Ulster University’s Pro Vice Chancellor of Research Liam Maguire was joined by colleagues from the Derry-based Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC) at a Northern Ireland Business and Innovation Showcase in London.

Representatives from the university’s Engineering Composites Research Centre and Research and Impact Directorate also attended the event, which featured the best of Northern Ireland’s innovative businesses, start-ups and universities, showcasing what the region offers as an inward investment location and as a trade partner.

The Northern Ireland Office, the Department for International Trade and Invest NI partnered to host the September showcase, which Dr Alexander Chacko, UU’s head of Innovation and Impact, said “spread the message that Northern Ireland’s innovators, tech start-ups, and universities are leading the way in post-pandemic recovery.”

A new online support platform is offering free videos, articles and advice to anyone considering setting up their own business in Northern Ireland.

Rebel on Demand offers impartial advice on starting up without debt, making sales, and increasing confidence and motivation.

The on-demand service allows users to tailor their learning journey, record progress, and formulate an idea they are passionate about.

Once that creative spark has been found and developed, and is considered a viable career path, it can be explored in more detail with the Council’s Go For It programme and local Enterprise Agency.

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

For more information on Rebel on Demand visit https://www.derrystrabane.com/Business/Rebel-On-Demand For more information on Go For It visit https://www.goforitni.com/about-go-for-it/derry-city-and-strabane-district-council/

Local company Learning Pool has announced the acquisition of US-based Remote Learner.

Paul McElvaney Learning Pool CEO

Situated in Denver, Colorado, the LMS (Learning Management System) specialist has represented more than a million users for over two decades, with clients including recruitment giant Indeed, Royal Caribbean Group and Ultimate Kronos Group.

Remote Learner is the fourth firm to join the Learning Pool Group in recent years and the news follows strong 2020 annual results for the Derry-based e-learning business, which saw revenues up 32% to £18.1m.

Learning Pool CEO Paul McElvaney said: “This acquisition puts the Group in great shape to accelerate our already ambitious customer satisfaction and growth targets in the North American region and takes the global Learning Pool team to more than 260 dedicated and talented people.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

InterTradeIreland’s Fusion programme has awarded “Exemplar” status to five businesses across the island, two of which are Northern Ireland based.

The Fusion initiative supports business development by collaborating companies with a research institution and a graduate project manager, funded by InterTradeIreland.

The graduate then works directly with the business to deliver new products or improved processes over 12 to 18 months.

Operations manager Alan Morrow said: “All of these Fusion projects were in very different areas. However, all of the companies involved were open to new products and processes. This is what the Fusion programme is about – giving firms the tools to boost their business through innovative collaboration.”

The five businesses have reported sales of more than £2.2m between them and savings of over £150,000 during their Fusion projects.

They have combined anticipated sales upwards of £14m and savings of £400,000 over the next three years.

Belfast medtech Axial3D makes custom 3D printed replicas from medical scans, to improve outcomes for patients through better surgical planning. 

The company started its Fusion project to improve its capability of printing paediatric cardiac anatomy in 3D. It paired with Professor Kathleen Curran in University College Dublin and graduate James Fitzpatrick.

It has now developed new technology, entered a new market its staff has grown from 14 employees to 24. The company was also recently named ‘Health Technology leader’ in the 2020 Global Digital Health 100 list.

Hawthorn Heights in Eglinton, Derry/Londonderry specialises in the design and installation of play parks, sports pitches and landscaping.

It worked with Sligo Institute of Technology and graduate Ciaran Farren. The company said it has since doubled its turnover and has had to move to bigger premises.

Margaret Hearty, Director of Operations at InterTradeIreland concluded: “All of these companies have showcased the success and commercial benefits that come from collaboration. The results speak for themselves and we would encourage other SMEs who want to build innovation into their business to apply for our Fusion programme.”

We’ve made a list (and checked it twice) of some of the finest things to enjoy in Derry and Strabane this festive season. Whether you’re returning from overseas or based here, we’ve got Christmas wrapped up for you.

To buy

Made Here – You’ll find beautiful creations from some of the district’s most innovative designers in Made Here on Shipquay Street, Derry-Londonderry, including In Chlomo, from Strabane’s Chloe McColgan.

Velveteen Handmade – Rachel Kelly’s beautiful embroideries – from storybook-inspired pictures to appliqued cotton purses – make excellent Christmas gifts. View her pieces at the Craft Village’s Walled City Crafters.

Little Acorns Bookstore – Jenni Doherty’s independent book shop in Derry-Londonderry’s Society Street is a treasure trove of new and old books. You’ll also find local arts and crafts, literary gifts and must-have Derry Girls mugs.

To eat

With Love Recipes – Overindulged this festive season? Strabane woman Sharron McCormick’s range of guilt-free desserts, sauces and more are a delicious, healthier way to continue the celebrations.

