The Northern Ireland Science Park (NISP) has confirmed plans to expand its facilities by almost a third, providing additional space for up to 500 knowledge workers. The new facility, the second of three buildings known as ‘The Concourse’, will be purchased upon completion by Belfast Harbour as an investment property. The £6 million investment includes a sharing of security between Belfast Harbour, the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment and Barclays Bank which had previously provided a loan facility for Concourse I.
NISP, which is located within Belfast Harbour Estate, is a £73m development providing over 400,000 sq. ft of agile workspace to approximately 100 companies. When fully completed the Concourse complex will represent an investment of more than £20m.
Belfast Harbour’s involvement reflects its ongoing efforts to develop the Estate as a destination for inward investors, particularly in the knowledge sector. The new building is expected to open in August 2012.
Welcoming the announcement, Frank Hewitt, Chairman, Northern Ireland Science Park said:
“The knowledge-ecosystem developed and championed by the Science Park has proven to be a fertile growth platform for high-technology companies from home and abroad. Our success to date has attracted a lot of interest from technology firms keen to set up or expand their operations at the Park and we have already entered into two pre-let agreements for the new building with knowledge-based firms keen to continue their rapid growth in Northern Ireland.
“Given the challenging economic and funding conditions we are delighted that Belfast Harbour has been willing to make this investment which allows NISP to expand to meet occupier demand and support wider economic needs of Northern Ireland.“
Roy Adair, CEO of Belfast Harbour added:
“Belfast Harbour has a long track record of working with its tenants in the Harbour Estate to develop infrastructure and facilities for the benefit of all involved.
“Given the lack of liquidity in the credit markets, on this occasion the Harbour has been able to help facilitate the development of Concourse Phase II. As evidenced by the strong demand for additional space, NISP has been one of the great economic success stories in Northern Ireland over the past decade and Belfast Harbour is keen to support its ongoing development.”
Belfast Harbour will purchase the completed building as an investment property to be leased back to the Science Park. As with other NISP facilities, Concourse Phase II will include bespoke hi-tech, flexible and connected workspace targeted at ICT, life science, engineering and biotech sectors.
Welcoming the latest development, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster said:
“This latest investment in the Northern Ireland Science Park is evidence of the growth potential for local entrepreneurs and for the creation of a strong knowledge-based economy here. Through a combination of world-class fibre optic connectivity, innovative and flexible workspace, as well as a supportive and collaborative environment - which includes successful mentoring programmes delivered through NISP CONNECT - the Science Park continues to be a major supporter of local entrepreneurialism.
“We know that businesses associated with NISP have been flourishing and it is very encouraging that a number of technology companies are ready to move in to the new Concourse building as soon as it is built.”