Northern Ireland companies and the University of Ulster are connecting with business opportunities in Boston’s famed Route 128 technology corridor with help from Invest Northern Ireland, Tracy Meharg, Invest NI Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development Services, said today.

The University of Ulster has set up an office in Invest NI’s Northern Ireland Technology and Development Centre (NITDC) in Boston to access the area which boasts a ‘super-cluster’ in biotech/biomedical industries. The University of Ulster is using NITDC as a networking base to support its Science and Research Parks.

As a result of this focus, university spin-out companies, including Causeway Data Communications, Coleraine, which recently signed a strategic alliance with Patriot Properties in Boston, and Belfast-based EZ-DSP are already using NITDC’s expertise and facilities to build business in the area.

Two Antrim companies, Amtec Medical and textHELP, have also signed up for advice and support from NITDC for their marketing operations in the US.

NITDC is also working with QUBIS, the Queen’s University company which assists business spin-outs, as well as Momentum, the Northern Ireland Software Industry Federation, and the local biotech sector.

NITDC is Northern Ireland’s direct link to New England and the entire Northeast Corridor including New Jersey and Maryland/D.C. area which has become an epicenter of the US healthcare economy and where much of the R&D spending through the US National Institutes of Health is allocated. NITDC also has close links with MIT- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, now among the world’s most influential R&D centres.

Tracy Meharg said: “NITDC provides a direct link for local companies to what is probably the world’s most important innovation community and reflects Invest NI’s strategic focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.

“We chose Boston as the location for the first Northern Ireland Technology and Development Centre because this area boasts some 3,000 high technology companies and is home to globally respected research centres such as MIT. It is, moreover, the region where much of the nation’s cutting-edge private sector and defence research is currently undertaken.

“NITDC ‘s role is to advise and assist selected Northern Ireland technology-led businesses which have new ideas and enterprising managers, particularly in sectors such as ICT, biotechnology, advanced engineering and medical devices, to explore business and technology transfer opportunities in the New England/North Carolina area,” she said.

The NITDC is part of Invest NI’s strategy of assisting technology companies wishing to penetrate key global markets such as the US.

“Participating companies are benefiting from the NITDC’s extensive knowledge of the New England region and the wider US technology marketplace and from its broad portfolio of expert services that includes strategic development, marketing and business planning. It is also promoting technology transfer through its support for bridge-building initiatives between universities in Northern Ireland, New England area, Georgia and North Carolina,” she added.

Another important NITDC service is advice for local companies considering private sector funding for growth. This expertise is based on NITDC’s experience of the vast venture capital sector in Massachusetts, the third biggest in the US.