The North West Manufacturing & Engineering New Futures Network has been awarded £170,000 of support from Invest Northern Ireland’s Collaborative Growth Programme.

The network, led by Nuprint Technologies Ltd, is made up of engineering and manufacturing businesses in the Derry and Strabane area, who work with local further and higher education Institutes and Derry City and Strabane District Council to promote skills and employability in the industry.

It aims to establish the North West as a region of excellence for manufacturing and engineering, boasting the very best skills and innovation capability, as well as generating business opportunities for those involved and the wider NI economy.

The funding will allow the network to appoint an independent facilitator who will work with companies and stakeholders, and help the sector develop through access to a skilled pipeline of talent. They will also provide support for the sector to innovate and embrace research and development to future-proof businesses for global competitiveness.

The group previously carried out a Scoping Study, also supported through Invest NI’s Collaborative Growth Programme. This was to identify key future priorities, including how best to address shifting perceptions of manufacturing and engineering as a preferred career; options for up-skilling; and new pathways to career progression.

Welcoming the support from Invest NI, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Brian Tierney, said: “This is fantastic news for Derry and Strabane where we have a serious skills deficit that Council is working closely with our partners in education and industry to address. Partnership is key to taking an effective and sustainable long-term approach to building and developing the Manufacturing and Engineering sector.

“We have a wealth of talent here in the North West, we need to help businesses tap into that talent pool and also create the opportunities for young people to develop the skills and experience required to enhance both their prospects and the future success of the industry. I welcome the plans to appoint a Facilitator who can now begin to deliver on the objectives set out by the Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering Collaborative Network.”

Commenting on the funding secured, Paul Kirkpatrick, Chair of the Network, said: “The sector is a huge employer and vitally important as we move forward to rebuild the economy after the impact of Covid-19. This collaborative approach of the public-private sector working together will deliver employment opportunities across all skills levels and emerging opportunities through R&D and new product development.”

The Network is led by Nuprint Technologies Ltd and incorporates membership from Manufacturing and Engineering Companies in North West including Precision Processing Services, AE Global, Fleming Agri, Dupoint, Invista, Seagate, Terex, E&I, GES, Hunter Apparel, Derry Precision Tools, Fast Technologies, McColgans, O Neill’s, MIM Engineering, North West Medical Ltd & KES Group. As the Network develops, the intention is to add more members from the micro and SME sector.

Managing Director of Nuprint, Gavin Killeen, said: “I am delighted our application has come to fruition and I look forward to working with Paul, Invest NI and Derry City Strabane Council in driving forward our ambitions for the sector. In the wider context of the Derry City and Strabane transformational City Deal, one of the key projects includes the development of a Centre for Industrial Digitisation, Robotics and Automation which will support companies wanting to take advantage of the digital technologies which would help support the future growth and development of this sector. I am confident that by working together we can maximise the potential that exists on our doorstep.”

Invest NI’s Collaborative Growth Programme is aimed at SME-led networks, and provides support for groups to pursue innovative collaborative projects with the potential to increase business competitiveness. Des Gartland, North West Regional Manager at Invest NI, said: “We are delighted to support the Manufacturing & Engineering New Futures network through our Collaborative Growth Programme. The North West has a strong advanced manufacturing and engineering heritage and the sector plays a vital part in Northern Ireland’s economy.

“We are confident that collaboration is a key method of accelerating business growth. By working collectively, the network will have a strong focus on how best to attract, retain and engage a skilled workforce to enable businesses to grow and develop skills. It will assist in the digital transformation and contribute towards increasing the global competitiveness of the sector here in the North West and beyond.”

The network will also benefit from the input of a number of targeted stakeholder organisations. These include Manufacturing NI; SEC; Catalyst Inc.; Derry City & Strabane District Council; Invest NI; Sentinus; MATRIX, NWRC, UU & local schools.

Managing Director of Nuprint, Gavin Killeen, with Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council

Learning Pool has agreed to a new investment from Marlin Equity Partners which will support the e-learning company’s continued growth and create 100 new jobs.

