Female entrepreneurs have just one week left to apply for a spot on a new accelerator-lite programme from AwakenHub which aims to provide support for women who are interested in starting their own business. 

SheGenerate is open to women from across the island of Ireland who have recently started a new business venture or who have an idea but are struggling to access the tools, information and support needed to get the business off the ground. 

35 spaces will be available (15 of which are being targeted at women in Northern Ireland) and the programme will be made up of a series of workshops, tailored to meet the needs of those enrolled, along with access to community events and advice and signposting from the programme founders and a hand picked group of Big Sisters who are company builders, innovators, investors and serial entrepreneurs. 

SheGenerate is the latest in a long line of innovations delivered by AwakenHub which have all been aimed at driving and securing economic investment and opportunities in the North West. It’s founders include Angel Investor, Mary McKenna; Business Growth Enabler, Clare McGee; Leadership Consultant Sinead Crowley; and Entrepreneur, Mary Carty. The foursome bring a wealth of knowledge and real life experience of growing and starting a business to SheGenerate and can offer successful applicants hugely sought after mentorship opportunities. 

Co-Founders Mary McKenna and Clare McGee  urged anyone interested in learning more about the event to come along to an Expression of Interest event on Tuesday September 28. 

“We know that many women have been inspired or impacted by Covid-19 to start or grow a new business venture but noticed that many struggled to find the right level of support to help them take ideas to the next level. 

“SheGenerate is open to women from across the island of Ireland working in any background or sector who are prepared to take the plunge, do the work and get trading within the next 12 months. 

“Thanks to our programme funders, Ulster Bank and Rethink Ireland, we can offer a place to 35 female entrepreneurs who will have access to mentorship, peer support and workshops to get their business up and running and create all of the positive economic and social change which comes along with this.”

John Ferris, Regional Ecosystem Manager with Ulster Bank, which has supported SheGenerate through its Enterprise Funding Grants, said it was important these programmes were available to existing and potential entrepreneurs. 

“At Ulster Bank we are committed to supporting female entrepreneurs and providing them with the tools and networks they need to start or scale a business. This partnership with SheGenerate has the potential to deliver transformative change for women; particularly those in the North West, and we are pleased to have been able to play a role in bringing female entrepreneurs even closer to potential investors through the Enterprise Partner Funding grant. 

“We look forward to seeing the outcomes of the project and wish each of the participants well as they make the most of this exciting opportunity and take the next step of their business journey.”

Applications will close at 5pm on Friday October 8 and those unable to attend the Expression of Interest event can register their details here . 

For more information about the programme and it’s founders, visit www.awakenhub.com  

LegenDerry Food has given its seal of approval to 17 more eateries and local producers this year, bringing the total number of members to 70.

The network was established to celebrate high-quality produce and the food heritage of the city and region, from street food trucks and award-winning fine dining, to craft brewers and artisan producers.

Last year saw the development and launch of the LegenDerry brand, complete with a new website providing a central hub for accessing unique food, drink and taste experiences in Derry, Strabane and the surrounding area.

As a certified LegenDerry provider, businesses are showcased on the LegenDerry website and receive a suite of marketing material to signpost their venues or produce with the ‘LegenDerry – Great Place, Great Taste’ stamp of approval.

LegenDerry Food was the result of a Food and Drink Strategy launched in February 2019 by Derry City and Strabane District Council, as part of its wider plan to drive tourism and place the region on the map as Ireland’s top food location by 2025.

Selina Horshi, new Chair of the LegenDerry Food and Drink Network, said: “We are always happy to welcome new businesses onboard this exciting and innovative project and we look forward with anticipation to continued development in the weeks and months ahead.”

To find out more, visit www.legenderryfood.com

Local social prescribing company Elemental Software has announced its acquisition by UK health informatics firm Servelec.

Founded in 2013 by two former community development workers, the Derry-based business provides technology to connect people with support and services in their community, address social issues, and improve wellbeing.

Following the sale to Servelec, a leading supplier of digital care software, Elemental will continue to operate from its Guildhall Street headquarters under its own brand and leadership team.

Leeann Monk-Ozgul, COO and co-founder of Elemental, said: “Bringing together our systems with Servelec’s will help us in our mission to achieve the best possible health outcomes for even more people. Interoperability in health and social care is extremely important to help ensure no one is left behind and to maximise the power of technology to support communities.”

Is your business looking for help or guidance with research and innovation? Perhaps your product, service or process requires expertise that is outside your current R&D capacity? Did you know that the Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway Network can help?

