The Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Patricia Logue, welcomed a delegation of PhD students from a special London College community to the Guildhall on Friday for a special reception.

It’s the first time that students from Goodenough College have visited the city as part of a wider cultural enrichment programme. Goodenough College is an educational charity providing award winning postgraduate student accommodation in the heart of London’s university district.

The College aims to provide a supportive community for over 700 international postgraduate and their families from over 80 different nations. It benefits students through a programme of intellectual, cultural and social activities that gives students access to an international network and nurtures a global outlook. 

12 students arrived in the city as part of a trip aimed promoting their understanding of N. Ireland, and in particular Derry, including its history and culture. While they are here the group are staying at St Columb’s Park House and visiting a number of local sites.

Welcoming the group to the City, Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Patricia Logue, said: “I am always delighted to welcome young people to Derry and to share some of our wonderful heritage and culture. We have a strong connection with the City of London in terms of promoting skills and education, and this was another opportunity to discuss our shared interests and the many benefits of living, learning and working here.

“The students really enjoyed their visit to the Guildhall, where they had the chance to ask questions about local politics, peace-building and how Derry has been positively transformed over the years. They were also impressed to learn more about the city’s development as a leading hub for research and innovation excellence particularly in the areas of AI, data, health, and industry 4.0 technologies.”

Travelling with the students are the Dean of the Goodenough College, Alan McCormack originally from N. Ireland, who is also chaplain to the Lord Mayor City of London and Catherine McGuinness (fellow of Goodenough College and former Policy Chair, City of London).

Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Patricia Logue, pictured with a delegation from Goodenough College, London, held in the Mayor's Parlour. Seated on her left is Alan McCormack (Dean, Goodenough College) and on right Catherine McGuinness CBE (Chair of the policy & resources committee, City of London Corporation). Standing on the right is Adam Goodall, Investment Project Officer, DCSDC. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Patricia Logue, pictured with a delegation from Goodenough College, London, held in the Mayor’s Parlour. Seated on her left is Alan McCormack (Dean, Goodenough College) and on right Catherine McGuinness CBE (Chair of the policy & resources committee, City of London Corporation). Standing on the right is Adam Goodall, Investment Project Officer, DCSDC. (Photo – Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Local technology consortium Smart Nano NI, formed to further the development of smart manufacturing in Northern Ireland, has today launched the largest 5G testbed in Northern Ireland in Derry-Londonderry, marking a significant step in a five-year plan to accelerate smart manufacturing in the country. 

Led by consortium partner Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology, the 5G testbed is the organisation’s latest innovation activity to bolster economic growth and investment opportunity in Northern Ireland. The investment by the Smart Nano NI consortium will create a valuable, open access facility and provide expert technical support to local start-ups and businesses through the Digital Catapult Smart Nano Accelerator Programme.

The ground-breaking testbed facilities will be delivered by the global IT and business consulting services firm CGI, in partnership with Digital Catapult Northern Ireland. The cutting-edge 5G and 4G private network is a first-of-its-kind smart manufacturing and education setting in Northern Ireland, providing access to the latest network technologies including 5G and NarrowBand-Internet of Things (NB-IoT), and will be instrumental in upskilling the next generation of innovators and experts across the country. 

William Revels, Managing Director at Digital Catapult Northern Ireland, said, “This is an exciting milestone for the project as we bring access to the latest 5G technology to both industry and academia and enable businesses to take advantage of the substantial market opportunities offered by 5G. Derry-Londonderry will be the ninth 5G testbed in Digital Catapult’s nationwide network and we’ve seen the opportunities that can be opened up from providing the equipment and in turn de-risking innovation.” 

RELATED: Smart Nano NI launches Smart Manufacturing accelerator programme to empower Northern Ireland manufacturers

The development of these facilities follows CGI’s opening of a new delivery centre in Northern Ireland as part of its commitment to developing skills and talent in the region. Volkan Pakoglu, Director Consulting Services at CGI, added, “The integration of this new 5G platform will demonstrate the value of creating mobile private networks within business by taking full advantage of the power, performance, and connectivity of 5G. We are committed to working together with Smart Nano NI and its partners to support and facilitate innovation, sustainable solutions and use technology for good.” 

The smart education site at the Industry 4.0 Centre in the Northwest Regional College’s Springtown Campus, will give both students and industry access to test and explore new use cases of the 5G private network, while the manufacturing site, hosted at Seagate’s manufacturing facility, will give businesses the opportunity to test the technology in a live manufacturing setting.

