Innovation Factory open for Business

September 29th 2016

The pioneering Innovation Factory (IF) was officially opened in Belfast today to provide a creative working space for start-up and expanding businesses in the city - specialising in innovation, technology and product development.

International designer Wayne Hemingway who worked on the interior design of the building on the Springfield Road, joined Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Brian Kingston, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA and Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir MLA to unveil the state-of-the-art building to the public.

 The £9.1 million project, on part of the former Mackies plant, was part funded by Belfast City Council through its investment programme, Invest Northern Ireland (£2.1 million) and the European Regional Development Fund, under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland (£4.15 million). It will be managed by Oxford Innovation Ltd.
 
The Innovation Factory will provide grade A standard accommodation which includes 382 workstations across 111 business units to house over 100 businesses and entrepreneurs. Features also include meeting and conference rooms, hot desking, superfast broadband connection, 24/7 access for tenants, on-site catering and car parking. The interior fit-out was designed by Wayne Hemingway of Hemingway Design to reflect the building’s industrial theme.
 
Lord Mayor Alderman Brian Kingston said: “I’m honoured to open such an inspirational and pioneering building today. We’ve worked closely with our contractors and the local community to create a modern, dynamic space which will particularly appeal to young and up and coming entrepreneurs, while also paying tribute to the site’s industrial heritage.
 
“We’ve also ensured within the management contract for the centre that the operation of Innovation Factory will contribute to local trade and skills development for local suppliers, community, schools and colleges.
 
“Our investment in this key project is symbolic of the council’s continued commitment to deliver economic growth whilst delivering social value to our local communities and businesses.”
 
Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA said: “The Innovation Factory is a remarkable building and an impressive space for entrepreneurs and growing businesses in Belfast. 
 
“It is vitally important that government, education providers and economic development partners continue to work together to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem that delivers economic growth for all. 
 
"This exciting new centre highlights the collaborative efforts of Invest NI, Belfast City Council and Oxford Innovation who are working in partnership to ensure our entrepreneurs have the assistance they need to develop their innovative business ideas. 
 
“The Innovation Factory is a welcome addition to the existing local economic infrastructure and has the potential to act as a catalyst for economic regeneration of the remainder of the site at Forthriver Business Park and of the wider area.”
 
Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir MLA said: “It’s great to see the former Mackies site reborn as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. I am confident this impressive facility will go from strength to strength in the time ahead."
 

“Our investment in this key project is symbolic of the council’s continued commitment to deliver economic growth whilst delivering social value to our local communities and businesses

Brian Kingston, Lord Mayor Alderman

Innovation Factory Incubation Director Majella Barkley said “IF is a place for entrepreneurs to collaborate, innovate and push their boundaries. Entrepreneurs want to feel part of a thriving local business community and as such, we have created IF as a place where businesses can pool resources, share ideas and work together within a supportive community to innovate, grow and develop their capabilities. 

 "Through our growth and innovation services, a business will be supported to generate and exploit new ideas, to look at the possibilities for their business and to ask themselves important ‘What ifs?’.”
 
The Innovation Factory will provide a high-quality workspace with a range of options from hotdesks to co-working accommodation and conference facilities. Businesses and entrepreneurs will receive support to grow their businesses in the form of training, mentoring, networking opportunities and help with business plans, financial management advice; legal guidance and marketing their business. 
 
Oxford Innovation will also work with local communities to benefit them through a ‘buy local’ policy on services for the new centre, the provision of student work placements, initiatives with local schools and colleges to encourage entrepreneurship and business development programmes for local social enterprises.
 
Wayne Hemingway was guest speaker at the official opening of the building today where he spoke about his inspiration for the interior design of the Innovation Factory as well as his career as an entrepreneur, being the co-founder and former owner of the Red or Dead fashion label and the current CEO of Hemingway Design. 
 
Businesses or individuals interested in becoming tenants at the Innovation factory should contact 028 9590 2500 or get in touch below.
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