To compete in the challenging global business environment, indigenous companies face an ever-increasing demand for advancement and innovation.

Recent data also strongly indicates that companies who collaborate with third-level institutes on research, development, and innovation, have double the turnover of those that do not, and these companies are also likely to have significantly greater sales and export revenues.

Invest NI in collaboration with the Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway Network can assist you with funding and the specialist expertise you require. The Wireless Sensor and Applied Research Lab (WiSAR) Technology Gateway develop electronic products and software using expertise in the internet of things, while PEM (Precision Engineering and Manufacturing)Technology Gateway provide mechanical engineering and process improvements, with specialisation in product design and development in the engineering and manufacturing sectors.

Invest NI’s next £5,000 Innovation Voucher call opens on September 5th and to coincide with this, both WiSAR, based in LYIT and PEM, based in Sligo IT, are holding joint Innovation Voucher Clinics on the 15th, 16th, 22nd and 23rd of September. These clinics offer free one-on-one consultations, where businesses can discuss potential ideas for R&D projects under the scheme.

To book your free consultation at the Innovation Voucher Clinics visit:

https://bookwhen.com/wisarlab/

Individuals who are exploring the idea of creating their own business in Northern Ireland are to be offered access to a free online business bitesize support service following an agreement by all 11 of its local councils.  Rebel on Demand, an online support service for people who are exploring the idea of setting up their own business, is now available to everyone who is thinking of starting up. The service contains scores of videos and articles, offering free and impartial advice on topics such as starting up without debt, making sales and increasing confidence and motivation. The on-demand platform also allows users to tailor their learning journey and record progress.

Rebel on Demand can assist anyone considering a future in Entrepreneurship, by helping formulate an idea they are passionate about. Once that creative spark has been found and developed, and is considered a viable career path, it can be explored in more detail with the Council’s Go For It programme and local Enterprise Agency. It’s the latest product from the Rebel Business School which, earlier this year, won a prestigious Queen’s Award for Promoting Opportunity.  Rebel Business School co-founder and CEO, Simon Paine, says Rebel on Demand is designed for people with busy lives who want and expect everything to be a click away. “People are very busy and everyone expects services to be on demand 24/7. The difference is we don’t have a subscription fee and we never will. We know that Northern Ireland has had a hard 18 months due to the pandemic and there are a lot of big economic issues to work on. So we want to play a part, encouraging people to start up and contribute to the economic recovery.” 

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, said the new online platform would complement the package of support already offered by local Councils. “Launching any new business idea can be extremely daunting, and this has been a particularly challenging year for local companies. This new online resource is another tool for local Councils who have been working hard to tailor support to meet the wide ranging needs of businesses across the spectrum.

“A strong entrepreneurial spirit is essential to any thriving local economy, promoting diversity, nurturing creativity and generating opportunity. I welcome any support for the up and coming new talents who will help shape the future of business and cultivate a strong economy.” 

About the Rebel Business School. Rebel Business School was founded in 2010 by Alan Donegan and Simon Paine and helps people from all walks of life to start their own businesses. Its mission is to change the way entrepreneurship is taught across the world. It has educated over 11,000 people in seven different countries through free events and helped launch 805 businesses in 2020 alone.  In 2021, the company won a Queen’s Award in the Promoting Opportunity category and its work has been backed by organisations including Google, Henley Business School and the Department for Work and Pensions.  

The Rebel Business School is the best business advice that money can’t buy – all of its events are free. For more information on Rebel on Demand  https://www.derrystrabane.com/Business/Rebel-On-Demand For more information on Go For It https://www.goforitni.com/about-go-for-it/derry-city-and-strabane-district-council/

£42.4 m has been awarded to Smart Nano NI – a Northern Ireland nano technology consortium to develop new technology for medical devices, communication and data storage. 

 The funding, which has been awarded by the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Strength in Places Fund presents a game-changing opportunity for Northern Ireland’s nano technology and manufacturing sector and launches the necessary support to scale up capacity in device manufacturing, underpin and develop hundreds of jobs across the sector. The total project value, including leveraged funding from other sources is £63.9m.  

   Smart Nano NI is led by data company Seagate Technology in collaboration with Analytics Engines, Causeway Sensors, Cirdan Imaging, Digital Catapult NI, North West Regional College, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University and Yelo (the “Consortium”). The eight partners form a corridor of expertise from Derry~Londonderry to Belfast.  

  The funding award was made after a highly competitive process with projects from across the UK. It will further consolidate Northern Ireland’s position as a global leader for excellence in the field of nano technologies as well as delivering a significant and lasting impact on our local economy.  

