The Ormeau Baths innovation space in Belfast has announced expansion plans that will see it double in size by taking the second half of the former Victorian Bathhouse building in which it opened just over 12 months ago.
Ormeau Baths is an entrepreneurial workspace supporting indigenous tech start-ups and helping them gain access to the networks, funding and expertise needed to succeed in global markets.
The Baths officially opened in July 2017 alongside its major corporate partner Barclays, which has established its first Eagle Lab in Belfast in the new technology hub, and other strategic partners, including early stage investment fund TechstartNI.
The expansion, which represents an investment of almost £1m, will create more flexible spaces for growing tech businesses and allow Ormeau Baths to support start-ups who have previously outgrown the co-working space for longer.
Since opening the centre has had more than 16,000 people pass through and attend over 500 events held in their purpose-built event space, ranging from white hat hacker gatherings to product tank meet-ups and pitch contests.
During the first year Ormeau Baths has seen over 50% of their companies grow their teams or revenues and between them they have raised over £10m in venture funding.
Success stories include Modius creators Neurovalens and consultancy White Space Ventures, both of whom have subsequently gone on to expand and relocate into their own offices.
“When we opened the vision was to create a genuine start-up community and a hub that could become the beating heart of Belfast’s tech community for the growing number of start-ups currently being founded and scaling up across the city,” said co-founder Steve Pette.
“We originally envisaged Ormeau Baths becoming the natural home for tech meet ups, hackathons and pitch events where early stage and advanced start-ups could learn from one another, gain access to corporates and attract potential investors. This has certainly happened beyond our wildest dreams and we are incredibly excited about what the next phase will bring.”
Partner Jon Bradford added: “Northern Ireland and Belfast has repeatedly demonstrated that it can compete head-on with any other community in the UK and beyond.
“Our expansion will create more opportunities to support more businesses and job creation in this knowledge economy.”
Co-founder Mark Dowds said: “Ormeau Baths has from the outset been about looking outwards to what’s possible.
“What we’ve seen in our first year is a positive reflection of the very real sense of excitement and ambition in Belfast at the moment and a growing sense of confidence in what can be achieved by the tech founders and established businesses here who already have customers and investors from around the world.
“We’ve received fantastic support from a number of high achieving tech exiles who want to put something back into home and we would love to connect with others who now call London, New York, San Francisco or other global cities home.”