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Northern Ireland tech firms attract record funding

Northern Ireland tech
Image credit: Susanne Pommer / Shutterstock

Tech companies in Northern Ireland received investment totalling £143m in 2023 – the highest ever level  according to new data.

Research from Catalyst, a non-profit science and tech hub, found that Northern Ireland tech funding grew by less than 3% compared to the £139m raised in 2022.

While the growth rate for Northern Ireland tech funding was modest, it came amid a wider 54% downturn across the UK as a whole as macroeconomic pressures continued to bite.

The £143m was invested across 72 deals, making the average investment per tech company in Northern Ireland just under £2m.

“While the increase in venture capital investment into Northern Ireland companies was relatively modest in 2023, it is still very encouraging set against the continuing drop-in activity in the wider UK venture capital investment market,” said Kieran Dalton, head of scaling at Catalyst.

“Equity funding in Northern Ireland has been very resilient, with many of the larger deals consisting of follow-on investments from existing investors who have been willing to back their existing positions.”

Catalyst also reported a considerable rise in investment into female-led companies, with deals for startups featuring women on the executive team making up 35% of the total in 2023.

Catalyst chief executive Steve Orr noted that while under a decade ago Northern Ireland attracted just £5m of venture capital investment, last year there were seven separate deals worth more than that figure alone.

“This is a testament to the quality of our startup founders but also demonstrates the increased understanding amongst investors of what Northern Ireland’s ecosystem has to offer,” Orr said.

“Northern Ireland has consistently proved that it can produce innovative companies with high growth potential worthy of capital investment and I expect this interest will continue to grow in future.”

Recent investments into Northern Irish startups include a £1.4m round for AI molecule discovery firm AMPLY, £8.8m for software supply chain platform Cloudsmith and £3.1m for wireless sensor startup Sensoteq.

Belfast is the main destination for tech investment in Northern Ireland. Between 2019 and 2023 VC funding increased by 221% in Belfast – more than any UK city – according to data from HSBC Innovation Banking and Dealroom.

Read more: Northern Ireland scaleup programme launches for ‘high impact’ firms