  This is a once in a generation opportunity for Northern Ireland. The Consortium will accelerate the work of developing transformative advanced prototyping and smart manufacturing methods. This will allow for the delivery of new technologies as researchers and industry partners work together to develop new sensors for healthcare and optical communications leveraging the vast wealth of Northern Ireland’s research and industry knowledge. The Consortium will build capacity and new prototypes in the spheres of medical devices, communication, and data storage.   

  Northern Ireland has a unique cluster of expertise in this globally expanding field. The collaboration between all the members located along the Derry Londonderry / Belfast corridor will enable the establishment of a Centre of Excellence. This will enable advances in the Life and Health Sciences as well as exploiting the potential of photonics and nanotech in other high-growth sectors through knowledge transfer.  

  Smart Nano NI’s Dr Mark Gubbins said: “We are delighted and honoured to secure this investment which will deliver significant benefits for the economic growth of the region and the “corridor” of businesses from Belfast to Derry~Londonderry ensuring a levelling up of shared opportunities. We can now advance Northern Ireland’s niche capability around smart nano manufacturing and world-leading knowledge in photonics to create a self-sustaining local industry. It allows us to capitalise on the combined expertise of our companies and the availability of trained researchers and resources across our academic institutions”.   

  Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “I wish to congratulate and acknowledge the outstanding team behind this achievement. Securing this funding through UKRI Strength in Places is a major boost for our economy and our post Covid recovery journey and is a testament to the power of collaboration and the calibre of Northern Ireland companies. It will create new commercial opportunities, will drive economic growth and help tackle productivity challenges, and invigorate our manufacturing sector.” 

Further Information: media@smartnanoni.com or maria@mccannpr.com or mobile 07802934246 or 02890 666322 

Considering a move home? Local experts share their advice

Returning to the North West to live, work or invest is an enticing prospect – and perhaps more than ever in 2020.

With the recent rise in remote working, the North West’s excellent broadband offering, and award-winning, homegrown and global firms located here, that long held dream could become a reality.

But where should you start when planning your relocation? We asked some local experts their tips for finding a job, choosing a new home, and making the move.

Lynn Jennings, founder and headhunter at talentsocial

Most of the software companies I work with in Derry and Donegal are expanding at the minute. If anything, the move to home working has increased the demand for their software, be it in the ecommerce, online recruitment or data protection industry.

There are countless opportunities for Software Engineers particularly, in the North West, but roles also come up within other departments: Sales, Marketing, Finance, Operations, Product/Project Management and HR. LinkedIn is the best place to find opportunities. Make sure your profile is complete and connect with headhunters in the area, and set up alerts for Derry and Strabane on job boards.

Some of the bigger companies do their own recruitment, so a direct application is the best bet. I’ll usually advise candidates of this and discuss clients I’d recommend we make an application together to. Most of the smaller software companies prefer to partner with an external recruiter. I usually start out partnering with small indigenous SaaS (software as a service) clients who are then bought by bigger global players and the partnership continues. I’m seeing a move back to cross border working again recently, and people returning from London, Belfast and Dublin in particular. COVID has prioritised proximity to family and nature as well as space, which the North West has in abundance.

Anaeleigh McCormick, company director, Locate Estate Agents

Social media makes the world a smaller place and allows you to choose your new home from anywhere in the world. I find that through my social media platforms I have made connections with many clients living abroad, who can keep up to date with what is available in the area via my daily stories.

If you have a family, it’s important to choose an area close to local schools as sometimes only certain postcodes can be allocated spaces in the schools. It’s also wise to be close to the family network, especially grandparents and other reliable babysitters.

You do not need your home to be in the city centre – for those who are a bit more open-minded and prepared to travel a short distance from the city, you will get a lot more house for your money. Those coming home will be pleasantly surprised at what’s available on their budget within Derry and Strabane!

Finally, welcome home. There is nowhere in the world better than Derry & Strabane.

Bernard McGowan, director and operations manager, Foyle International Removals and Storage

Derry is going through a renaissance at the moment. You’re making the right choice to move here – it is a great place to work and live. The upsurge in people who are moving home is absolutely astronomical. We’ve moved hundreds of people since the pandemic hit.

When moving, be boxed, packed and ready, and label everything for what room it goes in. Use larger boxes for lighter items, and small boxes for heavier items. Layer the box – heavy at the bottom, medium at the middle and light at the top. Notify all your new utilities suppliers, doctors and schools before you move so everything is lined up for you when you arrive. Always allow yourself ample time for travel and potential travel delays. If people opt to fly over, we can recommend people to transport your vehicle for you.

