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Why the NI startup sector will continue to grow

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by Startacus Admin

NI startup scene
As the tech startup scene and startup ecosystem in NI continues to grow, Clare Kelly, Director of leading serviced offices and coworking spaces provider, Glandore suggests that this growth is only the beginning of a further period of continued sector development.

Clare Kelly Director Glandore"The tech startup scene and startup ecosystem in Northern Ireland will only continue to grow.

It doesn’t take much to understand that we have experienced a particular transition period over the ten years, our attitudes towards work are changing, the NI economy is changing - as is the global economy, and this evolution is changing the kind of work that we are doing - increasing the opportunity to experiment and innovate.

The Glandore network, both past and present is bursting with companies that have emerged over the past ten years. Our alumni network has included big hitters such as Twitter, Facebook, Rapid 7, Cayan, Worldpay - but  those giants started somewhere, and with founding teams made up with a handful of employees.

This global business success, inspires the current generation.

According to Deloitte, millennial job habits include job-hopping and a desire for an inclusive and diverse workplace. The survey found that ni startup growth 43 per cent of millennials plan to leave their current jobs within two years and only 28 per cent have plans to stay beyond five years.

Changing job habits reveal the increasingly fluid nature of work, compared to the previous generation where jobs would last over ten years plus. The trends point toward a workforce more willing to experiment with their careers.

As these trends develop, we begin to see businesses reflect the way people want to work. Modern offices have had to adapt to the needs of their workers as flexible working has become the new norm.  

And it is no surprise that it is the tech sector that is best placed to reflex the changing demands of the modern workforce. A report in May 2018, suggested that the UK tech sector was growing 2.6 times faster than the overall economy.

NI as an identified tech hub in the UK highlights that growth. Every week, tech firms either set up in NI or indigenous NI tech businesses celebrate job growth and create.

As these trends develop, we begin to see businesses reflect the way people want to work. Modern offices have had to adapt to the needs of their workers as flexible and remote working has become the new norm and the traditional 9-5 becomes less of a standard requirement.

NI startup scene and ecosystemFlexible working highlights the fact that ‘work’ as we know it, is changing. Co-working spaces in NI are helping to shape that business evolution - not just simply reflex it.

People are willing to take the risk in return for greater autonomy, fuelling a generation willing seize opportunities as they come to them.

Business finance, like the workforce and the office space they require is evolving. In the past, it came down to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from the local bank manager, often leaving business owners in financial limbo with little other option.

Outside of the traditional banking products, never before has Northern Ireland been able to offer such an extensive range of alternative finance options.  These include products such as short and long-term loans, debtor finance, crowdfunding, asset finance and equity, all which many in business feel are no longer just desirables, but in fact a necessity as a way of securing a healthy financial environment for a flourishing business.

The Access to Finance initiative supported by Invest Northern Ireland, offers a variety of support including startup funding, loans and equity investment. A message that there is financial support readily available in Northern Ireland for startups who are looking to grow and develop.

For Northern Irish based tech startups, both early stage and scaling, TechstartNI offer proof-of-concept grants through to seed investment - again a level of support previously not as easy to find.

Even in the last couple of weeks, a new NI focused startup platform was launched to help the rising number of startup businesses in Northern Ireland connect with investors, fellow peers and potential new employees across Europe. Supply and demand! This platform is not hoping to create a NI tech and startup scene - it’s a clear reflection that the business community in NI is there and the relevant connectors and connections, needed.

Glandore coworking BelfastHere at Glandore we cater for the needs of companies at every stage of their development, from early stage right through to scaling FDIs. We have been providing flexible workspace in Belfast for 12 years and in Dublin for over 17 years.

With the startup community in Northern Ireland expected to continue to grow, the co-working industry is rapidly expanding and the demand for more of this sort of flexible space in Belfast is increasing.

As a family business, our aim is to give our members the very best start to their operations but also enable them to achieve their growth ambitions.  From the quality of the working environment and service, our holistic wellness programme to the unique networking events for our members and alumni, we strive to support the growth and success of our member companies.

Our base in NI gives us the best opportunity to best support that sector growth and we’d suggest NI’s current tech and startup ecosystem, is only tip of the iceberg of how big it could become."

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Published on: 5th November 2018

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