Heron Bros Ltd is building the new state­-of-­the ­art business centre on part of the former Mackie’s plant which is to be named the Innovation Factory in recognition of the site’s industrial heritage.

Work on the £9.1 million centre, at Forthriver Business Park off Springfield Road, is due to complete in May 2016. It will provide annual support services to over 100 businesses and entrepreneurs, with 382 workstations across 111 business units.
The project is part­funded by Invest Northern Ireland (£2.1 million) and the European Regional Development Fund, under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland (£4.15 million). Belfast City Council is providing the remaining funding as part of its Investment Programme for the city.
The new name was chosen following consultation with local residents, businesses and community groups, as well as other stakeholders. They were asked to put forward suggestions which paid homage to the manufacturing and engineering legacy of the Forthriver area, but also highlighted the cutting edge solutions the centre will enable through specialist business services, collaboration, research and development.

The industrial theme may also be reflected in the building’s creatively decorated interior, with areas named after key parts of the industrial plant, for example, ‘Engine Room’, ‘The Yard’ and ‘The Forge’.
“This is a pivotal development for local communities, as well as the wider city, so I’m pleased to see that the site’s key role in Belfast’s history is being remembered in our exciting plans for its future,” said the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Arder Carson.

“Now that building work is really gathering pace, so too is work behind the scenes to make sure the Innovation Factory is successful in attracting the best up and coming talent, and fostering a real spirit of collaboration amongst the next generation of business brains.”

An operator will soon be appointed to run the 55,000 sq ft centre, which will support up to 400 jobs, encourage local and foreign direct investment and contribute to local social regeneration.
Once appointed, the operator will undertake the marketing of the Innovation Factory to prospective businesses, with the first tenants expected to take up residence by the autumn.

In the meantime, interested clients can contact the council’s Economic Development Unit on 028 9027 0482 or email economicdevelopment@belfastcity.gov.uk for more information.

For more information on this project please contact Shauna Young by emailing shauna.young@heronbros.com or telephone (+44) 02879 628505.