UK DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT: Belfast is ready to capitalise from Dublin firms seeking a UK base post-Brexit, according to the city council’s director of city centre development Nuala Gallagher.
Dublin has seen an influx of financial services requirements as banks seek to maintain a European Union base post-Brexit. JP Morgan announced this week it has bought a new office to accommodate 1,000 staff.
But the Brexit impact goes both ways, Gallagher says. “Some firms in Dublin are looking to take office space in Belfast purely so they will have a UK base in the event of Brexit. So we want to be there to try to capitalise on that and be a benefit to Dublin because our costs are more competitive in terms of salary and the rental market.”
The city has also secured €193m for a new transport hub, with increased capacity and frequency from the Belfast-Dublin train line. The investment will bring forward 1m sq ft of development around the new transport infrastructure.
While Dublin is getting the lion’s share of banking requirements, Belfast is dominating in cybersecurity and fintech, Gallagher says. California-based cybersecurity firm Anomali this week announced it would create 150 jobs in Belfast.
Spearheaded by the Centre for Secure Information Technologies at Queen’s University, the sector has created 1,200 jobs in the city in the past two years and that number is expected to grow to 5,000 by 2021. The challenge will be finding office space for the new firms.
“The immediate challenge we are facing is bringing forward grade-A offices,” Gallagher says.
“There is demand in the sector, and again it is about the banks not lending 100%, or a shortfall in funding. So we’ve got an €18.7m cash fund that we are looking to utilise to help bring forward some grade-A offices in the next few months. We are putting an open call out in June on that to try and get the market going and share some of the risk with the development sector.”