Northern Ireland seeks Indian IT cos help in R&D

Written by Rachana Khanzode | Mumbai | Updated: Mar 3 2009, 04:39am hrs
Invest Northern Ireland, the public body aiming at the economic development of Northern Ireland, is looking at attracting mid size Indian IT companies for research and development (R&D) in their country. The body helps international companies (large and mid size) set up their base in Northern Ireland by bringing them financial incentives of up to 15-25%, besides introducing them to various recruitment bodies, universities, property solutions and government organisations.

Barry Clarke, senior vice president-India for Invest Northern Ireland, says, We intend to attract small and mid sized IT services, BPO and niche software development firms that are looking at research and development. These firms could be looking at niche areas like transaction related software development for the banking, financial services and insurance sector, radio frequency in IT, mobile telephony software and life sciences.

According to Clarke, Northern Ireland, one of the four constituent countries within the United Kingdom, is increasingly being seen as a near shore geography by the Indian IT services companies. Besides the strategic location that Northern Ireland has, its value proposition is the low operational cost as there is a lot of availability of quality labour at about 20-35% cheaper than in the UK. Also, the cost of living here is about 15-20% lower than in UK. So the incentive package, which is about 15-25%, accelerates the investments to set up their base out here. Therefore, companies are exploring this option seriously, he adds. Companies like HCL Technologies, Polaris Software Labs, Firstsource Solutions and Tech Mahindra are already present in this geography.

In spite of the downturn in the economic environment, we have a good pipeline. We are currently in talks with another five major Indian IT companies to come to Northern Ireland. We expect some of them to set up their base in Northern Ireland by April, he adds. Clarke also adds that mid size IT companies from the US, Canada and Europe too are setting up data centers in Northern Ireland.

Invest Northern Ireland has already invested about pounds 150 million for setting up various Indian IT companies. Within Invest Northern Ireland, the Inward Investment Division is responsible for attracting new foreign direct investment (FDI) from outside of Northern Ireland.