Founded in Derry and currently ranked as one of the top 60 Large Best Companies to Work for in the UK, Learning Pool employs more than 260 people across the UK and US.

The Marlin investment will facilitate further job creation, with plans in place to hire an additional 100 Learning Pool employees across the group this year. 

As part of the investment, Marlin will acquire the shareholding of Carlyle Cardinal Ireland, who invested in Learning Pool in 2016. Since then, Learning Pool has seen revenue increase four-fold and made four acquisitions, most recently acquiring US-based Remote Learner. Marlin is expected to help accelerate growth both organically and through additional acquisitions.

Learning Pool Team with Marlin Equity Partners

Almac Group, the global contract development and manufacturing organisation, has today announced the launch of a recruitment campaign with a view to setting up a facility in Derry/Londonderry.

With over 5,600 employees located in 18 locations across the world, 3,600 of whom are based at its global Headquarter campus in Craigavon, Almac is planning to offer up to 100 new, highly skilled jobs specifically targeting the North West region of Northern Ireland over the next three years. The initial recruitment drive is underway and offers a mixture of project management and software engineering positions at all levels. Experience of the pharmaceutical industry is not an essential requirement for these roles as full on-the-job training is provided.

Alan Armstrong (CEO) Almac Group

Alan Armstrong, CEO, Almac Group, explains, “We are experiencing significant growth and have a need to support our many clients across the globe. With substantial advancement in technology, we are fortunate to be able to locate our employees anywhere we choose offering greater flexibility and access to our various range of services. Given the skills pipeline coming from Ulster University at Magee and Coleraine, combined with the excellent choice of workspace available in the Derry/Londonderry area, we have decided to explore this region as our next Almac location.

“We are proud to have our global Headquarters based in Northern Ireland and it is our plan to expand our reach and establish a base in the North West.  We are hopeful that, when word spreads about our expansion plans to this region, we will be able to obtain the required numbers and quality of job applicants who are keen to join us and support our mission to advance human health globally.

“Given the success experienced by many other companies in this area, we plan to employ up to 100 staff at this new location over the next three years.”

This announcement comes as the company continues to recruit globally, in particular for its Craigavon campus, as the company grows in response to increased client demand.

To find out more or to apply for a position, visit here.

Donegal based manufacturing firm, Houston Precision Engineering (HPE) has purchased over three acres of land in Strabane Business Park to build a new factory which will lead to the creation of 41 new engineering jobs in Northern Ireland.  

HPE provides high quality engineering services, focusing primarily on metal fabrication and precision machining services, to regional, national and international customers. 

Welcoming HPE to Northern Ireland, Kevin Holland, Invest Northern Ireland’s CEO said: “Northern Ireland has a long and proud history of manufacturing and engineering brilliance which forms the cornerstone of our economy. This investment by HPE will significantly contribute to this already vibrant and sophisticated advanced manufacturing and engineering sector. The increased capacity it creates will enable HPE to grow and thrive in international markets.

Invest NI has offered Houston Precision Engineering £410,000 of support towards 41 jobs. The company is proposing to build a new 30,000 sq. ft. factory in Strabane Business Park, owned by Invest NI.

Kevin added: “The announcement of a new investor is great news for the Derry City & Strabane District Council area and demonstrates HPE’s confidence in Northern Ireland, in the talent here and in local infrastructure. With plans to build a new manufacturing facility in Strabane Business Park, the 41 new jobs will contribute £1million in additional annual salaries to the local economy.”

Only one site is now remaining on Strabane Business Park. Further expressions of interest are currently being explored bringing Strabane Business Park close to capacity in the near future.”

Martin Houston,  Owner of Houston Precision Engineering said: “Invest NI has worked with us throughout the pandemic, helping us to secure the site at Strabane Business Park and offering support to help us kick start our team with over 40 new roles, most of which will be Production Operatives. Our investment will also include a zinc plating processing line, which will offer a significant opportunity to offer this process from the North West as many engineering businesses currently have to transport their products to Belfast or Dublin to avail of this service.

