Chinese University Buys Northern Ireland Technology

E-learning company Synergy Learning has won a contract with the Jiangsu Institute of Economic and Trade Technology in Nanjing, near Shanghai, that could be worth over £100,000.

The contract was announced by Dr Alex Büchner Synergy Learning Chief Executive Officer, and welcomed by Tracy Meharg, Invest Northern Ireland’s Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, at the start of an Invest Northern Ireland trade mission to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing from 27th November to 7th December.

Synergy Learning was recently acquired by Dr Büchner and his fellow Directors Alan Largey and Roy Kerley, from the University of Ulster, which set up the operation in 1997 to market teaching materials to further education colleges in skills such as multimedia, graphic design and computer games. Jaingsu Institute will use Synergy Learning’s expertise to accelerate the development of the computer games industry in this region of China.

Welcoming Synergy’s success, Tracy Meharg said: “This is a good example of a small company in tradeable services that has identified significant growth opportunities for its skills in international markets such as China, Singapore and India.

“Increasingly, Northern Ireland’s exports and overall competitiveness internationally will be driven by creative and innovative companies in tradeable services.

“We need many more companies, therefore, in sectors in which Northern Ireland has considerable local and national expertise, such as computer technology, business consultancy and expert services, architecture and engineering, technical testing and analysis and creative entertainment to follow the example set by Synergy and others and to seize the opportunities now developing in global markets.

“Invest NI offers a comprehensive portfolio of advice and practical support for companies in tradeable services to develop exports by taking part in capability development programmes, overseas missions, visits and exhibitions,” she added.

Dr Büchner said: “We’ve found Invest NI missions to Singapore, China and India to be extremely worthwhile. We’ve gained up-to-date market knowledge about opportunities and business requirements and gained contacts that have helped us to secure important business.

“Our business in China, for instance, has been achieved with the help of a contact we made in Singapore, the highly influential Chartered Institute of Technology, which has vast experience and a network of contacts in universities and colleges in the huge Shanghai region.

“We are providing multimedia course materials for Jiangsu Institute to use in training students in graphics, web design, animation, 3D design and computer games to achieve a recognised qualification. With this qualification the students will be able to apply for more advanced courses in universities in the US, the UK and other parts of Europe.

“The contract also involves us training lecturers in China and in Belfast. The first group of lecturers from Jiangsu visited Belfast in September. As a result of the excellent relationship that we have with Jiangsu, we expect business with this institute and others in the region to grow strongly over the next few years,” he added.

Dr Büchner said the company’s developing achievements in markets outside Northern Ireland gave the management team the confidence to acquire the business from the University of Ulster. It had also established a sales operation in Great Britain. In addition, the company is targeting the Republic of Ireland where it already has a number of important customers.