On the second day of UKREiiF, both Wrightbus CEO, Buta Atwal, and Wayne Hemingway MBE, Founder of Hemingway Design, were in attendance as VIP Speakers on the ‘Belfast Region – A £1bn Decade of Opportunity’ panel in the Bury Theatre, alongside other senior leaders from councils in the Belfast region, focusing on the significant potential for the cleantech and innovation sector and for tourism and regeneration.

During the discussion, they specifically focused on the two new major initiatives accelerating the Belfast region’s potential; the Belfast Agenda with its target of attracting 66,000 people to live and work in the city centre and 31,600 homes by 2035 – and the £1 billion Belfast Region City Deal, which will deliver innovation and jobs for a new economic era achieving true levelling up.

Buta Atwal also commented that Northern Ireland’s unique position in the wake of Brexit makes his and other companies in the region ideally positioned to trade across both the UK and EU.

The session was organised by Renewed Ambition, a partnership focused on positioning Belfast and the wider city region to take advantage of the opportunity to drive residential and commercial real estate investment and support inclusive economic recovery.

The Renewed Ambition delegation travelled to Leeds for the three-day UK Real Estate Investment & Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF) annual event with the aim of championing the region’s unique investment opportunities to a pre-qualified, tailored audience of high-level investors, occupiers and government bodies.

The Renewed Ambition partnership – including local government, occupiers, developers, the supply chain and more tactically used UKREiiF as a strong platform to detail how they intend to deliver a collaborative programme of activity to help ensure strong recovery and growth in Belfast and across the wider region by highlighting its compelling investment proposition globally. It is made up of the councils of Belfast, Antrim and Newtownabbey, Ards and North Down, Mid and East Antrim, Newry, Mourne and Down and Lisburn and Castlereagh City.

Joe O’Neill, Chief Executive, Belfast Harbour and Chair of Renewed Ambition, said in the lead up to the event: “We will tell the story of the Belfast region to an investor-ready audience. Belfast and the Belfast City Region are now internationally recognised as being alive with entrepreneurial spirit, ambition, and optimism. We have a strong track record in attracting global occupiers and investors in real estate.

“We have strong fundamentals in place evidencing the real estate market performance since 2015, as well as the tangible prospect of an upsurge in Build to Rent with a major opportunity for first mover advantage. So we’re bringing the message of an energised and ambitious city and city region with real confidence to investors and occupiers who want to understand more about the wealth of unique investment and development opportunities on offer.”

Chief Executive of Belfast City Council, John Walsh said: “We are going to UKREiiF with a very clear message: the Belfast region is primed for investment and offers a unique set of opportunities which are unmatched the world over. Through the £1 billion Belfast Region City Deal and the Belfast Agenda, we have set out the pathways for inclusive growth across all areas of our economy and are intent on creating the conditions for businesses to flourish.

“As a standalone opportunity, the Belfast region’s offer is impressive. Combined with the support of initiatives, such as the Belfast Region City Deal and other funding opportunities, it offers a compelling investment proposition which has and will draw international attention.”

We’re confident that these major schemes will receive plenty of interest given the sheer number of experienced investors and developers who were present in Leeds and are extremely excited to hear about the progression of these developments and the value they add to the region as they gain momentum.