“We have developed a strong reputation across the UK and RoI operating in the aggregates and quarry sectors, data centres, oil industry and waste recycling sector. Our growth plans are ambitious and with a strong manufacturing facility already established in Letterkenny and ambitious plans for Strabane, our strategy is to treble our sales by 2025. To do this we will significantly increase our manufacturing outputs to meet the growing demand for our products at home, across the UK and beyond.

“We are delighted to be expanding and are very much looking forward to growing a strong and competitive business in the Strabane area.”

Ulster University Medical School. (Photo: Nigel McDowell/Ulster University)

Ulster University’s School of Health Sciences undergraduate programmes are set to relocate to Magee from September 2022, bringing more than 800 students to the Derry campus.

Professor Carol Curran, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences at Ulster University, said the Magee campus would best support the NHS’s emphasis on the development of multi-disciplinary teams, and provide rich opportunities for interprofessional learning.

She added: “Now, more than ever, in the context of a health service that continues to face sustained challenge in tackling COVID-19, we are acutely aware of the vital contribution of our allied health professionals.”

The programmes will be delivered alongside UU’s new Paramedic teaching provision and Graduate Entry School of Medicine, which are both recruiting students for the start of the 2021 academic year.

UU’s award-winning School of Nursing, ranked 7th in the UK, has operated in the city for 20 years. The Magee campus also runs one of only three Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) competency test centres in the UK, established to increase nursing capacity and help alleviate pressures in the health sector.

In the relocation plans, postgraduate Health Sciences teaching will move to UU’s Belfast campus. The School of Health Sciences will remain at Jordanstown for the 2021/22 academic year.

Private equity investor Tenzing will partner with local cybersecurity firm MetaCompliance to accelerate the organisation’s growth and drive product innovation.

Founded in 2005, MetaCompliance employs more than 100 people, servicing clients in the UK, Europe and internationally with a mission to help customers keep staff safe online, protect their digital assets and avoid reputational damage.

Robert O’Brien CEO Metacompliance

Its award-winning technology and training content is used by over 900 public and private organisations to increase staff vigilance of cybersecurity threats and help customers demonstrate compliance to national regulators.

The business said its decision to partner with Tenzing was fuelled by the fund’s strategic experience in growing similar-sized companies, and a shared belief in MetaCompliance’s ability to become a global cybersecurity force.

Tenzing’s investment will help MetaCompliance continue to develop innovative products and expand its workforce. The existing management team, including founder and CEO Robbie O’Brien, will carry on in their current leadership roles and are investing further as shareholders in the business.

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill have announced an investment of £1.7million in a new arts and cultural project in the Derry-Londonderry Urban Village area.

The Ministers revealed plans from the Executive’s Urban Villages initiative to transform the existing New Gate Arts and Culture Centre in the Fountain estate and the adjacent vacant site into a state-of-the-art shared performance space.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The North West Cultural Partnership has used arts and creativity as a catalyst for change over the years, bringing people from different backgrounds and cultures together in shared experiences.

“The investment of £1.7m by the Executive’s Urban Villages Initiative, in a new build multi-use performance space will expand their ability and opportunity to facilitate more activities and training; while connecting with wider audiences, not only from the Urban Village area but across the City and further afield, breathing new life into this area.”

The public can view plans at https://www.planningni.gov.uk/

FinTrU has been named in this year’s Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 as the 42nd fastest-growing company across the whole of the UK. The league table features the UK’s 100 private companies with the fastest growth over the last three years.

FinTrU Founder & CEO, Darragh McCarthy, said “This is a fantastic achievement and something that all our employees should be immensely proud of. Each and every member of the team has played a crucial role in FinTrU’s success so far and this national recognition is testament to their hard work and dedication during their FinTrU careers.”

The league table ranks businesses across the whole of the UK and FinTrU is the only company from Northern Ireland featured in the list.

FinTrU Chief of Staff, Katrien Roppe, also added “We are delighted that FinTrU has received this accolade. This is not only recognition for this year but for the past number of years in FinTrU’s short history. During this time, our employees have excelled professionally and demonstrated ambition with humility, whilst our company has undergone rapid growth. We recently opened our first US premises in New York, which demonstrates our commitment to expand our global footprint.”