We also recommend packing a ‘bitz box’ to access easily when you arrive – all your TV remotes, kettle, toaster, important documents. We see people crying tears of happiness when they see the moving lorry arrive. It’s the beginning of their journey home.

Derry City and Strabane District Council are working with Ignite NI and alongside other partners, Invest NI and Ulster University, to bring an exciting one-day virtual start-up bootcamp for founders/early stage companies specifically for this Council area.

The bootcamp is open to anyone who wants to build a successful start-up of scale.  It will be delivered through a one-day online course on Wednesday, 25th November by Ignite NI, who will bring their expertise along with the shared experiences of their NI Propel alumni companies and mentors.Through a series of workshops, Q&As and 1:1 chats, the start-up bootcamp will provide you with the building blocks of a successful start-up.By the end of the session, individuals and teams will be well on their way with a growth mindset. 

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Brian Tierney, welcomed the bootcamp.”This has been a particularly tough period for our local business community so, as a Council, we have been working with partners to grow and support the entrepreneur ecosystem within the district, and this bootcamp is an example of that.”We want to stimulate high growth potential within our business community and give entrepreneurs a platform from which to build, and through this bootcamp those individuals and groups will be equipped with the necessary supports and tools they need to grow.”The bootcamp will also help us build a network of start-ups within Derry and Strabane which is exactly what we want to see as we move forward.”If you want to build a successful start-up of scale, whether you are a student, an academic or employed, an individual or a team; if you have an idea or concept or it is in early stage development but don’t know how to take it forward, this is for you.

Kevin O’Connor, Council’s Head of Business, added: “To build a successful start-up, you need to have the right growth mindset from the start.”Through this start-up bootcamp we want to provide the building blocks, the knowledge and the encouragement entrepreneurs need to take the right first steps.”To apply to take part in the start-up bootcamp, please visit https://airtable.com/shrNrEMYuMSU9KkMR

The application process will close on Wednesday, 18th November 2020.

Five new entrepreneurs and start-ups have each received £10,000 from Innovate UK, the government’s innovation agency, as part of the first Catalyst North West Co-Founders programme.

The funding will help the winning teams pursue their technology, engineering and science ideas and contribute to the thriving innovation ecosystem growing in the North West region.

Although based at Catalyst Innovation Centre at Fort George in Derry, the Co-Founders cohort completed a part-time online programme one night a week for 16 weeks.

The five ideas which have secured funding include technology for medical student training, an innovative development for cat’s eyes on the road, a digital platform for golf caddies, a social fintech solution and a digital platform for exercise and wellbeing.

Catalyst at Fort George opened in 2014 and is fully occupied by 32 companies and 250 people working in the innovation and knowledge economy.

Find out more about The Co-Founders programme at www.co-founders.co.

A new medical training school in Londonderry has been given the go-ahead.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill confirmed the graduate medical school at Ulster University’s Magee campus will open in September 2021.

The only medical school in Northern Ireland at present is at Queen’s University in Belfast.

The deputy first minister said the school will be “instrumental in the regeneration of the region”.

“This is a hugely important investment decision for the north west, and it adds to the executive’s recent announcement on the Derry and Strabane city deal and inclusive future fund,” she said.

Ms O’Neill said the first 70 students would start their training in the north west in 2021.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said the announcement was “a very welcome piece of positive news”.

“The Covid-19 pandemic brought the chronic medical staffing gaps in our health service into sharp focus, as the enlisting of retired doctors and early graduation of final year medical students showed,” the BMA’s NI chair Dr Tom Black said.

He added: “This new school will mean more medical students graduating annually in Northern Ireland and then staying on, not only to treat our growing and aging population but to support our health service should such a pandemic like this ever happen again.”

Plans for a medical school in Derry were first mooted in the mid-2000s, and submitted to the General Medical Council in 2016.

In May 2019, the UK government announced £100m for the Derry and Strabane city deal.

The bulk of that, and match funding from Stormont announced earlier this month, has been earmarked for Ulster University’s expansion in the north west, including the medical school.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood welcomed the announcement from the deputy first minister but said further detail is needed.

“We need a guarantee from the executive and from Ulster University that the first students will enrol starting in September 2021 and we need to see a plan for university expansion beyond that.

“The medical school is the first step, not the end product,” the Foyle MP said.

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan said the school’s go ahead is “a major boost for Ulster University and for Derry” while DUP MLA Gary Middleton tweeted that “we must now work towards students being accepted from 2021”.