Special Report Relocation: Northern Ireland

Article excerpt

Economy

The region is very strong in the software, financial services and telecoms sectors, but is also witnessing clusters of excellence emerging in areas such as life and health sciences and manufacturing. Belfast has recently been ranked the top location in the British Isles for customer call and contact-centre based activities. Northern Ireland's mobile communications sector now has a cluster of world-class companies such as Openwave, Intelliden, mFormation and Aepona that draw on the relevant expertise of the region's two research-focused universities, Queen's University Belfast and the University of Ulster. Since Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with a euro participant (the Republic of Ireland), the business community and banking and services sector in the region regularly conduct business in euros.

Infrastructure

Northern Ireland is served by three international airports: Belfast International, George Best Belfast City and the City of Derry. Flight times to London are just an hour, and the three airports serve a variety of UK and international destinations. Northern Ireland is also served by five ports, including the Port of Belfast, one of the UK's most important, handling 17 million tonnes per year.

Workforce

Private-sector median wage is pounds 17,000, labour turnover rates are among the lowest in Europe and the region's well-educated workers provide a healthy stream of fresh talent for knowledge-based companies Northern Ireland has one of the youngest populations in Europe, and educational achievements are high, with students consistently performing well above other UK regions at GCSE and A-Level. More than 2,000 people graduate each year with business qualifications. Queen's University research has spun out more than 50 companies, creating some 700 jobs in the process, while the University of Ulster's course provision is the largest in Ireland.

Biggest employers

Seagate Technology, Fujitsu, Bombardier Aerospace, Microsoft, Caterpillar, Polaris Software Lab, Liberty Mutual, HCL BPO.

Quality of life

You can cross Northern Ireland by car in about two hours, north to south and east to west. The countryside offers dramatic coastlines, castles, mountains, lakes and some of the best golf courses in the world. Activities on offer include fishing, water sports, walking trails, scenic drives and historical landmarks. …