The BT Ireland Innovation Centre (BTIIC), will undertake an extensive programme of research and development that will cost an estimated £28.6 million over the next five years. Invest NI has offered support of £9 million towards the R&D programme.
The new centre will see BT and Ulster University undertake more than £7 million worth of joint research that will drive the creation of 25 new university research posts, alongside up to 50 new graduate roles in the BT Belfast Global Development Centre.
Howard Watson, BT Technology, Service and Operations CEO said:
“This is an exciting and significant investment for BT and for Northern Ireland. Our new Innovation Centre will operate alongside our existing Belfast Global Development Centre, the BT Labs in Suffolk, and our global network of technology scouts to further strengthen our research and innovation capability, bringing together industrial engineers and university researchers.
“The areas of expertise in the new hub will include the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics for customer experience and cyber security. We hope the opening of this world-class facility will help attract and retain Northern Ireland’s considerable IT talent.
“We are grateful to Invest NI for its ongoing support and look forward to working in close partnership with Ulster University.”
Invest NI’s Chief Executive, Alastair Hamilton, said:
“BT is a significant employer in Northern Ireland, employing almost 3500 people here. This new Innovation Centre in Belfast is a tremendous endorsement of BT’s continued commitment to Northern Ireland and a reflection of the availability of highly skilled people we have here. The centre will become an internationally recognised centre of excellence for innovation and will complement BT’s international research centres.
“Investment in research and development is critical to future economic growth. As a result of this project, 25 new posts in Ulster University, as well as 50 new roles within BT, will be created, which will generate an additional £1.4 million of annual salaries into the Northern Ireland economy.
“The collaboration between industry, academia and government is creating a unique environment in which research and creativity can flourish and it is one that we are immensely proud to be a part of.”
Ulster University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paddy Nixon, said:
“This ambitious industry partnership with BT is a unique collaboration opportunity. It builds upon two decades of our academic leadership in cognitive analytics and our recent £4 million investment in a new data analytics research institute. Computing and engineering at Ulster University is at the forefront of diverse research excellence in data science and networks, equipping us to play an integral role in transformative telecommunications.
“Creating 25 research posts - including 12 at PhD level - the new centre offers unrivalled higher education opportunities alongside industry leaders. Through our research and skilled graduate talent we are proud to support indigenous industry and the region’s ability to attract foreign direct investment. This commitment to a vibrant economy is further enhanced by our working in collaboration with Invest NI.
“We are delighted to be BT’s academic partner in a centre of excellence that will harness local innovation with global impact.”
BT Group currently employs 3495 people in Northern Ireland, including contract staff, and is the largest investor in communications and IT infrastructure, services and skills in the market.
Invest NI’s R&D support is part funded by ERDF under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020.