Government officials and VIPs from China have visited Derry-Londonderry as part of a celebration of Chinese culture marking four key historic anniversaries.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle welcomed the major delegation, led by the Chinese Consul General in Belfast Madame Zhang Meifang, as well as cultural performers who led a colourful showcase of traditional Chinese music and dance.

Mayor Boyle said the event was another opportunity to strengthen local relations with China.

“This is the latest in a series of meetings and engagements between local partners in business and education which have been establishing strong ties between the North West and China,” she said.

“I look forward to continuing to explore the future prospects that these discussions may present to the benefit of both our countries, based on our shared interests and ambitions.”

Events were held in both Derry and Belfast in September by the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Belfast to celebrate four events: the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, the 65th Anniversary of UK – China Relations, the 5th year of the Chinese Consul General locating in Belfast, and China National Day, which is traditionally celebrated on October 1st.

A China National Day Dinner Celebration also took place in the Guildhall hosted by Madame Zhang, Mayor Boyle, and members of the local Sai Pac Chinese community.

A cybersecurity company has announced 70 new jobs in Derry-Londonderry as part of a £4.5 million investment.

Based in the city, MetaComplance develops cloud software for cybersecurity and compliance, providing software solutions and e-learning content to educate employees on the dangers of a cyberattack.

The firm is looking to grow its business into new markets in the US and Europe. The 70 new jobs, which will help develop the cybersecurity learning market via cloud-based solutions, will inject an estimated £1.9 million per year in additional salaries into the local economy.

MetaCompliance chief executive Robert O’Brien said: “Our ambition is to be internationally recognised in our field of expertise. We have seen a rapid global increase in the demand of cybersecurity products and services, particularly since GDPR has been implemented.

Invest Northern Ireland has offered £695,000 of support towards creating the new jobs and market development activity.

John Hood of Invest NI said: “MetaCompliance is already a strongly established business within the cybersecurity sector. The creation of these jobs will build upon its previous success and help the company to expand its presence in the North West, the cybersecurity market, and in new markets.

Invest NI has previously supported MetaCompliance with job creation investment in 2017; management and digital training for employee development; and R&D support for its Voyager and MyCompliance Cloud user awareness cloud solutions. The company is also currently receiving support through Invest NI’s Skills Growth Programme.

Alchemy Technology Services has announced their partnership with Silicon Valley software company Guidewire PartnerConnect as a consulting alliance member at the Select level.

The Derry~Londonderry based firm has made the announcement just under a year after its official launch in the city last September. Since then, Alchemy has employed 62 full time permanent staff against its three year target of 250+ staff to work on insurance software implementation projects across Europe.

 “We are pleased to join Guidewire PartnerConnect as a Consulting partner, especially given that our focus on collaboration and investing in our people aligns us both culturally and operationally with Guidewire,” said John Harkin, the company’s CEO and Founder. “This is a great acknowledgement of the work we have done over the past year and to be in partnership with an industry leader such as Guidewire confirms that we are moving in the right direction. We look forward to working with Guidewire and helping to ensure that insurers’ digitization projects are delivered with the expertise needed globally.”

“We welcome Alchemy Technology Services as a Guidewire alliance member,” said Lisa Walsh, vice president of Global Alliances at Guidewire Software. “We are pleased to work with a company whose values are consistent with our own, and we are excited to expand our relationship with them.”

Alchemy Technologies provides talent and resources to support insurers in their efforts to modernize and grow their technology platforms. Alchemy’s near-shore resourcing allows for quick and efficient deployment of services to insurers across Europe. Backing from Invest NI and the Department for the Economy supports the company’s intensive training plans enabling them to provide fully certified consultants.

Guidewire PartnerConnect’s consulting partners provide consulting services in areas such as business transformation and strategy and implementation, as well as in related delivery services. It is a subsidiary of Guidewire Software, who provides software, services, and partners ecosystem to enable customers to run, differentiate, and grow their business, serving more than 350 companies in 40 countries.

