In June 2020, Derry City and Strabane District Council granted planning permission for the major international data centre developer, Atlantic Hub, to locate the centre at the Foyle Port Innovation Park. Work began this month on the development which will host computer data and services equipment for large tech companies, catering to the growing global tech sector and generating up to 100 jobs.

The campus at Foyle Port will have the capacity for up to 500,000 sq ft of technical floorspace, one of the largest ever infrastructure developments in the North West. It will offer world class services to large corporates and hyperscale data centre operators, utilising the EXA (Kelvin), transatlantic fibre-optic submarine cable, providing excellent connectivity to North America and Europe.

“After a significant period of preparation, we are delighted to begin construction of our flagship development project”, said Brian Doherty, Managing Director at Atlantic Hub. “We consider the North West to be an excellent location for our data centre development, and our investment in the region reflects the fantastic economic opportunities on offer here. With unique access to the UK and EU markets, this development is set to attract some of the largest global companies and investors to our shores in the coming years.”

With a ‘twin’ site in Letterkenny also being considered as part of the same cross border campus, this development forms part of transformative work from across the North West to boost our offering to foreign investors. The strategic location provides connectivity to local energy supplies generated from 100% certified renewable sources.

Learning Pool has paid an undisclosed sum for True Office Learning, a firm in the United States which specialises in compliance training.

True Office was at one time owned by the New York Stock Exchange.

Learning Pool’s chief executive Ben Betts said the deal with True Office Learning is “a significant step” for the Derry-based company.

“In the past two years, the way we work and learn has changed dramatically, and our aim is to lead the way in reshaping the new workplace learning landscape,” Mr Betts said.

The addition of True Office should take Learning Pool’s annual turnover to around £50m. The firm is aiming to significantly grow its business in the US where it already has an office in Colorado.

True Office’s major clients include the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and the agri-food company, Cargill. Learning Pool was founded in 2006 by Paul McElvaney, who is now the firm’s executive chair.

The company provides online training courses for a range of major businesses and public sector organisations.

Last year a US private equity firm, Marlin Equity Partners, bought a majority stake in the business.

Are you returning to the North West for Christmas? A new campaign is encouraging local diaspora to consider moving home for good.

Job opportunities, career progression, quality of life and the benefits of the £250m City Deal are among the key draws highlighted by the ‘Come Home to Us’ campaign, spearheaded by Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Investment team.

It features testimonials from local people who have returned to live, work and invest in the region after working abroad, plus information about the range and quality of jobs available, from attractive entry level roles to senior executive positions.

A range of ‘Work Life Balanced’ promotional videos, social media and digital advertising will be released over the festive period to support people who want to move home and build a life in the North West – whether it’s setting up their own business, finding a great job, working remotely, or availing of the excellent schools and natural beauty on our doorstep.

The campaign will also showcase the transformative £250m Derry and Strabane City Deal, which will further boost the local economy through cutting edge innovation and research, job creation and regeneration.

Meanwhile, the Invest Derry Strabane website also features a special round-up of companies currently hiring in the North West, including global firms such as Allstate and Seagate, local success stories such as Learning Pool and Elemental, and ground-breaking gaming company Hypixel Studios.

Rosalind Young, investment manager at Derry City and Strabane District Council said: “This is a fantastic time to consider a move home. There are a wide range of opportunities available in the North West, whether you’re a graduate, on your second or third job, or looking for an experienced, senior level role.

“We have a great variety of sectors here who are currently hiring – from financial services and software development, to advanced manufacturing, engineering and life sciences – and a fantastic ecosystem of businesses, both homegrown successes and multinational companies all serving global clients from the North West.

“The recent shift towards remote working has also demonstrated that people don’t have to live in a major metropolis to do business, stay connected and progress their career path. This campaign is a chance to showcase the opportunities available in the Derry and Strabane region, and celebrate what makes it such a great place to live, work, invest and come back to.”

Ryan Williams is director of home care innovator Connected Health, and founder of business incubator and co-working space The AMP, which recently opened a new site at Derry’s Ebrington Square.

