Tech firms raise £45.6m in equity as 800 jobs still to be filled

Tech firms in Northern Ireland raised a record £45.6 million in venture capital investment last year, while an increased need for specialist staff means tech workers are salaries roughly £10,000 above the industry standard
Gary McDonald Business Editor

TECHNOLOGY companies in Northern Ireland had their best-ever year in 2020, with businesses across the region raising a record £45.6 million in venture capital investment.

This easily eclipses the previous record year for VC in the north in 2018, when start-ups raised £30.4m, according to new data by growth platform Tech Nation and job search engine Adzuna.

Technology has been a crucial tool during the coronavirus pandemic as businesses and consumers took work and life online, and as a result, tech companies and skilled tech workers have been more in-demand than ever.

There are currently 806 open IT-related roles in the north - way ahead of healthcare/nursing (521 vacancies) and accounting/finance (457 openings).

And this increased need for specialist staff means tech workers are commanding larger salaries - on average £43,032, which is more than £10,000 above the standard Northern Ireland average salary of £32,704.

Software engineers are in particular demand, with 250 vacancies across the north, offering an average salary of £53,312, whilst data scientists can earn on average £50,127.

Belfast has 516 open tech roles, nearly two thirds of all vacancies across the north, with the top hiring companies including a mixture of professional services firms such as Citi and PwC and financial tech providers CME Group and Trintech.

The figures on the growth of the north's tech industry come as the Government's Digital Economy Council and Tech Nation prepare to host a digital round table on Tuesday January 19 to discuss the challenges facing the sector as it works to create jobs and help the region recover from the impact of the coronavirus on jobs.

The virtual event is one of a series being held with tech executives, investors and entrepreneurs. Companies, investors, university representatives and other ecosystem participants will be brought together to learn, share and collaborate on the challenges posed by the pandemic, and the learnings will be fed back to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Digital minister Caroline Dinenage said: “All regions across the UK are benefitting from the tech industry. Belfast's engineering heritage has laid the foundations for a tech industry rich in technical skills and passion, and one that is employing thousands of people. I look forward to working with local tech entrepreneurs to build on this momentum throughout the next year.”

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