Belfast is the UK's Second City for Foreign Investment

Invest NI has welcomed the publication of Ernst & Young’s 2010 European Attractiveness survey which shows the Northern Ireland continues to be a strong location of choice for inward investors seeking a UK location, with Belfast having now assumed second place, with only London ahead.

Commenting on the survey, Invest NI Chief Executive, Alastair Hamilton said, “For Belfast to have become the UK's second most attractive location for foreign direct investment, particularly in the technology and financial services sectors, is a clear reflection of the strong selling proposition we continue to offer potential investors.

“According to Ernst & Young, the average new FDI project in Europe now creates 69 new jobs, compared to 101 in 2006 a trend we see reflected in the projects we have won. Although individual projects may be smaller in terms of pure direct job numbers, the quality of employment we are now attracting has never been higher, with many of the projects having a strong focus on innovation and R&D and offering high quality employment opportunities. Last year, 74% of the new jobs resulting from inward investment were at salary levels above the NI private sector average.

“With the US continuing to be our primary source of inward investment, this strong, independent endorsement of Northern Ireland will be a clear message which Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster will take with her to Silicon Valley next week.

“With potential investors seeking to optimise cost, many are prepared to look at different investment models, including near-shoring, enhanced collaboration, or direct acquisition – all areas where Northern Ireland offers competitive solutions. We are able to underpin these with a ready supply of talent, creativity, a strong research capability, excellent infrastructure and stability.

“Our own current experience of likely future developments echoes findings of the survey. Whereas, over the past 12 – 18 months, some potential investors decided to pause and take stock, our pipeline of potential projects is currently extremely healthy and is significantly above the levels of the same time last year. Many of these have a strong financial services, software development or environmental element, sectors which continue to present opportunities for future growth,” he said.

Mr Hamilton concluded, “Despite current budget pressures, it is imperative that we prioritise support to enable us to convert this pipeline of opportunity into firm projects which will drive economic recovery and growth.”