Businesses take part in unique innovation showcase in London
A NUMBER of companies and individuals from across the north are showcasing their products, services and expertise in London today as part of a high-profile Northern Ireland Business and Innovation Showcase.
Some 28 organisations are taking part of the expo, including Queen’s University and Ulster University, and they represent a cross section of key sectors including financial services, fintech, health and life sciences, ICT, advanced manufacturing and cyber security.
And in addition to established firms, 12 start-ups and innovative companies are highlighting their services on an Innovation Platform.
Organised with support from the Department for International Trade and Invest NI, the event will create opportunities for organisations to network with international companies, governments and investors to create business opportunities and boost exports and investment into the region.
The event at the QEII, which was opened by Secretary of State Brandon Lewis, is part of celebrations around the centenary of the foundation of Northern Ireland.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told companies at the showcase that the post-pandemic world, the net-zero revolution and Brexit presented major opportunities for growth in the north.
He said: “As we enter this new chapter, as we look back on the last 100 years and look forward, we have to recognise that this is a really historic opportunity.
“We’ve got a number of things, the post-pandemic opportunity, the net-zero revolution and, of course, we have left the EU only in the last eight months. All of these things present a historic opportunity and I’m sure that Northern Ireland will be able to benefit greatly from this historic moment.”
Both Mr Kwarteng and Secretary of State Brandon Lewis praised the work of Northern Irish firms such as Wrightbus and Artemis, which are building zero-emission buses and ships, and identified opportunities in green technology, information technology and filmmaking.
The event at the QEII Centre in Westminster, opened by Mr Lewis, has been described as the highlight of the Northern Ireland Office’s Centenary programme.
It followed a Number 10 reception hosted by British prime minister Boris Johnson and a City of London Corporation reception at London’s Guildhall last night.
Mr Johnson said the British government will “continue to promote Northern Ireland interests”.
“This year we are celebrating the huge contribution Northern Ireland has made to our country over the past 100 years and looking ahead to the enormous potential of its employers and innovators,” he said.
“The UK government will continue to promote Northern Ireland interests to help boost investment and jobs as we build back better from the pandemic.”
Mr Lewis added: “This showcase is an ideal forum to show the positive contribution of Northern Ireland firms to the UK economy, and reinforces the UK Government’s commitment to build back better by creating opportunities for businesses to flourish through trade.
“It is particularly fitting that this showcase, hosted by the Northern Ireland Office, is happening in Northern Ireland’s Centenary year, as it symbolises all that is positive about today’s Northern Ireland and its ambitions for a bright and prosperous future.”
Invest NI chief executive Kevin Holland described the showcase as a “fantastic platform for our exhibiting businesses to promote their world-class products, services, skills and innovation to potential new buyers and investors”.
“We look forward to engaging with them and promoting Northern Ireland as a place for business growth and excellence,” he said.
Economy minister Gordon Lyons said: “Northern Ireland has a prestigious and storied history of innovation and global business success, and is now well established as a global leader in new and emerging fields like cyber security, fintech and advanced manufacturing.
“This is an exciting time for us as we work together to create an even stronger economy for the benefit of everyone in society.”
Tourism NI hosted an area of the exhibition hall to showcase the very best of NI locations, hotels and tourist attractions.
As well as the exhibition and the innovation platform, today's showcase will feature keynote speakers including NI’s Special envoy to the US Trevor Ringland, who will give a speech on foreign direct investment.