Titanic opportunities for finance in Belfast
David Gavaghan describes some of the cutting edge innovations in the Titanic Quarter in Belfast including its cutting edge communications infrastructure which has Europe’s fastest direct fiber optic link to North America.

When she was launched in Belfast in 1911, the Titanic represented the ultimate marriage of international finance and high technology.

Funded, and owned by JP Morgan, the Titanic was the most remarkable physical manifestation of what was possible when the leading creative talents of the era were given access to its money markets.
David Gavaghan

A century later, Titanic Quarter, based on the 185-acre site where the Titanic was designed and built, is helping reconnect Belfast with the international financial services sector - using the latest telecoms technology and platforms to help investors plug into global networks and the region’s exceptional skills base. As part of that process we’re delighted to support Finance Dublin’s Yearbook and, more particularly, the Northern Ireland International Financial & Professional Services Directory which clearly lays out the scope and scale of the financial services industry on this part of the island.

A decade ago Titanic Quarter was nothing more than a plan to transform brownfield, waterfront space in central Belfast. Ten-years later almost �300m has been invested to create 1.3m sq ft of new space. Almost 4,000 people live and work within Titanic Quarter in 100 FDI and indigenous companies such as Citi, SAP, Fidessa and Microsoft. Queen’s University Belfast has also located a dedicated research centre on site known as ECIT (Electronics, Communications and Information Technology). This now includes CSIT - the UK’s largest university cyber security research lab.

One of the first developments to be completed at Titanic Quarter was the 150,000 sq ft Gateway office, representing Phase 1 of an International Finance Centre which has planning approval for a further 600,000 sq ft.

Gateway was the first building in Ireland, and one of only a handful in Europe, to be accredited with a Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) award. The international environmental benchmark acknowledges ‘Gateway’ as Northern Ireland’s greenest and most sustainable commercial office with design features such as solar powered heating and geothermal ground water pumps which contribute towards its exceptionally low running costs.

Bricks and mortar are, however, only one aspect which makes Titanic Quarter such an appealing proposition to potential investors. As a brownfield site, it has provided the freedom to create a 21st Century urban quarter. In the past 20-years there have been remarkable developments in technology, urban planning, architecture, industry, education, leisure pursuits and society’s expectations. While other cities have struggled to integrate these changes within a traditional cityscape, the blank canvass which the decline of shipbuilding bequeathed to Belfast has provided no such inhibitions.

Communications Infrastructure
The ICT platform at Titanic Quarter is one of the most advanced in Europe, providing fibre to every workplace and home, an open access carrier neutral network, Tier 1 Internet access and Europe’s fastest direct fibre optic link to North America. Titanic Quarter will also be home to a new next-generation data centre known as Titanic Exchange.

The �80m project, being developed by Data City Exchange, will be will be one of the world’s greenest data centres, delivering a sub-1.08 PUE rating and using up to 70 per cent less energy than traditional centres. The centre, which will include over 1,050 racks of capacity (the equivalent of 11 standard centres), will form part of a resilient international network and support related opportunities for investors from the financial services, media software and media sectors.

In addition to its advanced communications infrastructure Titanic Quarter also benefits from Northern Ireland’s exceptionally young and skilled workforce which is well suited to financial services operations. Over 40 per cent of the population is aged under 30 and 75 per cent of school leavers go onto further education. Last year the Financial Times FDI Markets monitor has named Belfast as one of the top global destinations for both financial services technology (FS tech) and R&D investments.
Titanic Quarter is a destination seeped in history and life. At the heart of the development is the �100m Titanic Belfast visitor attraction which has drawn over 700,000 visitors in its first nine-months. Belfast Metropolitan College’s Titanic Campus, the Titanic Studios (one of Europe’s largest production sets), T13’s Urban Sports Centre and the 24-acre Northern Ireland Science Park are also part of the area’s rich mix.

Ultra-modern yet historic, connected and competitively priced, Titanic Quarter is a compelling proposition with an attractive talent pool for investors in financial services, FS tech, business and administrative services.