Despite the pandemic, FinTrU has proven to very resilient during 2020 with a growth rate of 75% driven by operational excellence. The company has secured eight new client contracts and two additional Tier 1 Investment Bank clients during this period.

About FinTrU

Founded in December 2013, FinTrU is a multi-award winning RegTech company in the Financial Services sector that is committed to giving local talent the opportunity to work on the global stage with the largest International Investment Banks. FinTrU works with Tier 1 Investment Bank clients to find solutions to help them meet with their regulations in areas such as; Legal, Risk, Compliance, KYC, Operations, Consultancy and Technology. FinTrU employs over 700 people across Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, London and New York.

Date: 23 Sep 2020. A world-class Visitor Information Centre has officially opened in the heart of Derry-Londonderry.

Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor, Brian Tierney who officially opened Derry’s new state-of-the-art Visitor Information Centre at Waterloo Place, pictured with, Dave Vincent, Tourism NI, Colin Greer DFC, Catherine Crawley, centre manager and Odhran Dunne, Chief Executive, Visit Derry. The new centre, located in the heart of the city centre and adjacent to the historic City Walls, will be the new hub for tourists to the city and area looking for advice and information on the top attractions to visit and what events are happening across the city and district. Picture Martin McKeown. 23.09.20

Today marked the opening of Derry’s new state-of-the-art Visitor Information Centre at Waterloo Place. The new centre, located in the heart of the city centre and adjacent to the historic City Walls, will be the new hub for tourists to the city and area, looking for advice and information on the top attractions to visit and what events are happening across the city and district.

The refurbishment works commenced in December of last year following the decision by Derry City and Strabane District Council to relocate the Visit Derry Information Centre from Foyle Street into the city centre. Thanks to funding from Council, the Department for Communities, the Department for Economy and Tourism NI, work commenced on the project to put in place a world-class tourist facility for the city and region.

Welcoming the completion of the works and the opening of the new facility, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Brian Tierney said the opening of the new visitor information office was a significant milestone for Derry and the wider region.

He said: “This is a fantastic facility and I am hugely impressed with the work that has been done to create this world-class centre in the heart of our city. This is a very important tourism capital project for Council and all our partners. We believe that it will greatly benefit our tourism business and domestic and overseas visitors and allow us to showcase and promote our tourism product in a much more animated way to a wider audience.

“This facility will enhance the entire Waterloo Place area of the city and bring new life and activity into a key retail area in the city centre. We believe this location, right in the heart of the city centre and adjacent to the historic city walls, will be popular with tourists as Guildhall Square and Waterloo Place is a central hub for visitors to the city and that it will also greatly help retailers and local businesses in that area of the city centre.”

The Chief Executive of Tourism NI, John McGrillen commented; “This is a significant project for tourism in Derry~Londonderry and we are delighted to support it. The new visitor centre will provide an interactive experience with enhanced digital offering and combined with the new central location, this will allow visitors to easily access information on everything the city has to offer. This new interactive visitor centre also compliments Tourism NI’s new experience brand, Embrace a Giant Spirit and sends a clear message to the people here that they should stay home, support local and explore what is on our doorstep.”

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: “I am delighted that my Department has been able to support this project to relocate the Visit Derry Visitor Information Centre to a more central location.  The new state of the art facility offers a unique and inspirational visitor experience in an attractive and accessible setting and will provide a much needed boost to the city’s tourism offering.  This investment is timely as we work to support the economic recovery of our town and city centres from the impacts of Covid-19The completion of this project will breathe much needed new life into the city centre at a difficult time for traders.”

Economy Minister Diane Dodds said: “Northern Ireland is world-renowned for its tourism and hospitality offering and this new centre showcases the many visitor attractions here in Londonderry and the surrounding areas. With so many people staycationing this year, I hope as many people as possible will use the new centre to find out something about their local area, and take advantage of the many wonderful tourism experiences and visitor destinations right on their doorstep.”

Since 2016 Visit Derry has been operating its marketing and administrative functions from the Waterloo Place building. As part of the relocation, the remaining front of house tourist staff will relocate from Foyle Street to the newly refurbished Waterloo Place location.

