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Innovation Factory to open for business this autumn in Belfast

A new state-of-the-art business centre which will support up to 400 jobs is on track to open its doors in October.

Belfast City Council has confirmed that the £9.1 million Innovation Factory, on part of the former Mackie’s plant, off Springfield Road, will open for business this autumn, following the completion of construction works part-funded by Invest Northern Ireland (£2.1 million) and the European Regional Development Fund, under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland (£4.15 million).

The council has provided the remaining funding as part of its Investment Programme for the city.

Start-up businesses and expanding firms specialising in innovation, research and development, and other creative solutions will be able to take advantage of 3,300 square metres of flexible, affordable space inside the new centre. The Grade A standard accommodation includes 382 workstations across 111 business units, and will house over 100 businesses and entrepreneurs at full capacity.

Fully serviced facilities include meeting and conference rooms, hot desking, superfast broadband connection, 24/7 access for tenants, on-site catering and car parking.

“Small, independent businesses are the backbone of our city, but young people considering this type of career need state-of-the-art infrastructure and support which encourages and enables them to be their own boss and strengthens the economy,” said Suzanne Wylie, Chief Executive of Belfast City Council.

“We’ve worked closely with our contractors, as well as the local community, to create a modern, dynamic space which really appeals to young up and coming entrepreneurs, while also paying tribute to the site’s industrial heritage.

“As the first development to be completed on this site, the Innovation Factory also offers huge potential to socially regenerate this wider area, and become a catalyst in bringing more jobs and opportunities to those living nearby, as well as the wider city.”

An extensive range of business growth and innovation services, tailored to local needs, will be managed by Oxford Innovation, in partnership with a range of Belfast-based suppliers and sub-contractors.

They will now begin marketing the Innovation Factory to potential tenants, while interior fit out   takes place over the summer. This too will reflect the building’s industrial theme, with collaboration and office areas bearing titles like ‘Engine Room’, ‘The Yard’ and ‘The Forge’.

“We are delighted to have been appointed to manage the Innovation Factory, in partnership with Belfast City Council. I’m confident it will play a key role in fuelling innovation and growth within the community by meeting the needs of the talented local businesses who are key to its future success,” said Chris Allington, Managing Director of Oxford Innovation.

“By exposing companies to new markets and opportunities for collaboration, and working closely with them to develop concepts into profitable businesses, we aim to nurture the drive and creativity evident within Belfast to act as a catalyst for economic growth, and are looking forward to the opening of the centre in October.”

Businesses interested in taking space at the Innovation Factory when it opens can contact the council’s Economic Development Unit on 028 9027 0482 or email economicdevelopment@belfastcity.gov.uk for more information.