The Royal Academy of Engineering has established the first regional base for its Enterprise Hub - in Belfast. The Enterprise Hub: Northern Ireland, supported by Invest Northern Ireland, is based at Ormeau Baths co-working space in Belfast.
Senior Regional Business Development Manager, Gillian Gregg will be based at the Belfast hub to champion ambitious engineering entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland, supporting the region’s brightest technology and engineering entrepreneurs to realise their potential. She will be growing a local network of engineering entrepreneurs, mentors, institutions, accelerators and investors.
The Academy established its Enterprise Hub in 2013 to run programmes for entrepreneurial engineers at different career stages. Each one offers equity-free funding, an extended programme of mentorship and coaching and a lifetime of support through connection to an exceptional community of engineers and innovators from among the Academy’s Fellows, many of whom have set up highly successful companies.
The Enterprise Hub currently supports more than 200 engineering and technology entrepreneurs and leaders of high growth SMEs who have attracted over £200m in external funding. Only seven of these entrepreneurs are based in Northern Ireland, and the Belfast hub is looking to significantly grow this number by providing financial support, training and coaching to early stage and scale up entrepreneurs as well as exceptional connections to the nation’s best engineering minds.
According to a report by Beauhurst there are 612 active, ambitious companies in Northern Ireland, and 35% of these are at seed stage. Only 32% of high growth companies in Northern Ireland have raised equity investment, which is far lower than the UK average of 52%.
David Cleevely CBE FREng, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Committee and serial entrepreneur and investor, said: “There is a great entrepreneurial culture in Northern Ireland with strong focus on engineering and technology, building on its rich innovation heritage. The Enterprise Hub can add value here by providing specialist support to entrepreneurs and giving them access to the Royal Academy of Engineering’s network of world-leading engineers. We want to help this vibrant start-up community to grow.”
Stephen Wightman, Director for Technology Solutions at Invest NI, said: “We are pleased to welcome the establishment of the Royal Academy’s first regional hub to Northern Ireland. Our team has helped to bring the investment here, and we have offered support towards the Senior Regional Business Development Manager role. Northern Ireland has a vibrant and diverse engineering and technology sector, exporting to all corners of the globe. The addition of the Royal Academy’s facilities, connections and mentoring will support and enhance the development of new and existing Northern Ireland entrepreneurial talent in the field of engineering and technology.”