Belfast's first e-business incubator has just opened in the Springvale Education Village, the pioneering peaceline initiative involving Ulster University and the Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education.
The £1.3 million Synergy eBusiness Incubator (SeBI) stems from a partnership between UU and e-business services company ICL. It has won funding from the European special support programme for peace and reconciliation, the government industrial research and technology unit and the international fund for Ireland.
Sir Reg Empey, Northern Ireland's minister for enterprise, trade and investment, said the incubator was aimed at helping establish about 20 e-businesses over the next three years, creating about 100 jobs.
"I understand that five new companies, including two spin-off companies from the University of Ulster, have already entered the incubator, resulting in the creation of 11 full-time jobs, in addition to five full-time positions created within the incubator itself."
Gerry McKenna, UU's vice-chancellor, said the incubator would form an integral part of the university's technology transfer process, bridging the gap between research and commercial success.
"The incubator will undoubtedly flourish in the vibrant environment of a new educational village campus dedicated to teaching and lifelong learning, through provision of accessible and innovative study programmes designed to meet real needs," he said.
"It will benefit from the vitality brought by the unique partnership between the university and ICL and will be an important driver in the creation of a knowledge-based economy in Northern Ireland," he said.
Springvale Village will have an applied research centre, drawing on UU's existing work in bio-engineering and bio-medicine, along with multimedia applications.