Funding for the project has been provided by Tourism NI, the Department for Communities, the Department for the Economy and Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Construction work commenced in December 2019 and was suspended temporarily as a result of COVID-19 but recommenced in recent weeks to facilitate the official opening.

Ulster University’s new School of Medicine at Magee is now recruiting future doctors after progressing through the next steps of the General Medical Council’s rigorous quality assurance process.

With support from the Executive, ring-fenced funding combined with the GMC’s recent review of the University’s readiness, allows the school to recruit staff and students for a September 2021 opening.

Professor Louise Dubras, Ulster University.

Ulster University’s new School of Medicine based on the Magee campus is now recruiting Northern Ireland’s future doctors following a successful progression through the next steps of the General Medical Council’s (GMC) rigorous quality assurance process for new medical schools.  

With support from the Executive, ring-fenced funding was announced last month, combined with the GMC’s recent review of the University’s state of readiness, enables Ulster University to recruit staff and students for a  September 2021 opening. Ulster University’s School of Medicine will select students who have already completed an undergraduate degree and provide them with four years of innovative, intensive, practical medical education. The School will offer a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) medical degree programme that is unique in Northern Ireland.   

In 2018, The Department of Health commissioned a Review of Medical School Places which recommended that Northern Ireland needs 100 more medical students a year to meet the increasing demand for doctors. Currently, approximately 40% of medical graduates in Northern Ireland tend to stay and live within 10 miles of Queen’s University Belfast after graduation, according to the GMC. The new School of Medicine at Magee will address departmental recommendations by providing access to medical education in the North West, positioning the Derry~Londonderry City region as an attractive place to study and work. It further builds on Ulster University’s capacity to deliver life-changing education and research, supporting the health and well-being agenda in Northern Ireland.   

Students will benefit from access to clinical placements across the full range of general practice, medical and surgical specialities with primary care-based experience from week one. This will enable students to develop knowledge and appreciation of the interconnectivity between primary, secondary, social and community-based healthcare.  

Foundation Dean of the School of Medicine, Professor Louise Dubras who will lead the Gradate Entry degree programme commented: “As a GP working in the city myself, I am continually reflecting on the role of the doctor and the doctor-patient journey.  COVID-19 has emphasised that a career as a doctor requires a commitment to lifelong learning and adapting to life’s modern challenges.   

“The MBBS programme at Ulster’s School of Medicine will provide students with the professional skills, knowledge and relevant clinical experience necessary to be a twenty first century doctor. Working closely with our partner medical School St George’s University of London and alongside globally acclaimed visiting professors, our medical provision, rooted in the heart of Derry-Londonderry on our Magee campus, will provide the much-needed doctors required for the North West.  

“The School of Medicine on our Magee campus will attract students to study, work and live in the North West and will be a catalyst in the innovation corridor to be established as part of the City Deal. We look forward to taking the next steps and to welcoming our first medical students ready to embark upon such a rewarding and vital career path with us.”  

The Graduate Entry programme offered at Ulster’s School of Medicine is open to anyone with a minimum of a 2:1 honours degree in any subject:  Applicants are required to sit the GAMSAT entrance exam in September 2020 or March 2021 at the location most convenient for them, with the Magee campus recently added as a  test centre on the island of Ireland. Those successful in the GAMSAT will be invited to Multiple Mini interviews which have to be passed, along with an Enhanced Disclosure from Access NI or other relevant authority before offers can be made. The University will work with key partners to establish a scholarship fund to support students, details will be announced early next year.  

 The University has already received hundreds of enquiries from the North West, across the island of Ireland and the UK who are keen to find out more about the School of Medicine and the MBBS Medicine programme of study. For more information, visit ulster.ac.uk/medicine 

All new medical school applications must complete a GMC multi-stage approval process. Now that this milestone has been passed, work will continue with an ongoing programme of checks and visits over the coming months and years to make sure that the medical school remains satisfactory and passes all GMC quality assurance requirements. Once all of these stages have been completed, and subject to the approval of GMC Council, the school will be added to the list of institutions able to award its own primary medical qualifications in 2025.