High-Tech Scottish company creates R&D hub in Belfast

May 07, 2009

Invest Northern Ireland’s Chief Executive Alastair Hamilton today announced support for a £750,000 research based investment by Wireless Fibre Systems Ltd (WFS).

The Scottish-owned company, which also has two US operations, is the world leader in the development of wireless systems, specifically for through-water, and through-ground communications, sensing and navigation. The technology is being successfully applied in environmental monitoring, communications with unmanned vehicles under ice and will benefit emergency situations such as earthquakes or the collapse of buildings.

Invest NI has offered over £390,000 towards the project, which includes part funding from the European Regional Development Fund, to support product and skills development activities at the firm’s new R&D hub in Belfast. The project will support the firm’s global growth in the high value energy, environmental, oil, gas and security sectors.

Announcing Invest NI’s support, Alastair Hamilton said: “The decision by this leading technology company to locate an integral part of its research activities in Northern Ireland is further proof that this region remains a highly competitive location for international high-tech businesses despite the current global economic difficulties.  

“The technology that WFS develops is unique and highly innovative, indeed they have a significant number of patent applications in Europe and the US. For Northern Ireland to play a key role in the creation of even more advanced products for such specialised markets is a true vote of confidence in our local research capability. Not only will WFS access exceptional graduate talent and highly experienced researchers, they will make a significant contribution to the local economy delivering £300,000 annually in salaries.

“The new R&D hub will further strengthen links between industry and local universities, enhancing Northern Ireland’s reputation for world-leading innovation.”

Brendan Hyland, Chairman and Chief Executive of WFS, said: “Our technology has delivered major success to date, simply due to its effectiveness in the unpredictable marine environment, in industrial applications including oil and gas exploration and in emergency situations where wireless technology is essential if other communication methods have been damaged.

“Turnover has quadrupled in the last 12 months but we recognised the need to continually improve existing products and develop new concepts in order to sustain growth and enter new markets and sectors. We have identified a number of potential new applications for our core products as well as more advanced concepts. The Belfast R&D centre will be crucial in helping us to explore these development opportunities and ensure we can take new products to market as soon as possible.

“We looked at a number of potential European locations for this research base, but Northern Ireland offered the most competitive option from which to achieve our long term business goals. The benefits available here, combined with the crucial financial and advisory support of Invest NI, will see our Belfast team form an integral component of the global WFS operation.”

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