Northern Ireland may not have a stock exchange or a real-life trading floor, but it does have a growing cluster of companies in the Capital Markets technology sector. In recent years we have seen continued investments and expansions by international firms such as Citi, Fidessa, SR Labs, CME Group and indigenous companies including First Derivatives which all provide technology solutions and consulting services to the Capital Markets industry. In addition Northern Ireland has 11 globally recognised ICT related research centres including the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) at Queen’s University Belfast and the Intelligent Systems Research Centre (ISRC) at University of Ulster. With support from Invest Northern Ireland, these founding companies, along with the two University research centres have come together to create the Capital Markets Collaborative Network. This is a key initiative working in partnership to strengthen the research base and graduate skills within Northern Ireland. Each of the companies involved in the network has previously worked individually with one or both universities, but this is the first time they have collectively used their combined effort in an organised programme.
Invest NI has played a leading role in the development of the network and has recently provided financial support through the collaborative network programme. This has allowed the network to appoint a facilitator to focus on building the network and I am proud to have been appointed by the partners to this important role.
The partners have provided support and resources for PhD studentships at Ulster and Queen’s, this support highlights the collaborations commitment to research. The grand challenges of Capital Markets Engineering have been articulated by the company partners who provide the students with domain expertise as well as historical data, real time market data and access to facilities. The application of expertise from the students and their supervisors aligned with the support provided by the company partners will lead to world class applied research.
According to recent figures from Invest NI the financial services industry in Northern Ireland employs around 33,000 people in more than 1,200 firms. A recent article in the Financial Times reported that Belfast is globally the top destination city for financial technology investment projects. The Capital Markets technology companies are an important and significant cluster within this sector and we want to facilitate the continued growth of the sector. We work together on collaborative R&D, skills development through the Capital Markets Academy, marketing of the sector, engaging with diaspora and promoting entrepreneurship. Our long term goal is to position Northern Ireland as a global centre of excellence for R&D in Capital Markets Engineering.