The city of Derry~Londonderry’s tourism sector is thriving, enjoying record occupancy levels and welcoming thousands of visitors each year. The latest addition to the city’s portfolio is the new Holiday Inn Express Hotel, which opened its doors in July 2019.

The Holiday Inn Express is part of the Intercontinental Hotels Group, a global company representing 12 hotel brands including Intercontinental Hotels, Crown Plaza Hotels and Hotel Indigo, with over 5,000 partner hotels worldwide. The hotel will be managed by Interstate Hotels and Resorts, one of the world’s leading independent multinational hotel operators. These International partnerships and globally renowned brands will provide the hotel and its team with unique access to a world-class portfolio of knowledge, operational and reporting systems and training initiatives to achieve the very highest standards of delivery.

The £7m development will support the wider tourist and hospitality industry in Northern Ireland and provide a new base for visitors to explore the city and surrounding areas. The hotel will create 44 new jobs, generating employment and business opportunities for service providers in the region.

General Manager Stephen Redden commented “We are committed to building a dynamic, passionate and professional team capable of delivering a first-class service for our guests. Our global brand partnerships will enable us to offer ongoing development opportunities for our employees ensuring the hotel is committed to continually enhancing skills, capabilities and knowledge.”

The hotel is the second largest in the city with 119 modern bedrooms and plans are already underway to further increase capacity to 150 bedrooms by early 2020. All bedrooms are air-conditioned and offer appealing amenities such as internet ready Smart TVs, blackout blinds and a free Express Start™ Breakfast for all guests. The hotel’s Express Bar and Café offers an informal all-day dining menu and two on-site meeting rooms can accommodate up to 12 delegates.

Phase 2 of the development is currently in progress to further transform the site with the addition of a stylish independent bar, a chic destination restaurant and 22 modern self-catering apartments, all due to open in 2020.

W: www.hiexpress.com/derry-ldnderry

Contact: Aoife Thomas salesmanager@hixderry.com

T: +44 2871 162400

North West Regional College (NWRC) has scooped two prestigious awards at the local annual Business Awards.

Derry’ is set to host its inaugural LegenDerry Street Food Festival Friday 19 to Sunday 21 July, Derry City and Strabane District Council has announced today.

The European Union has announced that it will provide almost €9m (£7.98m) in funding for a 30-acre park that will cross the Northern Ireland border.

he project spans 30 acres linking Strabane and Lifford

The Riverine project, which is designed to increase cross-border understanding, will stretch from Strabane, a town in west Tyrone, to Lifford, a town in the neighboring county of Donegal.

The money comes from a €270m pot of funding that was created by the EU in 2014 to support peace and reconciliation projects in both Northern Ireland and the counties in Ireland that sit along the seamless border.

Some €9m will also be provided by Ireland’s rural and community development department, and Northern Ireland’s communities department.

Gina McIntyre, from the EU body that awards the funding, noted that the project would create a “shared space which citizens can enjoy together, irrespective of their background.”

The money will be used to build a pavilion building, outdoor wetland and park space, cross-border pathways, and a pedestrian footbridge that will span the River Foyle. Riverine will host a community heritage engagement programme and a culture and peace activity trail.

A creative arts programme and a shared space connections project are also planned.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Michaela Boyle said that the project could be a “real catalyst for transformation” and said that it would “further strengthen” cross-border links.

Ireland’s Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, said the EU funding “is a major boost for the area”.

Tracy Meharg, Permanent Secretary for the Department for Communities said the project “provides a great opportunity to further our ambitions for a shared, welcoming and confident society that respects diversity.”

MULTI-award winning technology giant Allstate is in negotiations to move into a new purpose-built 850-seat flagship office block in Derry, the Irish News can reveal.

The company, one of Northern Ireland’s first major IT inward investors, is understood to have identified a site at Ebrington, and expects the building to be open within two to three years.