Dr Fergal Tuffy, Business Support Centre Manager at North West Regional College, said, “We are delighted to have the 5G testbed installed at our Springtown Campus, adding to our automation and robotics equipment at the Industry 4.0 Centre. This exciting collaboration will allow us to support students and businesses to gain skills and knowledge to take advantage of the opportunities that these cutting-edge technologies present.”

As part of today’s announcement, Digital Catapult have also launched an open call for the latest Smart Nano Accelerator Programme, giving businesses access to the 5G testbed for the first time. The Manufacturing Innovation Challenge is inviting innovative Northern Ireland start-ups and SMEs to join the programme and submit ideas for new technology solutions to solve manufacturing challenges.

Following the completion of the programme, the participating Northern Ireland-based companies will have the opportunity to compete for a £75,000 grant from Techstart Ventures to continue to develop their business idea. Funded through Techstart’s Proof of Concept Grant Fund, this pre-commercial grant awarding fund supports entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland with grants to explore the viability and commercial potential of an innovative concept. 

Kathleen Garrett from Techstart Ventures said, “We are delighted to have partnered with Digital Catapult, Seagate and the Smart Nano NI consortium on this Manufacturing Innovation Challenge. We look forward to seeing the innovations develop through the accelerator programme and have no doubt that some exciting businesses will be formed during this process with the support & guidance of the accelerator and the £75k grant funding from ourselves.”

Jason Wiggins, Programme Manager for Smart Nano NI, added: “The combined investment in infrastructure, the Smart Nano Accelerator programme and the Techstart competition creates a supportive environment for companies to develop and test new technologies. This collaboration will deliver new business resources to Northern Ireland and will drive growth and innovation across many sectors”.

Over 100 students and employers took part, pitched for placements and event featured a live podcast hosted by Caroline O’Neill, founder of DiggforSuccess with FinTrU’s Executive Director, Greg McCann.

Ulster University Business School celebrates the next generation of North West leaders who successfully completed the 2023 Talent Hub, concluding the programme in style with a Grand Finale event at the Great Hall at Derry~Londonderry campus this week.

‘Talent Hub’ is an innovative initiative, co-designed with key industry partner FinTrU and in collaboration with The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, aimed to connect talented students with local employers to help them foster professional networks, whilst committing future talent to the North West region.

Nearly 100 Global Business and Enterprise students participated in a series of four co-designed workshops, collaboratively created between Ulster University Business School and North West businesses. These workshops equipped students with essential skills, knowledge, and networking opportunities, enhancing their potential employability and ensuring skill alignment with employer needs in the working world.

As part of the event, the ‘Pitch for Placement’ segment saw the business students showcasing their talents to a captivated audience of over 20 local employers and business leaders such as FinTrU, Alchemy, Fujitsu, Kainos, Deloitte and Bio Ledger, from the North West region and beyond, all contending for the opportunity to secure a 12-month work placement within these organisations.

Throughout the Talent Hub series, students honed their personal and organisational awareness. The workshops emphasised active learning and applied skills, encouraging authentic engagement with business leaders to meet the agile demands of today’s working world. Students also had the chance to visit FinTrU’s newly renovated Patrick Street office, gaining first-hand experience of corporate culture, and developed communication skills during an interactive round table networking event.

At the event, Caroline O’Neill, founder of DiggforSuccess, hosted a live podcast with FinTrU’s Executive Director, Greg McCann, discussing company culture, collaboration in the North West, and ways businesses can elevate the profile of the next generation of leaders.

Caroline spoke of her collaboration with The Talent Hub:

“It is so exciting to work with the Talent Hub and see first hand how a difference is being made in the lives of students by training them with the skills needed to nurture their talents and improve their confidence and self belief. I truly believe the impact that the Talent Hub has will have a ripple effect for years to come as students embark on life outside of university in the world of work.”