Dart Mountain Cheese – Julie and Kevin Hickey’s award-winning range of artisan cheeses are handcrafted in the Sperrins and include the Banagher Bold local ale washed cheese and the creamy, flavoursome Sperrin Blue.

Grainola Goddess granola – Made using upcycled spent grain from the Walled City Brewery, Grainola Goddess’ delectable range includes Bountiful Berry (with dried cranberries, apricots and cherries), Scrumptious Spice, and Gorgeous Gluten Free.

Ukulele Chocolate – This Derry-based chocolate, from husband and wife team Donal and Sinead, is organic, melt-in-the-mouth, and oh so moreish. Even better, it’s made from sustainable, planet-friendly ingredients. Guilt-free chocolate… What’s not to love?

To drink

Foyster – This creamy new oyster stout showcases our native, sought after, Lough Foyle Irish Flat Oyster. A collaboration between the LegenDerry Food and Drink Network’s Walled City Brewery and Sippy Fest, it uses leftover oyster shells to make a delicious, old-style stout with a hint of saltiness.

Quiet Man Irish Whiskey – This award-winning, Derry-Londonderry based craft whiskey is expertly distilled in small batches and the ideal tipple to relax with on a cold winter’s night.

Rough Brothers – This handmade beer is brewed in Derry-Londonderry and the product range includes pale ale and red ale. You can also try its specially created Mekong Street Beer at Mekong Street Food (and a Beer 57, for Pyke ‘N’ Pommes, is also in the pipeline).

To do

Christmas Winterland Markets – Soak up the atmosphere, meet artisan traders selling local arts and crafts, taste seasonal delights and relax over a mulled wine at these markets in Derry-Londonderry’s Guildhall Square. Dec 12th to Dec 15th.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs pantomime – Enjoy the classic fairytale with some modern local twists – and plenty of gags for the grown-ups – at the Millennium Forum from December 4th to 29th.

The Snowman and Other Christmas favourites – Join the Allegri choirs and the recently formed Orchestra North West symphony orchestra as they present The Snowman and a host of Christmas classics. The Guildhall, December 15th.

Far and Wild Adventures – Treat yourself or an adventurous loved one to a moonlight kayak tour, archery, a foodie cycling tour, boom board adventure or urban mountain biking with Derry-Londonderry’s Far and Wild Adventures. Gift vouchers are also available.

Christmas Day dips – Feeling brave? Why not unpeel yourself from the sofa (and get out of Christmas dinner duties) and take part in one of the Christmas Day charity swims taking place on beaches around the North West.

The North West region’s unique strategic cross-border location and pipeline of talent were the key messages to potential US investors during a recent trade mission to Philadelphia and Boston.

A number of focused engagements with industry specialists, foreign direct investment executives and venture capitalists took place during the weeklong Ireland North West trade and investment mission, led jointly by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council to showcase the northwest city region’s compelling investment proposition.

Potential investors heard how they could take advantage of the unique combination of benefits the region has to offer, including an accessible, connected and business-friendly gateway region (with a foothold in both EU and UK markets) and a compelling vision for greater international impact, a talented and educated workforce, superb quality of life and a supportive business environment.

The delegation also met with the Mayors of Philadelphia and Boston who outlined their commitment and support for the work being done by the two Councils.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh spoke about his ties with the North West and outlined his commitment to build on the positive work being done to promote strong communities and shared prosperity, while Philadelphia Mayor Senator Jim Kenney vowed to continue to work to celebrate our connections and build on the existing relationship.

The delegation included Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Michaela Boyle, An Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr Nicholas Crossan, and local businesses from a range of sectors who met with potential clients and business partners.

The trade and investment mission also involved engagement with educational institutions from across the region, and saw the launch of a research project with Harvard Graduate School of Design, exploring how the cross-border northwest city region could be shaped in light of the economic, political and social realities of Brexit.

For more information on the trade mission visit www.irelandNW.com

A local delegation of commercial, educational and local government leaders have attended a seminar in London to discuss the factors shaping business growth as we enter 2020.

The event, hosted by the Mayor of London’s official promotional agency, London & Partners, brought together leaders in financial and professional services and technology to debate how innovation is reshaping the business environment.

Attendees heard from a panel of specialist industry speakers including Danny Corrigan, CEO, ED&F Man Capital Markets CEEMA Ltd Cyprus, John Healy, MD, Allstate NI, and Brendan Bradley, Co-founder, Seismic Foundry.

They addressed a range of business challenges including Future Technologies and Skills, and the Global View, considering the impact of new megatrends in technology and data.

The event is the latest in a series of networking opportunities reflecting the close local links with the City of London.

Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Kelpie, headed up the delegation and said he was confident this close collaboration would continue for years to come.

He added: “We want to get across the message that the NW City Region is open for business with an exceptional offering of skills and talent that is second to none.”

The event pre-empted a special visit to Derry by a group from the City of London, led by newly vested Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman William Russell.

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.