Research & Innovation

Brian Conlon 2015 Innovation Founder

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Brian Conlon 2015 Innovation Founder

Brian Conlon 2015 Innovation Founder
September 03
16:51 2015

Northern Ireland Science Park CONNECT  announced that its prestigious 2015 Innovation Founder Award, supported by Bank of Ireland UK, goes to Brian Conlon, a man who retains his humble nature while being one of the country’s most successful businessmen.

Brian has grown a grassroots financial technology business into a global powerhouse, while maintaining its base in Northern Ireland.

First Derivatives began in Brian’s spare bedroom in Newry in 1996, with just a £5,000 loan from the Credit Union, which makes the twenty-year story of its success even more astounding. Last year, First Derivatives posted earnings of £83.2m, a 19 per cent compound annual growth rate. It has acquired no less than four companies and its global workforce numbers more than 1,200. First Derivatives’ core business – managing Big Fast Data through software and services to the financial industry – remains firmly grounded in Newry, whilst dealing with some of the largest financial institutions on every continent.

Brian Conlon’s career began with training in capital markets at KPMG and then working in risk management at Morgan Stanley in London. Moving into software, he worked for SunGuard with more than 60 financial institutions worldwide. He then returned to Northern Ireland to set up First Derivatives.

Adding to a long list of deserved accolades throughout his career, Brian Conlon will receive top honours on October 8that the NISP Connect INVENT 2015 Awards. INVENT is a competition for inventors, scientists, entrepreneurs and students to pitch their prototypes and new inventions to Northern Ireland’s technology and commercial leaders. The highest honour, the Innovation Founder Award, recognises an exceptional individual leading a local knowledge economy business. The INVENT Awards evening is a showcase event, where many of Northern Ireland’s biggest names in business will convene for an inspiring night of invention.

I’m honoured to accept this award on behalf of everyone in Northern Ireland who has helped make First Derivatives a success,” said Brian Conlon. “My company was founded with the idea that the best innovations can come from Northern Ireland, because the most talented people are in this country. I’ve never doubted that our Newry base has been instrumental in our success. We’ve always focused on being cutting-edge and pushing frontiers in banking and financial services. With a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work, any innovator in Northern Ireland can follow this path.”

Julie Ann O’Hare, Director of Business Banking, Bank of Ireland UK, in congratulating Brian, said, “As one of Northern Ireland’s three Plc companies we are proud to have been bankers to First Derivatives from its early stages right through to public listing and acquisition strategy. Its success story resonates with so many of the core attributes required for creating commercial value and delivering economic growth in Northern Ireland. Their success has been fuelled by ambition to build a world-leading business, investing in the talent needed to realise potential and the continued desire to innovate, to find new ways of doing things.”

Past recipients of the award include Dr William Wright of Wrightbus (2014), Dr Peter FitzGerald, Managing Director of Randox Laboratories Ltd (2013), and Tom Eakin of TG Eakin (2012). Brian Conlon was nominated by a member of the public and selected for this year’s award by the previous honourees.

Steve Orr, Director of NISP CONNECT, said, “Brian Conlon is the consummate entrepreneur, with tenacity matching the world’s most successful people. The fact that he came back to Northern Ireland after meeting great success in London tells a story in itself. Without a strong talent pool in science and technology, his company would have struggled in its infancy, but the fact remains that NI is a hotbed of innovation and we have the highly qualified workforce to support it. First Derivatives’ story exemplifies Northern Ireland’s culture of business incubation, something that we work tirelessly to foster at the Science Park.”

Tickets for the INVENT night on 8th October are still available. They can be obtained at:

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