally recognised as a must-see destination for visitors to the island of Ireland. It firmly establishes Belfast as the home of the Titanic and demonstrates the city’s links to its maritime and industrial past.
The Science Park is a fantastic example of Northern Ireland’s success in attracting and developing the sort of high tech industry that will help rebalance our economy. I was pleased to hear about plans to develop the Park and encourage further investment in the knowledge-based economy here. It is estimated that a knowledge economy worker will earn a wage premium of 42% above the Northern Ireland mean wage and we want to bring more of these jobs here.
Northern Ireland has a highly skilled workforce, excellent communications infrastructure and a growing reputation as an attractive destination for foreign investment, so much so that in the past year foreign direct investment in the region has increased by 41%.
These two successful enterprises show that Northern Ireland is open for business and that the foundations are in place for a vibrant and dynamic economy.