Dr Aisling Reid, Lecturer in Business Enterprise at Ulster University and founder of The Talent Hub, said:

“I am so proud of what the Talent Hub has become through co-design and support from local employers. It plays a core role in the North West talent pipeline, connecting future talent with established leaders. By building strong partnerships with North West businesses, we are aligning to business needs to develop agile students with professional confidence. The Talent Hub has become a community with a sense of belonging. Together we are celebrating and harvesting talent in the North West region. We have exciting plans to develop the concept further.“

Ulster University student Aoife McCloskey shared her thoughts following completing Talent Hub:

“I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. It has given me a hands-on approach, encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone whilst remaining in a safe environment. It opened my horizons to various businesses I wouldn’t have previously been familiar with and at the same time allowed me and other students the opportunity to make some incredible networking connections that will help us when gaining placements- an invaluable experience and opportunity.”

Greg McCann, FinTrU Executive Director said:

“FinTrU are delighted with the work of the Talent Hub and the partnership with UU. The nurturing of graduate talent is essential for FinTrU’s growth plans and it is fantastic to be involved with this innovative initiative in the North West. It is a great example of what University/Business partnerships can deliver to help grow the NW economy.”

Senior Talent Partners at FinTrU, Keith Toland and Erin King added:

“The Talent Hub has provided FinTrU a platform to foster an interest for Financial Services in the North West region whilst positively influencing and supporting the employability of local graduate talent at Ulster University. We commend the students on their ambition, enthusiasm, and participation throughout the workshops and have welcomed their applications for our 2024 Placement Programme. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Ulster University and the Talent Hub.”

Anna Doherty, CEO of The Derry/L~Derry Chamber of Commerce said:

“The Derry Chamber is delighted to work so closely with Aisling and her team on the development of Talent Hub, especially at a time when growing skills and a sustainable talent pipeline has never been more important for business. The Talent Hub is a key initiative from UBS which brings businesses and students together to learn from each other. We look forward to continuing this collaboration to support a thriving Northwest economy.”

Local businesses are encouraged to get in touch with Dr Aisling Reid, Ulster University  to get involved in the next ‘Talent Hub’ taking place in 2024 as we grow our reach and impact in the North West region.

Email to find out more.

North West Regional College (NWRC) has officially cut the ribbon on a brand new Open University (OU) office at their Strand Road campus in Derry~Londonderry.

The office, adjacent to NWRC’s Careers Academy, is the OU’s first official premises in the North West and strengthens a partnership between the two organisations which saw the validation of two OU higher education level courses in September 2023.

During the official opening on Thursday, Dr Catherine O’ Mullan, NWRC Director of Curriculum and Academic Standards, handed over keys for the new office to John D’Arcy, Director of The Open University in Ireland.

Dr O’ Mullan said: “Today is another exciting chapter in this unique educational partnership. We are delighted to welcome The Open University to our Strand Road Campus with its own office and base in the North West.

“NWRC is committed to growing and developing our curriculum, offering something really different and much needed within the North West region.

“Our partnership with The Open University is the culmination of extensive diligence and hard work from both organisations, as well as significant consultation with employers, over the past two years. It complements the existing partnerships we have with other Higher Education Institutions in the region and has allowed us to add to our portfolio of courses, providing a more diverse offer related to areas of skills gaps .

“But this is just the beginning. We intend to grow our Higher Education curriculum offer at NWRC and hope to announce details of further developments in specialist subject areas with The Open University in the future.”

John D’Arcy, OU, added: ”The Open University is proud to officially move into our new office at NWRC allowing us to work even closer with staff and students. We have worked hard with NWRC Senior Management to provide this level of choice and provision of higher education and I am delighted to see the students on our Foundation Degree in Cyber Security and Level 4 Certificate in Healthcare Practice courses performing so well since they first began in September 2023. This partnership will continue to grow, and we look forward to seeing what 2024 will bring to the North West region and further afield.”

Applications are now open for all Higher Education courses beginning at NWRC in September 2024, including the OU Foundation Degree in Cyber Security (full and part-time), OU Level 4 Higher Education Certificate in Healthcare Practice, and OU Foundation Degree in Housing Practice. Further details of additional courses presently being approved by OU will be made available in due course.

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To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary year of the Belfast Good Friday agreement, Ulster University welcomes an exhibition for the first time to Northern Ireland, to celebrate one of the occasion’s principal architects, John Hume. In partnership with the European Parliament Liaison Office in the UK and The John and Pat Hume Foundation, the exhibit which launched yesterday evening in Derry~Londonderry, will embark on a year-long tour across the university campuses including Coleraine and Belfast.

