Almost 800 jobs are being created in Belfast by professional services firm PwC over the next five years.

The 771 posts are part of a £40m investment in the company's new Advanced Research and Engineering Centre, which will open in the city next month.

The new centre is part of PwC's Operate division, which is based in Belfast.

Business support agency Invest Northern Ireland (Invest NI) has contributed almost £10m in support of the investment.

PwC will also collaborate with Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University to create an additional 38 research roles.

Ian McConnell, partner lead for PwC Operate, made the investment announcement today at the soon-to-be-opened centre in Merchant Square, close to City Hall.

"Our goal is to turn amazing ideas into technology that'll solve complex business problems into the next decade and beyond," he said.

"We're creating a team of engineers and technologists who'll work within a bigger innovation ecosystem, including government, academia and business, to help our clients take giant leaps, rather than incremental steps," he added.

The jobs announcement was newly-appointed Economy Minister Paul Frew's first public engagement in the role.

"This significant investment by PwC is a vote of confidence in the talent of our local workforce and the success it has already achieved here," he said.

"With almost £10m of support from Invest Northern Ireland towards the new centre, this investment will lead to the creation of almost 800 new jobs, which will generate approximately £25m in additional annual salaries for our economy," Paul Frew said.

Kevin Holland, chief executive of Invest NI, said the agency has been working with PwC since 2011.

"With our support, the local management have successfully positioned NI as a key hub for PwC UK, helping to grow its presence in Northern Ireland from 650 employees to over 2,500," Mr Holland said.

"I am delighted that we have been able to secure the company's further growth ambitions in Northern Ireland, with the Research and Engineering Centre as the latest outcome of our working relationship," he added.

Invest NI's support was part-financed by EU funds secured prior to Brexit.

The money was drawn down from the European Regional Development Fund under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020.