The ambitious move will consolidate its operations in the north west, where it already employs around 800 staff at sites in Derry’s Northland Road and in Strabane.

The existing city office is likely to close under the new arrangement, but the Strabane facility will be retained, and it is thought a significant number of new jobs will be added to its current 2,100-strong payroll.

The company would not reveal exact details of the relocation when contacted by the Irish News given the early stages of its vision.

But a spokesman confirmed that “our real estate team in the US is currently in talks with developers” about creating the new Derry hub.

Allstate is already running at maximum capacity in Derry, and such is the speed of its organic growth that is it having to hire 100 seats at the Catalyst science park building in the city just to alleviate its current capacity problem.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of the Allstate Corporation, the largest publicly owned property and casualty insurance company in the US, Allstate has been a significant part of the business landscape in Northern Ireland for 20 years.

And its latest expansion will be seen as demonstrating confidence in the region’s highly educated workforce, competitive cost base and its research and development capability.

The Derry facility will be a slightly smaller scale version of the new 140,000 sq ft headquarters building which Allstate opened at Mays Meadow in Belfast last June as part of a £30 million investment.

That building, located between Central Station and the River Lagan, was completed in just two years. It spans six floors and includes large sociable working spaces, break-out areas, outdoor terrace and high-tech software development labs.

The project also involved extensive refurbishment of the tow path, adjacent boat marina and a restaurant unit at ground level.

At the time, Allstate NI’s managing director John Healy described the office as “a truly ground-breaking facility – an inspirational working space fit for a world-class technology organisation with a commitment to innovation, imagination and building digital technology of the future.”

The company first dipped its toe into the Northern Ireland market in 1999 as Northbrook Technology before rebranding to Allstate in 2008.

Throughout its history the company has consistently reinvested to become one of the biggest employers of tech talent in the north.

Total financial assistance offered by Invest NI to Allstate over the past 20 years is £27.2 million.

At the opening of its Belfast headquarters last year, Secretary of State Karen Bradley said: “Allstate has been instrumental in showing that, with ambition and vision, a company can grow its workforce tenfold.

“Not only have they created one of Northern Ireland’s first major IT inward investors, but they have tapped into the wealth of talent that the local workforce provides to overseas investors, providing high-quality jobs across Belfast and the north west.

“By continually investing in their staff, and their research and development into IT excellence, the Northern Ireland team are at the forefront of digital innovation. I thank them for the pivotal role they play in developing a Northern Ireland economy fit for the future.”

Ireland North West drinks companies In Good Spirits for Philadelphia showcase:

Two North West companies are travelling to Philadelphia this week to take part in a prestigious Irish American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) Craft Drinks event.  

Locally based Baronscourt Brewing Company, and  The Muff Liquor Company from Donegal, will showcase their produce, connect with drinks distributors and business leaders with a view to expanding their networks into the Greater Philadelphia region.

The companies will travel along with representatives from Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal Local Enterprise Office, to participate in the prestigious “In Good Spirits” event, following an invitation from the Chamber of Commerce in Philadelphia

The event is part of the strategic Ireland Northwest initiative between Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council and their partners to develop in-market support for local companies to help them build relationships to support the development of export opportunities.

The Councils have been working closely with the IACC and Pennsylvania Dept. of Community & Economic Development to promote the North West region and are delighted that Baronscourt and Muff Liquor can avail of the unique opportunity to further develop their exports into the US market.

The two local companies will be joined by Teeling Whiskey, Drioglann Local Measc Distillery, as well as distillers from Philadelphia.

The “In Good Spirits” event will feature a panel discussion and question and answer session moderated by Terese Waldron, Director of Graduate Food Marketing Program at Saint Joseph’s University. There will be drinks experts from  Pennsylvania and Irish industry taking part including, Eve-Anne McCarron, Donegal Local Enterprise Office, responsible for The Food Coast Initiative); John Teeling of Teeling Whiskey; Andrew Auwerda, President & Co-Founder of Philadelphia Distilling and John Cooper, Co-Founder of Mountain Laurel Spirits (Dad’s Hat Rye).

