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.”

Hypixel Studios, the videogame developer behind upcoming title Hytale, will establish its headquarters in Derry~Londonderry as part of its acquisition by US-based developer and publisher Riot Games.

Hypixel Studios was established in 2018 as a spin-off of Hypixel Inc, the creators of one of the world’s most popular independent game servers, with a leadership team including Derry~Londonderry natives Aaron ‘Noxy’ Donaghey and Sean McCafferty. The studio has traditionally operated entirely remotely, with a geographically-dispersed team of over 40 developers. In December 2018, the company announced its debut title, Hytale, a community-powered game that allows players to go on adventures in a block-based fantasy world, express their creativity through extensive built-in customisation tools, and compete in quick and accessible online minigames.

Artwork from Hytale, developed by Hypixel Studios.

Hytale has received a monumental reception from the gaming community. It has amassed over 2.5 million sign-ups for its forthcoming beta testing program, and its debut trailer has received millions of views on YouTube. It was nominated for ‘Most Anticipated Game’ at the 2019 Golden Joystick Awards. In November 2019, Hypixel Studios announced that it is planning for Hytale to be playable by everyone in 2021.

Hypixel Studios today announced its acquisition by Riot Games, the developer and publisher best known for League of Legends. Hypixel Studios will continue to operate as an independent studio while leveraging Riot’s expertise, technology and resources to support the development of Hytale, including the establishment of the company’s first physical office in Derry~Londonderry.

“When the question of where to set up came into the conversation there was no doubt in my mind that we should set up in Derry~Londonderry,” said Hypixel Studios Chief Executive Officer Aaron ‘Noxy’ Donaghey. “Many members of our team have enjoyed visiting the city over the years, and as a base to develop many of our team’s functions, it has both the talent pool and – more importantly – the spark of hunger necessary to ignite creativity.”

“As part of our acquisition, we had the opportunity to pick almost anywhere in the world, but one of my favourite sayings is ‘when the roots are deep, you need not fear the wind’ – and Hypixel’s roots in Derry and Northern Ireland are deep,” Donaghey said. “It may seem strange to be announcing such a move in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, but games and home entertainment are now more important than ever and we have a community of millions to be looking after. Our company HQ will be the nexus for these ongoing efforts.”

The present COVID-19 crisis means that an opening date for the new office cannot currently be set. When it opens, the Hypixel Studios office will act as a base for back-office functions and quality assurance throughout the development process. Hypixel Studios is initially hiring 20 highly skilled new positions in these areas, all based in Derry~Londonderry. The company anticipates further growth as development of Hytale continues and the needs of the project evolve.

“Our offices in Derry will be the backbone that allows our remote development team to work effectively,” said Hypixel Studios Chief Operating Officer Sean McCafferty. “There, we will not only have our back-office services such as finance, recruitment and general operations, but as we move through the year we will be ramping up areas such as quality assurance while providing a space for our remote workers to congregate a few times a year.”

“I’ve been in game development for 20 years at this stage, always working around the north west and Derry~Londonderry specifically,” McCafferty said. “It has been my greatest wish to bring game development, wholesale, to the place in which I grew up. Having worked in the space for this length of time and to be finally in a position to help bring a game studio to ‘the town’ is something incredibly special to me – a life-long wish that is finally coming true.”

Hypixel Studios’ office in Northern Ireland is being established with support from Northern Ireland Screen, the national screen agency for Northern Ireland.

Richard Williams, CEO of Northern Ireland Screen, said; “We are absolutely delighted that Hypixel Studios is setting up its latest hugely ambitious games venture in Derry~Londonderry with the support of Riot Games, one of the biggest game publishers in the world.  We are in no doubt that this hard won next step for Aaron and Sean is hugely important for the video games sector in Northern Ireland.   Hypixel Studios and Riot Games can do for the games sector here what HBO and Game of Thrones did for the TV drama sector.“

In addition, advice has been provided by Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Kevin O’Connor, Head of Business for Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “Derry City and Strabane District Council have been delighted to coordinate with Hypixel Studios over the last number of months. The selection of the North West is a further endorsement of the City/Region as a key investment location. The availability of a highly skilled talent pool, world-class digital connectivity and unparalleled quality of life have obviously featured heavily in this decision. This is an exciting development for the City providing well-paid jobs in a growing sector of the economy “

For more information on Hypixel Studios and Hytale, visit www.hytale.com

LIMERICK-based tech firm Deveire has set up a new software development centre in Derry’s Ebrington Square, as it looks to guarantee access to the UK markets post-Brexit. The Irish web solutions company has said it expects to create 15 new jobs at the site over the next three years. Invest NI has offered the firm £97,500 in support.

Set up over 10 years ago, the company specialises in building web solutions for enterprises and large organisations looking to use the latest technologies for their digital presence.

Deveire has delivered platforms that power the systems behind over 50 globally-renowned companies including Johnson & Johnson, Cisco, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Amazon and the Special Olympics. It has also developed National Geographic’s and Hallmark’s video platforms.

Welcoming the company to Northern Ireland, Steve Harper, Executive Director of International Business, Invest Northern Ireland, said: “Deveire’s decision to locate its new centre in the North West is based on the many advantages this region has to offer international companies, particularly in the software and technology industry.

“With our support for 15 new jobs, the company will be able to build upon its innovative ambitions and expand in new markets. The new centre will also create economic benefit for the local economy, with £582,000 of additional annual salaries.”

Invest NI is offering the company £97,500 to support the creation of the new jobs.

Cathal Murtagh, Chief Operating Officer of Deveire, said: “When we began the process of expanding our team, we were eager to create a base where we had access to a strong talent pool of software developers; we believe Londonderry is the right place to find the talent we need.

