Health Minister Robin Swann has officially opened a Campsie-based manufacturing facility supplying vital PPE to health workers.

NorthWest Medical has created 25 new jobs after being awarded a £6.5m contract to supply Type IIR face masks to the health service in Northern Ireland.

Minister Swann said: “Demand for PPE has soared during the pandemic with many health systems around the world facing challenges in securing stocks of protective equipment. In Northern Ireland, we saw local manufacturers and businesses quickly diversify, recognising that their skills, expertise and assembly lines could be repurposed and they too could join the fight against this virus.”

Director of NorthWest Medical, Gavin Killeen, added: “We are exploring how we can move into other areas so that we can continue to create employment locally and at the same time support our health service by providing a resilient supply line.”

North West firm E&I Engineering will recruit 100 new staff in the next year after its acquisition by the US-based infrastructure solutions and services company Vertiv.

The electrical switchgear manufacturer has plants across Derry and Donegal and employs more than 2,100 people worldwide.

With all current roles to be safeguarded in the takeover, E&I says it will recruiting around 100 new staff across its three locations in the North West in the next year.

Ohio-headquartered Vertiv offers power, cooling and IT infrastructure solutions and services to customers in the data centre, communications, commercial and industrial markets. It has a workforce of over 20,000 across more than 130 countries.

E&I Engineering founder and chief executive, Philip O’Doherty, said: “We are excited to join the Vertiv team and continue to grow our business through Vertiv’s global reach, strong channel presence and great customer positioning in critical digital infrastructures.”

Version 1, the global IT services company currently recruiting remote working staff in the North West, has teamed up with mental health charity Aware NI to help ensure that its employees are fully supported during COVID-19.  

Invest Derry Strabane – which recently launched the Work Life Balanced campaign in association with Version 1, aimed at promoting the North West as a premium remote working destination – has welcomed the company’s initiatives which also include supporting the local community where their staff are based.

Version 1 took the decision to support a mental health charity when the consequences of the pandemic became overwhelmingly apparent during the last 18 months. People were forced to adapt to significant lifestyle changes, such as working from home and limiting social interactions. This in turn led to an increase in people experiencing isolation, anxiety, stress, and grief at losing loved ones.

Additionally, the tech firm’s commitment to supporting the local community is a critical element of its core values. Community First is Version 1’s main Corporate Social Responsibility initiative and is driven locally by the employees. The aim of this scheme is to improve employment opportunities in communities by supporting awareness, education, and access by leveraging technology and skills.

Community First is locally driven, enabling each Version 1 office to support causes they care about in their particular area. Some of the Community First initiatives include mentoring, helping local schools, grinds, tackling youth homelessness and community engagement.

Version 1 has also been officially recognised as a Healthy Place to Work. This was achieved by engaging employees in the completion of a robust survey covering four pillars – purpose, mental resilience, connection and physical health – which gathered insight into their experience of work. From the results, the company was able to put together a plan identifying paths to improvement, which subsequently led to the prestigious certification.

Lorna McAdoo, Director of Operations and Business Development NI at Version 1, said: “Our support for Aware NI stemmed from a wish to highlight the mental toll that the pandemic has been inflicting on so many people. The charity helps people realise that it is okay not to be okay, and this service has proved to be invaluable. We have also benefitted from online sessions held by Aware NI to help us all with various tools to use during this time to reinforce resilience and ensure we have been adapting well to the working from home model.

“We are also extremely proud of the visible efforts the company has made to reach out to local communities, and our Community First activities have enabled many people to access education and skills that drive employment opportunities.

“In addition, Version 1’s recognition as a Healthy Place to Work in Northern Ireland was a significant milestone for our company. Being spread across five countries presents its own set of challenges and it has been absolutely critical to ensure our employees are happy and healthy. We have been able to benchmark our progress through the data provided during the process and are now updating and creating initiatives and strategies across our operations to ensure our workforce is the healthiest it can be.”

Rosalind Young, Investment Manager at Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “Version 1’s approach to dealing with the impact of COVID-19 is exemplary. The company’s commitment to providing mental help and support is evident through their partnership with Aware NI, and their track record of maintaining a community-focused approach is also welcomed as they expand their workforce in the North West.

“I would also like to congratulate Version 1 on their official recognition as a Healthy Place to Work. With the company bringing many highly skilled new jobs to the Derry City and Strabane District Council area, we are delighted that their staff will benefit from our Work Life Balanced campaign.”

For more information on the Version 1 roles available in the North West and to apply, visit the Invest DS jobs portal at www.investderrystrabane.com/worklife

Health Minister Robin Swann has officially opened a manufacturing facility on the outskirts of Londonderry which supplies vital PPE to health workers in Northern Ireland.

The Campsie-based firm, NorthWest Medical has created 25 new jobs after being awarded a £6.5m contract to supply Type IIR face masks to the health service in Northern Ireland.