The panel discussion will be followed by a tasting session featuring Teeling WhiskeyBaronscourt Brewing Co.The Muff Liquor CompanyLough Mask DistilleryPowers Irish WhiskeyDad’s Hat Rye Whiskey, and Manatawny Still Works. The participants will get an opportunity to pitch their products and meet with industry experts who will assist the companies seeking market entry and develop local partnerships.

Welcoming Derry City and Strabane District Council’s participation in the event, Director of Business Stephen Gillespie said the visit is part of the Ireland Northwest’s strategic objectives, aimed at assisting local companies to internationalise their business, increase their business connections and exports.

A key element of this visit is that it aligns with the objectives set out in the recently launched Council food and drink strategy.  

“This is a great opportunity for Baronscourt Brewing Co. and Muff Liquor Company to showcase their products and further develop their links with drink distributors in the US. It’s a huge privilege for us to be invited to take part in this prestigious event and to be given a platform to promote the North West region as a food and drink destination. The event will be attended by a range of influencers in the drinks sector and our participation at this showcase is testament to the ongoing relationship we have developed with Philadelphia during our trade investment visits,” he said.

Michael Tunney, Head of Enterprise with the Donegal Local Enterprise Office noted how this visit supports the wider efforts which they have been focused on through the Food Coast initiative and enterprise development goals. 

He said: “The Local Enterprise Office in Donegal has been leading out on The Food Coast iniaitiative project for over eight years now and before that we had the 315 Foods regional project covering counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Cavan. Our ultimate objective is to grow the number and the sustainability of artisan and added –value food manufacturers in Donegal.  To achieve this we have had to work with food businesses from across the sectors, from primary producers to manufacturers, food service firms to chefs and restaurants, as well as all the regional stakeholders”

“Over this period we have also worked with Derry City & Strabane District Council on a European food project. This event in Philadelphia is yet another opportunity for food and drinks firms from the northwest to raise the profile and awareness of what is happing with food in the region and we look forward to further opportunities being developed for our local firms through this engagement. “

Alanna M. Barry McCloskey, Business Manager and Marketing Coordinator with the Irish American Business Chamber and Network said: “On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Irish American Business Chamber & Network, we are thrilled to welcome a delegation of Irish craft distillers and brewers and representatives from Derry City and Strabane and Donegal County Councils. Our visiting companies will meet with various Chamber members, local business leaders, and government representatives with the goal of expanding their networks and expanding into the Greater Philadelphia region.

“We are very much looking forward to introducing our visiting companies to the Irish Chamber membership at a special event, In Good Spirits: The Rise of Craft Distilling and Brewing in Pennsylvania and Ireland. This panel discussion and tasting session will feature both Irish and Pennsylvania companies and highlight the parallel track of the craft industries in Pennsylvania and Ireland.

“Throughout the Chamber’s 20 year history, we have welcomed delegations of Irish companies and government representatives to the Philadelphia Region. We actively work to promote the Island of Ireland in the Philadelphia region and conversely, highlight Philadelphia as a destination for Irish businesses, trade and investment.”

The delegation will depart to Philadelphia on Wednesday 15th May.

Further trade missions are scheduled to take place to both Boston and Philadlephia in November when both Councils will be supporting a range of local companies to assess their readiness to export and gear up to target and explore new business opportunities in export markets.

Significant City Deal and Economic Growth Funding Package confirmed for Derry and Strabane.

The announcement today of a £105M economic package by the UK Government in the Derry City and Strabane City Region has been widely welcomed by City and District partners with the Mayor saying it will be “a significant catalyst for change and economic growth” for the Derry City and Strabane District and the wider North West and expressed his delight that it has been secured during his Mayoral year as a key priority.

