I was delighted to attend the launch of Atlantic Link Enterprise Campus at the University of Ulster in Coleraine. The launch was a culmination of several years of work, which I am glad to have been a part of, and see come to fruition.
Atlantic Link Enterprise Campus is Northern Ireland’s first enterprise zone and is a fantastic opportunity to attract world leading companies to Coleraine and the surrounding region. An enterprise zone is an area in which businesses will benefit from enhanced capital allowances and other incentives. Atlantic Link Enterprise Campus is even more inviting for firms given its proximity to Project Kelvin.
Project Kelvin is an extensive fibre optic cable system which connects Europe and continental North America. It comes ashore one kilometre from the Atlantic Link Campus meaning Coleraine has the fastest connection between the United Kingdom and North America, with data crossing the Atlantic in 0.066 of a second. The first tenant of the Atlantic Link Campus will be 5Nines, a global data centre company, which will launch Northern Ireland’s first carrier neutral data centre in January 2018.
Project Kelvin, 5Nines Data Centre, the enhanced capital allowances of the enterprise zone and the stream of talented graduates from the University of Ulster and our other regional universities, mean that Coleraine is now an extremely attractive location for the multi-national companies. Coleraine can now compete on a global stage in attracting companies and creating high calibre jobs. The prospective benefits for this area are huge, with the possibility of thousands of jobs and opportunities for innovation. Coleraine could be at the forefront of leading the way in this digital era.
The benefits of Atlantic Link Campus are not only limited to this region, which could benefit from an increase in jobs, commercial investment and expertise, but also can reach to the entire United Kingdom. The digital economy is responsible for a substantial proportion of our economic stability.
Whilst this project has taken longer than I had hoped, the timing has provided unforeseen opportunities. Brexit now means that companies who may have located in the Republic of Ireland, may now be more likely to locate in Coleraine in order to have access to the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland has a window of opportunity as a result of Brexit and the implications for businesses who want to keep links with Europe and the United Kingdom easily. Atlantic Link Campus is a perfect place to facilitate those links and companies will not have to think hard in order to recognise it.
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council are looking for companies to submit their bids to tender, with more information being available at www.atlanticlinkcampus.com or by emailing [email protected].
For me, this project is about more than the businesses located within the Campus, it is about the benefits it could bring to this area for years to come. The digital economy is a fast changing, lucrative market, which requires skills and talent that our workforce possess. Too many of our graduates find themselves moving away from this area in order to find work. By attracting these companies, we can retain the skilled graduates that our wonderful universities train to such a high level. By doing so, we could create a future of innovation within this region for the next generation.
The potential is huge, and I hope I can play a role in securing the success this project and this area deserves.