Danske Bank has announced plans to take its support for the tech sector in Northern Ireland to a new level by converting the ground floor of its headquarters in Belfast into a brand new co-working space specifically for financial technology start-ups.
Catalyst Belfast Fintech will be run in partnership with Catalyst Inc and will be dedicated to the growing cluster of early stage technology companies operating in the finance space who are ambitious to scale up and expand into new markets.
With plans to open by early September, work has already begun on the space located alongside the bank’s flagship branch on Donegall Square West, which is also undergoing a major refurbishment.
The space, which will feature a mix of permanent and hot desks, a coffee area, and a unique event space inside the bank’s former safe, will also provide access to a dedicated Growth Adviser and Community Manager, the networks of both organisations as well as 24/7 access for tenants.
David Allister, Head of Digital Partnerships and Alliances at Danske Bank, who will oversee the space, said: “Currently too many local fintech entrepreneurs are moving to London or Manchester or Dublin. We want to see the sector grow in Northern Ireland and we want to put Belfast on a global map as a fintech hub. We believe we have a role to play in making that happen.
“It’s important for fintechs to have a community. We’re creating a fantastic environment for collaboration that means we can share knowledge to help them grow, but more importantly will give them the opportunity to become part of a fintech community located in the heart of Belfast. And as part of a leading European banking network, we can also help plug these companies into our network of fintech hubs and partner banks around the world.
“This is very much a co-working space for the city. The community will be run principally by Catalyst Inc, who bring extensive experience and a proven model of building a collaborative ecosystem. We see this as a natural development of our existing partnership with Catalyst Inc and believe the Fintech hub as essential for the growth of the fintech sector in Northern Ireland.”
The space will be run by a team of four from Danske Bank and Catalyst Inc, including a Growth Adviser, Community Manager and Hub Manager.
Mervyn Watley, Director of Corporate Real Estate and Facilities from Catalyst Inc said: “This is an exciting opportunity for Belfast and the wider region to grow our existing Fintech sector by nurturing, supporting and encouraging Fintech entrepreneurs and innovators. The sector is undergoing huge change particularly with the advancement of new technologies and business models and this hub will provide a unique collaborative environment to inspire, incubate and scale entrepreneurship and innovation within the sector. We are delighted to be partnering with Danske Bank, and harnessing the experience, knowledge and networks from both organisations we believe will unlock many opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators across the sector.”
Danske Bank and Catalyst Inc will be showcasing the new co-working space at the Digital DNA event at St George’s Market on 19th and 20th June.