“Also, as a part of our Brexit strategy, the Londonderry office gives us access to the UK markets. Invest NI’s support has been invaluable, helping us to build a team whose innovative expertise will allow us to develop new products and grow and explore success in global markets.

“Our Software Development Centre will focus on advanced computing and innovative technical approaches, to build next generation application solutions. It will have a strong focus on culture and people, through our working environment, but this will also be a key objective of our software solutions. Our aim is to create software that meets the users’ needs to allow for seamless experiences that are personal to a user, allowing people to reach their full potential.” The company’s new centre will be based in Ebrington Square, Londonderry

Pictured (L-R) are Steve Harper, Executive Director of International Business, Invest NI, with Cathal Murtagh, Chief Operating Officer, Deveire.

Technical fire engineering services specialist, Joule Group is winning new business in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar following R&D investment. The new contracts are being delivered by the team in Northern Ireland, creating 16 new jobs at its Londonderry headquarters.

The company offers consultancy expertise on fire engineering design, construction and operational processes. Its digital technology platform, Total Fire Solutions (TFS), improves fire safety in buildings such as airports, hotels, retail and sports venues.

It has recently secured fire engineering consultancy services on two major infrastructure projects with a stadium project in Doha and airport development in the UAE. These are multi-year deals for complex engineering projects.

The company already has a portfolio of prestigious projects across 10 different countries from Europe to Middle East and North Africa. This includes working on 10 of the signature super high rise towers in King Abdullah Financial District in Saudi Arabia which will host the G20 Summit in 2020.

John Noone, co-founder and director of Joule Group, said: “We are striving to create a safer world through our transformational technology and are committed to digital fire safety globally. The continual support we have received from Invest NI has been invaluable to the growth of our business.

“By undertaking R&D we have been able to develop our TFS product and secure innovative export deals with globally renowned companies. Business is developing rapidly so we have created a specialist team in the North West to focus on growing in international markets.”

Invest Northern Ireland has offered the company support of over £200,000 to innovate through R&D and to expand its workforce, as well as support towards export market visits. Job opportunities at the company include software engineers, fire engineers, a business support manager and business director. Recruitment is underway, with seven of the 16 roles in place.

Des Gartland, North West Regional Office Manager, Invest NI, said: “Joule Group is a perfect example of how, when a business invests in R&D and in exploring new export markets, it can grow its business and lead to new job creation.

“Our support, both financial and advisory, has helped the company to reach its full potential and we are delighted to see the team grow here. The company’s specialist expertise in the fire engineering sector is already delivering success in international markets, and we look forward to seeing them continue their growth.”

Joule Group’s innovation has been recognised nationally with the Disruptor of the Year award at the Ulster Bank Great British & Northern Irish Entrepreneur Awards 2019.

The company also has offices in Belfast, London, Doha and Dubai.

Global manufacturer Terex has officially opened its new £12m facility in Campsie, which will create 100 jobs locally.

The firm, which makes lifting and material processing solutions, unveiled the 105,000 square foot facility where heavy equipment for Terex Ecotec (waste management and recycling) and mobile conveyors will be manufactured.

Speaking at a reception of over 100 representatives from educational, political and business institutions in the area, Kieran Hegarty, president of Terex Materials Processing revealed that the manufacturer has “ambitious plans for growth” in the future.

“We’ve a fantastic local team now in place and trained in our world-class manufacturing processes. But we don’t stop there. Terex has ambitious plans for growth and just as important as this new facility and filling our current vacant positions is in developing and retaining our people so we have the skills needed to deliver our ambitious growth plans,” he said.

Discussing the new facility, Mr Hegarty added: “As people, businesses and governments become more aware of their carbon footprint we’re seeing enormous growth in demand for environmental equipment globally.

“We’re excited that Terex Campsie has started producing equipment to cater for this market – the type of equipment capable of processing construction and demolition waste or everyday waste from your home – to be exported all over the world.”

Manufacturing at Terex Campsie is underway, with almost 40% of the initial 100 jobs filled. Northern Ireland is a key manufacturing location for the firm, with nine sites in the region and more than 1800 people employed.

Derry City and Strabane District Council Deputy Mayor, Cara Hunter said: “The grand opening today is very good news for our region and reaffirms the North West’s position as a competitive, exciting and innovative place to do business.”

A cybersecurity company has announced 70 new jobs in Derry-Londonderry as part of a £4.5 million investment.

Based in the city, MetaComplance develops cloud software for cybersecurity and compliance, providing software solutions and e-learning content to educate employees on the dangers of a cyberattack.

The firm is looking to grow its business into new markets in the US and Europe. The 70 new jobs, which will help develop the cybersecurity learning market via cloud-based solutions, will inject an estimated £1.9 million per year in additional salaries into the local economy.

MetaCompliance chief executive Robert O’Brien said: “Our ambition is to be internationally recognised in our field of expertise. We have seen a rapid global increase in the demand of cybersecurity products and services, particularly since GDPR has been implemented.

Invest Northern Ireland has offered £695,000 of support towards creating the new jobs and market development activity.

John Hood of Invest NI said: “MetaCompliance is already a strongly established business within the cybersecurity sector. The creation of these jobs will build upon its previous success and help the company to expand its presence in the North West, the cybersecurity market, and in new markets.

Invest NI has previously supported MetaCompliance with job creation investment in 2017; management and digital training for employee development; and R&D support for its Voyager and MyCompliance Cloud user awareness cloud solutions. The company is also currently receiving support through Invest NI’s Skills Growth Programme.