Minister Swann said: “Demand for PPE has soared during the pandemic with many health systems around the world facing challenges in securing stocks of protective equipment. In Northern Ireland, we saw local manufacturers and businesses quickly diversify, recognising that their skills, expertise and assembly lines could be repurposed and they too could join the fight against this virus.

Health Minister Robin Swann with North West Medical Engineering Manager Harry McCorry

NorthWest Medical is one of five local businesses that now have contracts in place with BSO to supply clinical standard masks for health and social care staff. Securing local stock lines not only enables good continuity of supply of PPE for our front line workers, but is also beneficial to the wider Northern Ireland economy with BSO PPE contracts representing a total £95 million local investment.” 

The Health Minister thanked NorthWest Medical and all the businesses that have joined in the effort to supply critical PPE items: “The response of our local businesses has been remarkable. Manufacturers the length and breadth of the province have stepped forward over the past 18 months and I want to thank them all for their efforts.”

Director of NorthWest Medical, Gavin Killeen said: “We were delighted to have the Health Minister officially open our new state-of-the art manufacturing and cleanroom facility here at Campsie. We were privileged to answer the call from local health trusts to manufacture the much needed Type IIR surgical face masks and be able to play our part in supporting frontline health workers.

“Since establishing this facility, NorthWest Medical has been able to create 25 jobs and we now want to see the business grow and develop further. We are exploring how we can move into other areas so that we can continue to create employment locally and at the same time support our health service by providing a resilient supply line.”

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.”

The opening of Ulster University’s new School of Medicine at Magee is gathering pace with the hiring of three new team members.

The School, which will welcome its first intake of students this August, recently appointed Dr Lysa Owen as Senior Lecturer in Clinical Skills, Jason Murray as Technical Services Coordinator, and Claire McDaid as School Administrative Officer.

Recruitment is also underway for a Director of Education.

Speaking about the appointments, Professor Louise Dubras, Foundation Dean of the School of Medicine said: “Lysa joins us from the new Graduate Entry Medical School in Scotland at the Universities of St. Andrews and Dundee and will bring a wealth of experience to bear in her role as Senior Lecturer in Clinical Skills.

“I am also delighted to welcome two existing members of the Ulster University network to join our growing team at the School of Medicine. Claire and Jason’s institutional knowledge of Ulster University, the student body and the North West area will serve our new students and staff excellently.”

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.

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.

A leading Derry/Londonderry-based financial services firm has enjoyed its best quarter to date, despite the global COVID-19 crisis.


Executive Director and Head of FinTrU North West, Greg McCann

Since the coronavirus lockdown, FinTrU has acquired two major new clients, and made 75 new hires for its bases in the North West and Belfast.

The award-winning company’s Financial Services Academies have also continued virtually, with the latest cohort having been trained remotely and now working in a variety of roles.

Executive Director and Head of FinTrU North West, Greg McCann, said the firm was looking forward to a “very healthy pipeline of new business opportunities”, and recommended the North West as an excellent location for other investors.

In mid-March, FinTrU took swift action and decided all 450 employees, including more than 120 staff in the Derry offices, should switch to remote working during the Covid crisis.

“It was a very busy few weeks getting everyone set up at home and making sure they had the right equipment, but the connectivity has been great in the North West, and we’re fortunate to work in a sector that has been quite robust during this period,” said Mr McCann.

“We’ve continued to grow, and keep doing what we do best. We haven’t had to avail of any government aid or furlough any staff.”

FinTrU was founded in 2013 and opened its North West site two years ago, attracted by the excellent pool of talent in the region, including graduates from local institutions such as Ulster University’s Magee campus and the Letterkenny Institute of Technology.

It plans to have 305 staff in the city over five years, and is ahead of track to meet this target. Hiring has also continued during the pandemic, with FinTrU working hard to ensure that new recruits working from home feel welcome, through virtual coffee breaks, ‘buddying up’ with existing employees along with other online internal networking activities.

“We aim to have 600 people working at FinTrU in Northern Ireland by the end of this year. We’re well on schedule, and Covid-19 hasn’t changed that,” Mr McCann added.

The Limavady native also praised the North West as a great place to invest.

“Every academy we’ve run, we’ve been oversubscribed and we’ve always been able to select the right people because there are a lot of high quality graduates from the local universities and colleges,” he added.

“We’ve had no technical issues during Covid-19; the connectivity has been good. I think after lockdown, people will be thinking more than ever about quality of life – which is excellent here, with beaches and beautiful scenery on our doorstep.

“This access to the outdoors in the North West has also been great for staff wellbeing during the pandemic – it’s something you just don’t get in more built-up cities.”

As well as a societal shift towards more home working, Mr McCann said the City and District may benefit from businesses deciding to ‘reshore’ outsourced functions back to Northern Ireland.

“We’re aware that clients have had issues in some parts of the world that haven’t responded as well to Covid,” he added.

“We’ve had lots of fantastic feedback from clients; we’ve had no drop off of our service to them, we’ve been able to respond rapidly, with great connectivity. We’re hoping to see the benefit of that going forward.”