Creating a Successful High-Tech Engineering Business in Northern Ireland

Creating a Successful High-Tech Engineering Business in Northern Ireland

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Creating a Successful High-Tech Engineering Business in Northern Ireland


Section Page

1 Introduction 3

2.1 Competition 3
2.2 Funding 4
2.3 Recruitment 4
2.4 Location 5
2.5 Technical Innovation 5 2.6 Global Market Trends 6

3 Conclusion 6

4 References 7

1 Introduction

The aim of this report is to describe the factors associated with creating and developing a high- tech engineering business in Northern Ireland. There are many business related factors that need to be considered before entering an unknown market, especially the high- tech engineering market, which is constantly changing. Compared to the same market in the likes of the United States, where it is well established, this type of market is a relatively new concept to Northern Ireland. It is for this reason that market research and business planning is so important before pursuing a venture like this. In this study, some of the main aspects that a new business faces will be explored and analysed.

2.1 Competition

One of the most important factors associated with setting up a new business is competition. At the outset a new business will have to identify any possible competitors, and then formulate a set of aims and objectives in order to compete. Carrying out in depth research of the market and maybe talking to competitors is key before a business commits itself. A business will need to establish a benchmark before entering an unknown market. For the likes of a high-tech business starting up in Northern Ireland, it may be wise to compromise with competition and maybe set up a joint venture in order to compete globally. An example of this would be the Thales defence company. This company teamed up with Lockheed Martin (the worlds leading defence company) on one of their missile programmes which not only enabled them to compete globally but also give them recognition in the United States. Also, the company was able to gain extra funding to feed into there research and development programme, enabling them to carry out testing which would be unheard of in this country. As a result of this, Thales made a so- called ‘name’ for themselves in the global defence market, and attracted contracts from Lookheed Martin on future projects.

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"Creating a Successful High-Tech Engineering Business in Northern Ireland." 24 May 2019

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2.2 Funding

Another important factor to consider is finding funding for start- up. A business will need to analyse if adequate funding is available for start- up and to ensure the day to day operations can run efficiently. There are many different sources for start- up funding. There are regional and government grants, banks, venture capitalists, and business angels- these are rich individuals with a keen interest for business opportunities. In the case of Northern Ireland, a government or regional grant would be a good avenue to pursue. The government have been known to be generous in the case of high- tech engineering firms seeking start- up funding, especially if the company is set to employ a large workforce. A good example of this, dates back to the 1980’s when the De Lorean Motor Company set up operations in Northern Ireland. In this case, the company obtained huge sums of money from the government and Industrial Development Board as a means of start- up capital. Although, this example is significant as it was during the Troubles, employment was at an all time low and the country had just went through a recession. Therefore, at this time it would have been the government’s prerogative to do there up most to attract new business to the country.

2.3 Recruitment

One of the most important factors associated with any business are its workforce. The workforce is especially important to a high- tech engineering business. A business will need to address whether people with the correct qualifications are available for recruitment. It is essential that a business of this nature acquires a suitable workforce enabling them to operate efficiently. Furthermore, for a business operating in this sector of the market, there is a high likelihood that they will have to provide training to new members of their workforce, in order to tailor them to their specific activities. However, if the business pays extra attention to employing people with the correct attributes, then it’s just a case of carrying out some on- the- job training, ensuring they have the necessary skills to perform their job at highest level. Of course starting- up in Northern Ireland also has benefits such as the abundance of high quality graduates in science, mathematics and engineering related courses each year, which would definitely aid the recruitment process. However, recent research has shown that the biggest challenge the Northern Ireland economy now faces is the decline in students seeking to pursue these courses at university, so a new business may have to address this.

2.4 Location

Location is an important factor a new business has to take in account, as it can not only lower costs but also increase efficiency. Ideally for any business, being close to the target market holds many benefits, such as lower transportation costs, increased efficiency and greater customer satisfaction due to shorter delivery periods. However, this is more dependent on the type of business. In the case of a high- tech engineering business in Northern Ireland, a lot of the target market may be overseas which is why a new business should concentrate more on locating close to a good infrastructure. A good example of this is Bombardier, which are located on the outskirts of Belfast, with easy access to major roads and beside the Belfast docks. This is particularly beneficial to this company as a large portion of their raw materials and finished products are distributed via shipping. Also employs can commute to and from work easier due to the company’s location in relation to Belfast. Another benefit Bombardier possess is that they are close to two major universities, namely Queen’s and Jordanstown. This is advantageous as they are close to a lot of potential skilled graduates, and have good links with students who may be working on research projects for their company- carrying out research in this manner can be extremely cost saving.

2.5 Technical Innovation

This is something that any new high- tech business in Northern Ireland must take into consideration. At present technical innovation is increasing at an exponential rate which is where a carefully executed business plan is crucial. A new business will need to draw up a set of aims and objectives outlining there future expectations. They will need to decide whether or not they can keep up with technical innovation, as it may most likely put great strain on the business as a result of investing fund into research and development, or form a strategy that will enable them to address the problem and allow them to compete effectively. The Thales company are a good example to refer to as the nature of their business incorporates a lengthy period of time between research and development, and actual production of the product. The average length of time from R&D to production of a missile at Thales is 10- 15 years. As a result of this, engineers at Thales have to constantly update and modify a product through its life cycle, otherwise when it came to production the product may not integrate into the system it was designed for.

2.6 Global Market Trends

A new business will need to pay extra attention to global market trends, and ideally should carry out some market research before embarking on a new business venture. If a business carries out adequate market research they may be able to predict shifting market trends and may not have to take as many risks in order to compete, furthermore this can guarantee some future stability. Also a business should keep in mind the bigger picture i.e. what is happening globally and not just in Northern Ireland. Sometimes a business may have to take more drastic measures to respond to market trends such as changing their operations or restructuring. Harland and Wolff are a prime example of this. From once having up to 35,000 employees, 2 years ago the company filed for small business status having their workforce reduced to a mere 150. This came about as a result of a drop in demand of their original products and global competition. Nowadays the company has restructured and is regarded more as a high- tech engineering design firm.

3 Conclusion

In conclusion a new high- tech engineering business has a lot of factors to consider before entering such a high risk market. Personally, I feel that a good staring point is researching the market in depth, not just locally but globally, and as I mentioned before talking to competitors has its benefits. Acquiring a taste for what’s going on in the market can then aid a business to formulate its aims and objectives. A good set of aims and objectives coupled with a good business plan is a great staring point for any business. Furthermore, a well outlined business plan is imperative should the business be seeking start- up funds from the likes of the government. A business should take advantage of this taking into account that the Northern Ireland government are very generous as far as funding is concerned regarding new high- tech engineering ventures in the country.

4 References

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