Yesterday, Rio Ferdinand officially opened the office of New Era Global Sports Management at the Innovation Factory in Belfast. This is the first satellite office for the agency, which represents some of the world’s top sports talent.

Ferdinand, New Era Ambassador, is pictured with Shane Smith, Innovation Factory Community Engagement Officer (left), and former professional player Lee Mudd, who is running the Belfast office.

Heron Bros successfully delivered the award-winning inner-city Innovation Factory in 2016. The turnkey design and build project provides approximately 55,000 square feet of innovation space which supports up to 400 jobs. The building is intended for start-up companies, as well as existing small to medium enterprises in Belfast. The accommodation includes 382 workstations across 111 business units, and will house more than 100 businesses and entrepreneurs at full capacity. The offices are fully fitted to Grade A standard, and provide flexibility to allow expansion as individual tenants grow.

New Era Global Sports Management, which represents the interests of Ferdinand, Mick McCarthy, Harry Redknapp and Robbie Savage, was launched on Tuesday at the Innovation Factory on the Springfield Road.

Ferdinand said: “It doesn’t matter where you come from, if you are good enough then the opportunities are there. It is about creating a pathway for these young players and helping them in their careers.”

The Belfast office is run by former professional footballer, Lee Mudd, who says the agency was drawn by the vast untapped potential talent throughout the island of Ireland. He wanted to start the business at Innovation Factory as it gives him the flexibility to grow the business.

“We are in a growth phase and this gives us the chance to build our business and increase capacity as needed. We also liked the networking opportunities with other businesses that have ambitious plans; it offers us the chance to feed off this energy and new ideas.”

Shane Smith, Innovation Factory’s community engagement officer, added:

“We are very excited to welcome such a prestigious sports agency to Northern Ireland. New Era Sports has recognised the facilities and support we have to offer, and we look forward to helping them expand their activities in Northern Ireland.”

Innovation Factory is owned by Belfast City Council and operated on their behalf by Oxford Innovation. The £9.1m business hub was funded by Belfast City Council and Invest NI with support from the European Regional Development Fund.

Customers include a range of start-ups and growing businesses in a variety of sectors including digital services, creative industries, business services, financial services and research and development.

Check out the full project profile here: