Northern Ireland’s Enterprise Minister, Angela Smith MP, last night officially opened Invest Northern Ireland’s new investment and trade office in Shanghai.
The office will promote and facilitate technology, investment and trade exchanges between Northern Ireland and China.
The Minister is currently travelling with an Invest NI visit to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing that includes representatives of 35 Northern Ireland companies and the University of Ulster.
Speaking at a reception for Chinese business leaders in Shanghai the minister said: “Opening this office in Shanghai will increase awareness in China of what Northern Ireland has to offer in terms of technology, quality products, expert services and the substantial benefits of Northern Ireland a location in which to do business within Europe.
“Our aim is to position Northern Ireland as the very best solution for Chinese industrial investors seeking a location that offers them easy access to Europe in terms of advanced telecommunications and transport and the skilled people to help them in achieving their business objectives.”
The minister said Chinese investors would benefit from Northern Ireland’s standing as among the fastest growing UK regional economies. Productivity, employment and gross value added were increasing faster than UK averages. Northern Ireland also offers a young labour force – 63 per cent under 45 years - and higher standards of education than many other UK regions.
From an investment perspective the key business sectors within Northern Ireland include software development, telecoms and electronics. Major companies such as Citigroup, Oracle and Microsoft have already chosen Northern Ireland as the preferred location for their nearshore software and IT operations.
In addition, universities in Northern Ireland offer extensive expertise in developing technologies such as nanotechnology, proteomics, software and communications. Partnerships between industry and universities have ensured continuous innovation in IT and software research. Software R&D accounts for over one third of the total R&D investment in Northern Ireland – worth over 100 million US dollars over the past three years.
Earlier this year, Invest NI opened an office in New York. The organisation currently has technology, trade and investment offices in London, Boston, Denver, San Jose, Brussels, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Dubai, Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei.