Investing in Belfast’s future:
Belfast is a city full of ambition, optimism, and above all opportunity. As a talented, competitive and connected city, it’s the second fastest-growing knowledge economy in the UK, with excellent digital infrastructure and thriving clusters of high growth companies. So, it’s no wonder that 80% of businesses that locate in Belfast choose to re-invest.
Coupling this with Northern Ireland’s unique position in a post-Brexit world through the ability to access both UK and European Union markets, this further enhances our already strong proposition as a prime location to establish, or grow, a business, based on the skills of our labour pool, competitive operating costs and business-friendly environment.
The Belfast Region City Deal is one of the most important recent achievements – a £1 billion co-investment package that is vital for growth. It is estimated that the deal will create up to 20,000 new and better jobs, delivering a 10-year programme to unlock new innovations and R&D pathways whilst ushering in a new era of inclusive economic growth. We have a young and highly educated population, essential to developing the tech sector and fuelling the demand for talent from global companies locating into the region, as well as fast-growing indigenous businesses.
The city provides the unique benefit of dual market access to the UK and EU. For companies looking to serve the UK and EU markets, we are the ideal location. Consequently, the real estate market is experiencing a positive impact with an upswing in interest right across the region.
The growth of online retailing and the escalation of last-mile delivery, is leading to significant demand for logistics and industrial development, increasing the need for further space.
The office market has been the city’s strongest-performing sector since 2015. An imbalance in supply and demand, coupled with high levels of foreign direct investment, means that the development pipeline will continue to expand over the next few years. Despite the challenge of Covid, our unique location and the business environment remained a strong attractor for international companies with 2020 and 2021 to date seeing several new FDI entrants with significant job announcements land in the city.
Our universities and colleges have 30,240 full-time students who study and live within the city. The demand for new student accommodation continues to increase and at a pace far greater than the current supply can offer. Many of these students will graduate with the skills Belfast needs and will stay to live and work here.
This is a city which will be home to the professionals of tomorrow. It is also a compact city, easy to get around and an attractive place in which to live, where the journey to the office is not an arduous one and the countryside and coast are just minutes away.
The market will benefit from Belfast City Council’s ambitious tourism and cultural strategy as well as investment in new tourism attractions funded through the Belfast Region City Deal.
Going forward, the city has strong fundamentals in place to support an upsurge in Build-to-Rent (BTR) with a major opportunity for a first-mover advantage. Whilst there aren’t any major BTR developments under construction at this time, several investors and developers are progressing plans with a number of schemes currently progressing at planning.
Additionally, Belfast City Council’s wider focus on delivering significant city-centre residential opportunities across all housing types, such as social, affordable, private for sale and rent, will ensure the city continues to realise its full potential as a fantastic place in which to live, work, play and study.
Belfast is alive with an entrepreneurial spirit, ambition and optimism. The city projects a picture of great opportunity, unique and unlike any other city in the UK. A picture of a city poised for an exciting economic future with untapped investment opportunities.
Renewed Ambition is a joint public and private sector-led initiative which aims to shape how we reimagine the future of our city and act together to deliver that ambition in the months and years ahead.
Over the past year, Renewed Ambition has delivered an intensive collaborative programme across a number of pillars including a series of events and webinars to shape the conversation about the city and engage with the investment community; a stakeholder engagement strategy; and the development of relevant market research.