Opened officially by Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry, the striking new e3 facility will enhance the employability of students, stimulate enterprise, and promote innovative approaches to economic development.
Belfast Met has unveiled an £18 million boost to the local economy in the form of the high-spec, ultra high-tech ‘e3’ economic development building.
Funded by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) and the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), the highly innovative Springvale-based facility will enhance the employability skills of students, stimulate enterprise through business incubation and programme development, and foster enhanced approaches to economic development.
Speaking at the official opening, Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry reiterated the importance of putting economic development at the top of the agenda. Praising the expertise and practical contribution of the FE sector in engaging with local businesses and industry and addressing the skills needs, the Minister said that “the new state-of-the-art facility can deliver the flexibility necessary to meet the needs of a modern economy.”
Marie-Thérèse McGivern, Principal and Chief Executive of Belfast Metropolitan College, spoke of the contribution that e3 will make to the social and economic regeneration of North and West Belfast and to the wider economic resurgence of the city as a whole.
“Its completion represents a proud moment in the 100-year history of our College as we continue our long tradition of working collaboratively with business and industry in stimulating enterprise, enhancing the employability of learners and driving economic growth,” she said.
“We are thrilled to be in a position to offer such a wonderful, innovative and unique facility to our students, to the local community, to the business sector and to our many partners from right across the public, private and voluntary sectors.
I am certain that e3 will become a focal point for creative collaboration and that it will help support much wider business growth and competitiveness.”
Designed to accommodate up to 500 users on a daily basis, the 5,000 square-metre building houses specialist zones dedicated to digital media, manufacturing technology, catering, business incubation, SME training and renewable technologies.
Marie-Thérèse McGivern continued: “e3 is an outstanding and dynamic response to local economic needs. There is little doubt that it will become a model for the innovative use of new and emerging technologies and that it will serve as a high-tech hub for creativity, technical inventiveness and business innovation.
“Crucially, however, e3 will also push the potential of our students, giving them the opportunity to work collaboratively with businesses on practical ‘real-life’ projects while using the latest equipment amid an ultra-modern, high-spec learning environment.”
The location of e3 within Belfast Met’s Springvale campus and adjacent to the College’s Community Learning Centre will ensure a natural synergy between both sites with the latter focused on widening access to life and work skills.