Solaform have been listed amongst the top 10 tech companies to come out of Belfast in 2014. In particular for SolaCatcher, a patented low-cost solar water-heating system. We’re very humble to have made the list.
Less than a decade ago, the patch of land in Belfast harbour formerly known as Queen’s Island was a wasteland. The shipyards that built the Titanic had fallen into decline. Today, rebranded the Titanic Quarter, it is the focus of a £7bn regeneration project that has yielded a Titanic-themed visitor centre, a college campus and one of Europe’s largest film studios.
The island is also home to a new generation of tech innovators. At the Northern Ireland Science Park, more than 110 companies, from software developers to aerospace engineers, are working to re-establish Belfast as a centre of scientific and technological excellence.
According to a recent report, Northern Ireland’s knowledge economy is growing nearly three times faster than the rest of the UK. A few years ago, Belfast had no recognisable startup scene, but the tech community has passionate advocates in groups such as Digital Circle (see below) and the University of Ulster’s Office of Innovation. Belfast now has meet-ups and coding groups, hackerspaces (such asthe excellent Farset Labs) and a credible angel investor network, Halo, based in the science park. It seems that graduates pouring out of Queens and the University of Ulster are finding new incentives to stick around. “Belfast is good for young people,” says Mary McKenna, CEO of Learning Pool and current chair of Digital Circle. “It has a lively social scene, costs are lower, there’s space, it’s well connected. If I were starting a tech business today, I’d start it here.”