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The information is accurate as of 31 December 2022.
Data courtesy of Beauhurst.

Analysis Report: Economic and Business Activity in Belfast


Belfast’s economic landscape showcases a diverse range of sectors with significant activities in wholesale, retail trade, professional services, real estate, and information and communication. The city demonstrates a robust employment scenario with 279,726 employees, and a notable growth in businesses, particularly in innovative sectors like SaaS and mobile apps. The data reflects a dynamic business environment with a mix of established industries and emerging technologies.

Employment and Business Growth

  • Total Employees: Belfast has a total of 279,726 employees. The city has experienced a positive trend in employment, with 1,585 businesses reporting an increase in their workforce.
  • Employee Growth Percentage: The city has seen an 8.81% growth in employment, indicating a healthy economic environment conducive to job creation.
  • Top Sectors by Employment: The leading sectors in terms of employment are wholesale and retail trade, professional, scientific, and technical activities, and real estate activities. This diversification suggests a balanced economic structure.

Sector Dynamics

  • Top Sectors by Company Count: The leading sectors include wholesale and retail trade (12.19%), professional services (11.72%), and real estate activities (9.22%). Information and communication, as well as construction, also play significant roles.
  • Top Growing Sectors: Sectors like SaaS, business and professional services, analytics, mobile apps, and internet platforms are rapidly growing, indicating a shift towards digital and technology-based industries.

Business Continuity

  • Company Cessations: Out of 21,015 companies, 1,590 have ceased operations, reflecting a natural ebb and flow in the business lifecycle within the city.
  • Number of New Companies in 2 Years: There have been 4,359 new companies in the last two years, showcasing a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and a conducive environment for new business ventures.
  • SMEs and Exporters: With 14,140 SMEs and 279 exporters, Belfast shows a strong backbone of small and medium-sized enterprises contributing significantly to the economy.

Innovation and Investment

  • Fundraisings and Patents: The city has witnessed 60 fundraisings and has 3,996 patent owners, signaling an environment that fosters innovation and investment.
  • Number of Scale-ups: 132 scale-ups in the city highlight its capacity to support growing businesses.

Gender Diversity in Leadership

  • Founders by Gender: 21.95% female founders and 77.38% male founders indicate a gender gap in entrepreneurial leadership.
  • Directors by Gender: A similar trend is seen in directorship, with 24.04% female and 70.95% male directors.


Belfast’s economic and business activity paints a picture of a robust, diverse, and growing economy. The city thrives in traditional sectors while also embracing new, technology-driven industries. However, there is a notable gender gap in leadership roles that could be addressed to ensure more inclusive growth.

Company foundations and cessations over time

Active companies over time

The information is accurate as of 31 December 2022.
Data courtesy of Beauhurst.