The display also honours twenty-five years since Hume was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with David Trimble for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland. The exhibition, “He made hope and history rhyme” takes inspiration from the words of fellow Nobel prize winner and friend, Seamus Heaney.

Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Provost Ulster University expresses:

As our year long programme of events reflecting on the Belfast Good Friday agreement draws to a close, its only right that we return again to the architects of change that were instrumental in bringing about the peaceful times that we live in– with all the opportunities and potential they created. We are delighted to partner with the European Parliament Liaison Office UK and The John and Pat Hume Foundation to host this prestigious exhibition at Ulster University. As a son of the city, it is fitting that the exhibition launches its 2024 tour of all our campuses across the region in his home of Derry~Londonderry”  

“An MEP for quarter of a century and European of the Year, Hume worked tirelessly to broker peace and reconciliation in his native land. The everyday injustices of life in the north and especially in his divided hometown led Hume to join the civil rights movement in the 1960s and to forge a philosophy encapsulated in this quote: “Difference is of the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.”

Susanne Oberhauser, Director of the European Parliament Liaison Office in the UK comments;

“John Hume never tired of reminding us how the peace process in Northern Ireland has been so heavily inspired by the example of the European Parliament and the European project. As he liked to recall: “The union of Europe was the inspiration for our [Good Friday] agreement. The first time I went to Strasbourg in 1979 as a Member of the European Parliament, and I went to neighbouring Germany, I thought that if, in 1945, someone had said that these two countries would be reunited in Europe and that Strasbourg would be the symbol city of this hope, they would have been sent to the psychiatrist. The European Union is the best example of conflict resolution in the history of the world. All the regions at war must study the way in which Europe was built.” Thus, this project is particularly dear to our hearts and we are honoured to contribute to the remembrance of his legacy.”

Tim Attwood, Foundation Secretary, John and Pat Hume Foundation states:

“The John and Pat Hume Foundation welcome this excellent opportunity to partner with the European Parliament Liaison Office UK and Ulster University to showcase John Hume’s work as a Member of the European Parliament and the fact that the mission of the European Union inspired his courageous journey to build peace and reconciliation in Ireland through dialogue, partnership and bridge-building.  

“Two days short of John Hume’s eighty seventh birthday and fifty years after Ireland officially became a member of the European Economic Community (EEC), it is our duty to keep faith with the Hume principles, keep his dream of peace and non-violence alive and inspire current and emerging courageous leaders for peaceful change, at home and in conflicts internationally, who will chart a better way forward and build a more just and prosperous future for all  our children.”

The exhibition features panels with highlights of Hume’s role in the peace process alongside a bronze bust, one of only five specially commissioned pieces created by Ballymena born sculptor, Liz O’Kane. The remaining busts are installed at the Irish embassies in Washington DC, London, the European Parliament in Strasbourg and Leinster House in Dublin. After the tour of Ulster University’s campuses this piece will take up residence in the Guildhall in December 2024. Alongside the exhibition is a creation by Dublin tapestry artist, Catherine O’Connor whose grandparents hail from Derry~Londonderry. The tapestry, commissioned by friends of John and Pat Hume shines a light on Pat and the strength of her relationship with John and her integral role in the peace process.

The exhibition is free and open to the public from Wednesday 17 January – Friday 29 March and is located on the ground floor lobby of the MU building, Derry~Londonderry campus.

International students from Northwest China and Zhejiang province visited the city in August to conduct cultural exchanges and community engagement. During their time in the city the students conducted English lessons and visited the Mayor.

Over the past 2 years Northwest Regional College have been collaborating with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) on a digital skills project funded by Erasmus+. A number of NWRC staff were in Turkey in May 2023 and visited TAI.

TAI have continued this collaboration and are currently working with NWRC on a Horizon Europe submission. A formal staff/student exchange training programme is also in development.

During the visit the TAI delegation exchanged

  • Experiences of project-based learning to further develop delivery of project-based learning
  • Experiences of the high-end 3D printing TAI uses in production, to assist NWRC’s Product Design Centre’s development of it’s 3D printing capability
  • TAI’s development of Virtual Reality for staff training, to assist NWRC’s development of VR and the NWRC XR (Extended reality) Centre.

Walled City Music welcomed over 30 pianists to Derry in July, for the 2023 edition of its International Piano Festival. Festival Director Derry-born Cathal Breslin, acclaimed concert pianist and professor at Arizona State University, were joined by an international faculty of tutors at Ulster University, Magee, as they lead 25 piano students through a packed schedule of masterclasses, workshops and concerts from July 10-17, 2023.

