Business

New digital technology lab launched at former newspaper offices

Pictured at the launch of Digital Catapult’s new Immersive Lab are CEO-designate of UK Research and Innovation Mark Walport, Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister and head of Digital Catapult Northern Ireland Tom Gray
Gareth McKeown

AN iconic former newspaper headquarters in Belfast is now home to a new technology hub, which aims to promote entrepreneurial talent in the digital sector.

The new digital space has been set up in the old Belfast Telegraph building on Royal Avenue and as part of a UK-wide initiative, the centre will give local organisations the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the latest immersive technology including augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality, enabling them to test their own business ideas and research.

Launched by Digital Catapult, an organisation set up to help to drive the UK economy through the practical application of digital innovation and supported by the Department for the Economy and Belfast City Council, the 'Immersive Lab' is part of a number of similar centres across the UK.

The new facility is the latest development at the former Belfast Telegraph building, with the former printing hall converted into an events space, with a number of music nights already held at the venue, owned by Belfast City Council and McAleer & Rushe.

Digital Catapult CEO, Jeremy Silver said Northern Ireland was the perfect location for the lab.

"Northern Ireland's skills in games and creative industries are perfect for this new medium which can be applied for training and design, across the manufacturing industry and health as well. The Immersive Labs can be a showcase, a production facility, an experimentation lab and be part of a network of labs across the UK." Professor Sir Mark Walport, CEO-designate of UK Research and Innovation said Belfast is fast developing a reputation as a hub of entrepreneurial and academic talent in the digital sector.

"The lab here in Belfast will provide access to cutting-edge immersive technology allowing innovators and businesses to test and prototype their ideas and speed up their journey to market.”

Also speaking at yesterday's launch Belfast Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister added: "Belfast's international reputation for its creative and digital sector is growing rapidly; more than 20,000 people are now employed in the creative and digital industries. The opening of this lab in the former Belfast Telegraph Building, a location at the heart of the city, further demonstrates Belfast City Council's commitment to support this growing and important industry."

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