Foster launches new collaboration to help companies boost performance

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has launched a new telecommunications collaborative network which aims to help local businesses boost their performance.

The UK has a world class telecommunications infrastructure and in 2005 Northern Ireland became the first region in Europe to have 100% access to first generation broadband. This new collaborative network, Digital NI 2020, will help all sectors of local industry to identify how this technology can be further exploited to secure business growth. If the network fully realises its objectives, it has the potential to create employment opportunities and leverage private investment.

Speaking at the launch Arlene Foster said: “As part of our focus to develop a strong knowledge-based economy it is crucial that we fully embrace the information and communication technologies available to us. The Digital NI 2020 network will help all sectors of Northern Ireland’s business community to capitalise on the substantial economic benefits of the excellent telecoms infrastructure we have here.

“Collaboration is a vital tool and will be essential as businesses, educational establishments and government departments seek to access its full potential. Taking part in Digital NI 2020’s awareness programmes will help both the network partners and wider industry to enhance their skills and fully utilise technology to win new business and attract valuable investment to Northern Ireland.”

Invest Northern Ireland offered Digital NI 2020 over £240,000 towards a collaboration by 28 network members. The network partners include ICT companies, local councils, academia, development agencies and industry experts.

Over the next two years, Digital NI 2020 will roll out skills development programmes and awareness initiatives across Northern Ireland and will offer businesses and organisations support and encouragement.

Sinclair Stockman, Executive Director of Digital NI 2020, added: “Both businesses and the wider community need help to maximise the benefits of our telecommunications infrastructure. Our awareness programmes are designed to help all parties boost their competitiveness and maximise emerging opportunities. This hi-tech infrastructure will also make it possible for a larger proportion of inward investors to use Northern Ireland as the base for their R&D projects, creating employment and investment opportunities.”