“I think there’s an increasing ecology of career progression in Derry, of moving from one company to the next. There are more senior positions, more technical positions here now, and a much better standard of life than somewhere like London or Dublin,” he said.

Jennifer Neff is co-founder of the award-winning social prescribing software company Elemental. She moved home to Derry and founded the company with Leeann Monk after living in Edinburgh and Manchester.

She said: “I am getting everything I need from this city and region and I am giving back too, having created 35 jobs at Elemental with my business partner, Leeann Monk. There is an energy here right now that I haven’t seen before. Lots of people are making great things happen and there is a chance to be part of that by moving to this wonderful place.”

For a round-up of companies currently hiring in the North West, visit https://investderrystrabane.com/worklife/

Software development company AquaQ Analytics is recruiting 40 staff for its new North West branch.

The Belfast-based business, which was founded in 2011 and employs around 250 people globally, is one of Northern Ireland’s fastest growing companies. It provides specialist consulting, software and data services, cloud solutions and more, to clients working in sectors including capital markets and Tier One investment banks. 

It hopes the new roles, which will offer a flexible mix of home and office working, will attract people living in the North West as well as border counties in the Republic of Ireland.

AquaQ recently held an insight event in Derry’s City Hotel to help potential employees and new graduates find out more about the business and speak with staff.

Ronan Pairceir, CEO of AquaQ, said: “We look forward to our expansion into the North West. Since the start of Covid, we have added an additional 100 employees around the world, with plans to reach 400 employees globally over the coming 18 months.”

Patrick Farren, Head of Engineering, added: “We are looking to recruit Java and React developers for our rapidly expanding Software Engineering division. These roles will involve using modern development tools and concepts to deliver high quality, best practice software solutions to our clients. Successful applicants will require a mix of technical and client-facing skills, offering highly rewarding careers for the right people.”

Financial services firm FinTrU has announcing it is opening an office in Maastricht.

​Based at the southern tip of The Netherlands, next to the Belgian border, the Maastricht site will help the company support its Tier 1 Investment Bank clients and assist them in managing their global regulatory requirements.

Setting up a base in the Dutch city (where the Maastricht Treaty was signed in 1992, establishing both the EU and the Euro) further strengthens FinTrU’s operation in Europe. The company also opened a new Dublin office in September.

FinTrU, which currently employs more than 900 people across Derry, Belfast, London, Dublin and New York, is now recruiting for new roles in Maastricht. For more information on vacancies, visit FinTrU’s career portal: www.fintru.com/careers

Derry-based Alchemy Technology Services has been ranked at number 10 on a list of the UK’s Best Workplaces for Tech.

When the list of medium-sized tech firms was compiled, by the Great Place to Work institute, 97% of Alchemy’s workforce said: ‘Our customers would rate the service we deliver as “excellent”’.

The news follows Alchemy’s recent rankings as number 29 on the UK’s Best Workplaces list, and number 11 on the UK’s Best Workplaces for Women list.

Alchemy was launched in September 2018 to provide insurance software implementation and support. Since then, it has grown from two people to more than 100 staff, working with insurance companies, system integrators and software providers to support the digitisation of the global insurance industry.

CEO John Harkin said: “We spend a lot of time and money on developing our culture. We foster a workplace that encourages and values collaboration, knowledge sharing and discourages internal competition and we have achieved this when 18 of the 36 months we have been in business have been spent in lockdown.”

Alchemy is currently hiring Senior Technical Analysts to join their team. For more information visit www.alchemytechs.com

Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS), a global leader in business process management and optimising the customer experience lifecycle, is encouraging North West job seekers to apply for a range of new roles.

HGS recently announced plans to create over 560 jobs across Northern Ireland in customer service, management, and support, with employees able to take advantage of the firm’s flexible work at home model.

With more than 400 positions recruited and confirmed already, HGS is promoting a range of jobs that are currently still available.

Rosalind Young, investment manager at Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “We’re pleased that HGS is building its presence in this region, with a view to establishing one of their Engagement Hubs in the future. We already know this area is full of talent and potential, and we have been promoting the Northern Ireland as a premium remote working destination for a while now.