The investment package announced comprises a £50M ‘City Deal’ and a £55M ‘Inclusive Future Fund’ and is the culmination of a long period of engagement with Government in relation to advancing priority projects and initiatives within the City and District’s Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan and City Deal proposals.

Reflecting the model recently announced by Government for the Belfast Region City Deal, it is anticipated that the UK Government investment package announced today of £105M for Derry~Londonderry and Strabane will be at least matched by a similar commitment from the NI Executive and will lever further investment from project partners and other third party sources which it is hoped will eventually lead to an overall investment injection of in excess of £300M.

The announcement follows a visit to the City last July when the Chancellor, Philip Hammond met with civic and political leaders to hear of the plans and invited a bid for a City Deal to be formally submitted.

The bid, supported and endorsed by all local and regional political parties and representatives and devised around the key strategic economic projects outlined in the City and District’s Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan 2017-2032.

Led by Derry City and Strabane District Council, the bid was developed in partnership, and with the support of a wide range of local education, business and economic partners – including the Ulster University, the North West Regional College, both the Londonderry and Strabane Chambers of Commerce, the Western Health and Social Care Trust, Visit Derry, City Centre Initiative and the Foyle Port, in consultation with all associated NI Government Departments.

At the core of the bid is education, innovation, job creation and skills development with a key focus being the advancement of the much sought after expansion and growth of the Magee campus of Ulster University.

The investment package announced today, will enable planning and business case development to now proceed on proposals for a significant landmark riverfront university medical education and innovation hub, comprising a graduate entry medical college and centres of innovation, research and teaching excellence in data-driven personalised medicine, cognitive analytics and robotics and automation, eventually delivering over 200 new posts/research assistants at the City’s university and upwards of 2,000 additional students.

The stimulus package will additionally advance the delivery of a range of smart city and digital infrastructure projects and initiatives, further positioning the City and District as a highly digitally enabled location for cutting-edge business development and expansion and inward investment.

The catalytic impact of this could therefore result in the single biggest ever combined and integrated funding injection the City and District, that will enable progress and delivery of other key infrastructure, tourism and regeneration projects contained within the Plan and Bid in both Derry City Centre and Riverfront and in Strabane Town Centre.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle said: “This hugely significant announcement today for the Derry and Strabane District will go some considerable way in addressing the long-standing obstacles to economic development that this City Region and its people face. It is good news and is the result of an enormous amount of work and sustained effort invested by Council and the City and Regional partners to develop, deliver and negotiate on the bid.”

Council Chief Executive John Kelpie acknowledged the collaborative approach and the unified vision and commitment demonstrated by politicians, and partner organisations in development of the bid and the advice and support received regionally and nationally in securing such a positive outcome.

Enthusiastic about the opportunity presented by today’s announcement he commented: “This City and District has seen much progress in recent years economically, physically and socially. It has however significant remaining challenges in overcoming an infrastructure deficit and a legacy of underinvestment both of which have been such inhibitors to sustainable economic growth.

“This funding package, if directed at the key agreed strategic growth projects and if used to lever significant further public and private sector investment, will deliver a new era of unprecedented growth and development for the City and Region providing tangible benefits for all of our citizens and a promising future for our children and young people.”

Other City Deal Project partners reacted equally positively with the Vice Chancellor of Ulster University, Professor Paddy Nixon said, “This investment will now see the rapid development of plans to grow and enhance facilities and student numbers at the Magee Campus including the Graduate Entry Medical School.”

Brian McGrath, President of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce said: “This funding is hugely welcome and provides a solid platform upon which to grow and enhance the competitiveness of the City and Region and attract further significant exciting new companies, business prospects and investment.”

Council Chief Executive, John Kelpie concluded:  “The next steps will now be for everyone to continue to work together to develop the necessary detailed business plans and advance the projects through planning and design. We will do this by using this unprecedented opportunity to promote the future of this City and District as a location of choice for all in terms of business, lifestyle and ambition.”