NI’S in­no­va­tive tech com­pa­nies con­tinue ris­ing to chal­lenges

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Platform - By Peter­allen, Part­ner At­de­loitte Peter Allen is a part­ner at Deloitte, North­ern Ire­land

Tech com­pa­nies across the is­land of Ire­land have been suc­ceed­ing on the in­ter­na­tional stage for many years, es­tab­lish­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for the re­gion as a home of in­no­va­tive tech start-ups and com­pa­nies with high po­ten­tial to scale up.

Dublin of course has an im­mensely strong tech scene, from the huge US multi­na­tion­als like Google, Face­book and Mi­crosoft, which em­ploy thou­sands of peo­ple, to a vi­brant group of fast-grow­ing in­dige­nous busi­nesses tak­ing their ex­per­tise to cus­tomers across the globe — such as over­all Fast 50 win­ner es­hop­world.

North­ern Ire­land may have a smaller num­ber of tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies, but this year’s Deloitte Tech­nol­ogy Fast 50 Awards sug­gests that there is much to cel­e­brate in the tech­nol­ogy com­mu­nity around Belfast, Derry and be­yond.

The Fast 50 awards, now in their 18th year, rank Ire­land’s fastest grow­ing tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies and recog­nise the in­dige­nous tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies that have demon­strated ex­cep­tional growth in turnover over the last four years. The awards in Dublin last week show­cased com­pa­nies that, de­spite the chal­lenges in the global econ­omy, con­tinue to in­no­vate and drive the sec­tor for­ward.

This year saw a record num­ber of NI en­trants ranked in the Fast 50 awards. Fif­teen com­pa­nies was the high­est amount of ranked en­trants from North­ern Ire­land since the awards be­gan.

They in­cluded: Aquaq An­a­lyt­ics, En­gaged Web, Fathom, Flint Stu­dios, JAR Tech­nolo­gies, Leaf, Learn­ing Pool, Lu­cid In­ter­ac­tive, Neueda, Ori­gin Dig­i­tal, Oza­roo, P2V Sys­tems, Rep­stor, Tas­comi and The Web Bureau.

Some of th­ese com­pa­nies are well known and have made the list be­fore. At sixth place on the list, on­line re­tailer Oza­roo was the top-ranked NI com­pany for the sec­ond year run­ning.

But what is per­haps most pos­i­tive was the num­ber of com­pa­nies mak­ing their de­but. Out of the 15 firms from NI, seven are new en­trants to the rank­ing — which tracks the growth posted over the last four years. For those emerg­ing com­pa­nies, the Fast 50 awards pro­vide added val­i­da­tion and cred­i­bil­ity for what they are do­ing as they try to es­tab­lish them­selves as sig­nif­i­cant play­ers in the tech­nol­ogy sec­tor.

Aquaq An­a­lyt­ics, ranked 26th on the Fast 50 list, is a provider of spe­cial­ist data man­age­ment, data an­a­lyt­ics and data min­ing ser­vices to clients in the cap­i­tal mar­kets sec­tors. Ro­nan Pair­ceir, the com­pany’s CEO, is con­fi­dent the NI tech sec­tor is in good shape.

“The NI tech in­dus­try is thriv­ing. Both small and large com­pa­nies are be­ing well sup­ported to do some re­ally in­no­va­tive work. Our team work hard to pro­vide clients with a qual­ity, ex­pert ser­vice and as we do that, we re­ally value the recog­ni­tion that comes with some­thing like the Fast 50 rank­ing,” he said.

The in­creased pro­file, he says, helps smaller firms ad­dress one of the in­dus­try’s big­gest chal­lenges.

“Our rev­enues have grown sig­nif­i­cantly year on year, prov­ing to us that NI is an ex­cel­lent place to be work­ing in tech. But we’re all try­ing to tap into the same pool of re­sources and that means there is a lot of com­pe­ti­tion for the best re­sources. That is a chal­lenge.”

Jar Tech­nolo­gies helps or­gan­i­sa­tions per­form on­line, us­ing real browser test­ing and mon­i­tor­ing to en­sure ap­pli­ca­tions work. CEO Ryan Mcan­lis be­lieves com­pe­ti­tion in NI’S rel­a­tively small mar­ket­place can be over­come if the re­gion can at­tract larger scale in­vest­ment and a big­ger foot­print from global en­ter­prise tech com­pa­nies present in Dublin.

“In­vest­ment is nec­es­sary for larger growth within the NI tech in­dus­try. We have great ven­ture cap­i­tal in­vest­ment and pro­duc­tive pro­grammes for an­gel and seed start-ups, but we need ac­cess to the fur­ther in­vest­ment re­quired for larger growth,” he said.

“Jar Tech­nolo­gies is de­liv­er­ing world-lead­ing in­no­va­tive prod­ucts and we be­lieve we have the ta­lent in North­ern Ire­land to con­tinue to do that.

“The Deloitte Fast 50 rank­ing is a first-rate recog­ni­tion that we hope will help us gain fur­ther con­fi­dence with large en­ter­prises.

“Those are the com­pa­nies that will de­liver fur­ther growth to sus­tain that next level of in­vest­ment.”

The Tech­nol­ogy Fast 50 awards cel­e­brate in­no­va­tion and en­trepreneur­ship and pro­vide an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to show­case the strength and achieve­ments of busi­nesses in the tech sec­tor.

In Belfast and North­ern Ire­land we do have some of those big play­ers and our in­no­va­tive in­dige­nous tech com­pa­nies are in­creas­ingly on the radars of larger pri­vate eq­uity and ven­ture cap­i­tal in­vestors.

But there is still much to be done to en­sure that some of the high qual­ity com­pa­nies on the Fast 50 have ac­cess to the means they need to kick on to the next level.

The Deloitte Tech­nol­ogy Fast 50 Awards cel­e­brate Ire­land’s tech­nol­ogy com­mu­nity

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