“HGS is an excellent company that offers a fantastic range of employment opportunities across our Council area. All of the posts will primarily be home-based, and customer service experience is highly desirable in candidates. Home-based posts come with a number of positive attributes in that they offer less travelling for staff, a better work life balance, and more flexibility. Full training will be provided, and the posts will be particularly suited to those in our Council area attracted to working from home through lifestyle or necessity, and those who live in more remote communities.”

You can send your CV directly to Preston.Recruitment@teamhgs.com

Local employers have joined forces with academics, educators and the Council to encourage further growth of the North West’s digital, creative and fintech sectors.

The Homeground website and interactive digital map profiles more than 90 local companies who between them have created thousands of jobs and are generating millions of pounds in revenue.

The collaboration is intended to raise awareness of the fastest growing sectors in the North West and help ensure a future pipeline of talent by informing young people about the global career opportunities on their doorstep.

Homeground.me

Website visitors can view the map of Derry, Strabane and Letterkenny and click on company logos to discover more information and contact details.

Through Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Education & Skills Delivery Partnership, government, schools, higher and further education institutions and industry are working together to recognise skills gaps, identify how to attract or grow this talent, and nurture the workforce of tomorrow.

Columb Duffy, senior leader at Allstate NI in the North West, is chair of the partnership’s Digital, Creative and Financial Technologies Subgroup.  He said: “The digital, creative and Fintech sectors have been steadily growing in the North West, with over 100 companies offering job opportunities with excellent work-life balance and competitive salaries right here on our doorstep.”

For more information on these companies, explore the interactive digital map at www.homeground.me​.

Magherafelt-based Bloc Group is further expanding its NI operation through a major investment in FAST Technologies in Londonderry. The deal is significant for both Bloc and FAST (Factory Automation & Systems Technologies) bringing together two highly innovative, export-focused manufacturing operations which excel in design and engineering.

Colin Spence, Technical sales director, FAST Technologies, Eamonn Lynch, co-founder FAST Technologies, Cormac Diamond, managing director, Bloc and Ciara McGonnell Cushnahan, financial director, Bloc

FAST provides bespoke technical solutions to its global client base which includes DuPont, Unilever, Caterpillar and Seagate.

Speaking about the new development and what it means for both businesses, Cormac Diamond, managing director of Bloc the deal will enable them to ‘helping organisations streamline and enhance their business processes and operations’.

He continued: “The level of expertise which FAST brings in terms of ‘best-in-class’ manufacturing and automation, complements and furthers Bloc’s long term growth strategy.

“Set against the current climate of supply chain challenges, labour and skills shortages, we view FAST as a solutions provider to the wider business market.

“It has a proven track record in the application of automation across all sectors and industries, and together we will take this expertise to the next level, ultimately helping organisations streamline and enhance their business processes and operations.”

In addition to its impact at a regional level, Cormac believes the synergies between Bloc and FAST will underpin the continued success of both brands and offer great economic potential globally.

He explained: “In bringing together two locally-owned organisations that share a common culture and philosophy we’re able to seize joint opportunities, bring new ideas to life and create solutions which deliver positive outcomes at both business and consumer levels.”

Welcoming the deal, Eamonn Lynch of FAST Technologies, added: “We believe this represents a new and very exciting chapter for both companies and our combined workforce.

“Bloc’s support and investment will enable us to consolidate and strengthen our offering and help FAST rise to the next level in terms of opportunity and growth.”

The FAST team will continue to operate as a stand-alone manufacturing operation at its existing site in Londonderry’s Skeoge Industrial Estate. Co-founder Eamonn Lynch and technical sales director Colin Spence will also continue to head up FAST’s management team.

Bloc are a global manufacturing and design company based in Magherafelt with divisions in Belfast and The Netherlands and is renowned as one of the UK’s leading designers and manufacturers of innovative blinds and skylight systems and recently pivoted into the healthcare solutions industry.

Employing over 250 staff, the company was established in 2009 and consists of Bloc Blinds, Bloc Healthcare Solutions and Bloc Labs.

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.”