The Festival’s student body represents the world’s up and coming generation of young pianists, bringing talent together from nationalities including Ireland, UK, Europe, USA, Taiwan, China, Iran, the Philippines, New Zealand and Korea. Over the 8 days of the Festival, these young artists were provided with an immersive and inspiring environment in the Magee campus of Ulster University.

The international faculty, that delivered the Festival’s series of masterclasses, workshops and interviews, included Professors Thérèse Fahy (Royal Irish Academy of Music), Chu-Fang Huang (Ameri-China International Music Association), Chih-Long Hu (University of Tennessee), Svetozar Ivanov (University of South Florida), Pei-Chun Liao (University of Taipei) and Cahill Smith (Utah State University).

Throughout the week, exciting variety concerts by the faculty and students were open to the public, with multiple pianists performing solo piano works and works for 4, 6 and 8 hands, as well as two days of performances at the Festival’s International Competition.

Professor Cathal Breslin said,

“I am delighted to bring such an exciting international piano festival and competition to Derry for the 4th year. It is an amazing opportunity to welcome these talented young stars of the future to our city, from so many different countries, and to work and refine their musical skills with some of the greatest pianists in the world. The concerts are going to be a big highlight for me, as it is very rare to see multiple pianists on stage together performing. Come along and see the excitement for yourself!”

In addition to its core support from Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Derry and Strabane District Council, the 2023 Festival was sponsored by Yamaha and local taxi company City Cabs. The Festival took place in partnership with Ulster University, Contemporary Music Centre Ireland and Christ Church.

Entrepreneurs and researchers from across Europe have visited Derry as part of the MIT Innovators Under 35 Europe Festival.

For the second year running, the event was held in the Donegal Gaeltacht and brought together 35 young tech innovators from 16 different countries, with fields ranging from biotechnology and medicine, to AI and robotics.

Their trip included a visit to Ulster University’s Magee campus in Derry.

Attendees also took part in a conference at the gteic hub in Gweedore, where they demonstrated how their use of cutting-edge technology can help improve society, and met with local Donegal schoolchildren to discuss entrepreneurial solutions to the energy crisis.

Among those taking part in the conference were Georgios Nounesis, Director of the Greek Centre for Scientific Research in Athens, and Nicklas Bergman, an advisor to the European Commission’s €10bn Innovation Fund. 

The MIT EMTECH IU35 conference provides a unique opportunity to present the city region as an innovation location to potential investors and entrepreneurs, to get access to a specific audience and raise awareness of the cross border city region. The major themes for the conference are in complete alignment with the priority sectors for the NW City Region’s priority sectors and investable opportunities; AI; Healthcare and Life Sciences and Greentech. The hosting of the conference is a major coup for the NW City Region.

Five of the 35 people on this year’s MIT Innovators Under 35 list are based in Ireland. The Irish-based people named on the list this year are Brendan Staunton, CEO and co-founder of Amara Therapeutics; Bárbara Oliveira, CTO and co-founder of Luminate Medical; Dominic Holmes, CEO and co-founder of eXRt Intelligent Healthcare; Dr Fiona Freeman, University College Dublin; and Elle Sander, CEO and co-founder of Lifelet Medical .

Among the event’s sponsors were the Northwest City Region councils of Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council, and Ulster University.

The North West Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Collaborative Growth Network has recently rebranded as GEMX – Generating Engineering & Manufacturing Excellence.

The network, supported by Invest Northern Ireland through its Collaborative Growth Programme, aims to raise awareness of manufacturing and engineering within the North West, develop a pipeline of talent, and encourage collaboration between industry and education.

Leading companies – including NuPrint Technologies, AE Global, PPSL and Fleming Agri – will work together to exploit opportunities and enhance their competitive edge.

Project director Joanne Sweeney said: “We need to harness the abilities of educational establishments and ensure that they are being fully utilised by local industry.

“Through the elimination of stereotypes, we can develop an engineering pathway to inspire children and young adults and encourage them to pursue careers in an exciting, dynamic environment which is future-proof.”

Invest NI’s Collaborative Growth Programme is aimed at SME-led networks, and provides support for groups to pursue innovative collaborative projects and boost business competitiveness.