Ireland North West and City of Boston sign MOU

Civic leaders from the City of Boston and the North West of Ireland sign an MOU

Civic leaders from the City of Boston and the North West of Ireland sign an MOU

Civic leaders from the City of Boston and the North West of Ireland have signed an MOU this week to formalise their economic partnership.

The ‘Boston-Ireland North West Innovation Economic Partnership’ pledges to further develop and expand the existing bilateral relationship between the two regions to create business and job opportunities through joint initiatives in innovation and trade.

The Transatlantic partnership was signed during this week’s visit of a local trade delegation to the Massachusetts city led by the Derry / Strabane and Donegal Councils.

Earlier this week, the Ireland North West delegation, that includes Council CEOs John Kelpie and Seamus Neely and Council officials, visited Philadelphia where a working group agreed to a first ever trade mission from Derry/Strabane and Donegal visiting the city this summer.

The Mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, also met the delegation who spent a full day in Pennsylvania’s largest city exploring opportunities for business and educational partnerships.

The MOU agreement with Boston will initially focus on the fields of entrepreneurship, life sciences and healthcare technology and aims to build upon the successful economic development missions to Boston in recent years.

“I would like to warmly welcome the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding between our two regions,” said Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council at this week’s signing in Central Boston.

“I look forward to seeing the development and implementation of our joint and coordinated initiatives, initially in the areas of Entrepreneurship, Life Sciences and Healthcare Technology.

“Our regions have been closely linked through our diaspora for generations and I am pleased that we have been able to formally strengthen that link with this new partnership that can help accelerate business growth and create new jobs.”

Leas Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Councillor Noel Jordan added:

“This is a hugely positive development that builds on the strong work that has gone on behind the scenes in recent years to strengthen the economic partnership between our regions.

“The joint initiatives committed to today will help expand the growth of our shared industries and strengthen the assets that are key to the North West region’s economy growing and being globally competitive in the future.”

Among the responsibilities of both regions detailed in the memorandum are the sharing of best economic practices to strengthen their mutual abilities to support bilateral trade.

The parties have also agreed to encourage academic research and development collaboration in life sciences and healthcare technology, as well committing to the promotion of economic development and opportunities for small businesses.

Dragon Brand Foods in bid to drive export growth with new investment: Strabane based food manufacturer, Dragon Brand Foods is investing over half a million in jobs, innovation and a new factory with the support of Invest Northern Ireland.

Pictured at the site of the new factory at Strabane Business Park are (L – R) Paul McGuigan, Dragon Brand Foods, and Des Gartland, Invest NI.

Pictured at the site of the new factory at Strabane Business Park are (L – R) Paul McGuigan, Dragon Brand Foods, and Des Gartland, Invest NI.

The company is due to begin construction on its new factory at Strabane Business Park as part of its plans to grow its business. The company is also creating four new roles and is using a Grant for R&D to develop a new range of Free From sauces, dips and condiments for the more health conscious consumer.

Making the announcement, Des Gartland, Invest NI’s North West Regional Manager said:

Dragon Brand Foods is a highly ambitious and export focused business with innovation at its core. The company is using a range of Invest NI support to drive efficiencies which will enhance its competitiveness in the global marketplace. The company’s decision to build a new factory at Strabane Business Park is a significant commitment and has involved a lot of preparatory work. I am pleased we have been able to help the company through this process and I look forward to seeing their plans come to fruition.”

The company’s investment will see it build 7,500 square feet of manufacturing space at Strabane Business Park. Invest NI developed the park to help address the shortage of available industrial land in the district and play an important role in supporting economic development in the local area. “This investment marks the next step in the company’s journey to achieving faster export growth and reaffirms its continuing commitment to the Strabane area. I hope that this announcement will act as a catalyst for further investment into the Strabane area”, continued Des.

Dragon brand Foods is making a total investment of £550,000. Invest NI has offered the company support of £153,563 towards creating four new roles, researching and developing new products and help building food safety protocols to drive growth in the ROI market.

Commenting on the investment, Paul McGuigan, Director of Dragon Brand Foods said:

“Our strategy is to pursue growth through investing in new products and innovation. Invest NI is providing us with invaluable support which is helping to safeguard our future and accelerate the future growth of our business. Building work for our new factory has already commenced and we look forward to growing our workforce to help us deliver valuable new contracts, particularly in the UK and ROI markets.”

Strabane Business Park offers potential tenants over 15 acres of serviced industrial land to help meet their immediate business growth needs.

Niche Drinks secures lucrative South Africa export deal for Quiet Man whiskey.

Pictured in South Africa are Michael Morris sales director, Niche Drinks and Steve Harper, Invest NI executive director of international business. Niche has agreed a new export deal with major wholesaler and retail chain Ultra Liquors

Pictured in South Africa are Michael Morris sales director, Niche Drinks and Steve Harper, Invest NI executive director of international business. Niche has agreed a new export deal with major wholesaler and retail chain Ultra Liquors

DERRY-based whiskey maker Niche Drinks has continued its international expansion by securing a lucrative export contract in South Africa.

The company, which also makes cream liqueurs, flavoured vodkas, ready-to-drink cocktails and microwaveable Irish coffees, will supply its Quiet Man whiskey brand to major wholesaler and retail chain Ultra Liquors in a deal that could be worth a quarter of a million pounds.

The export order, secured with Invest NI trade support, is initially for one container of 1,000 cases, but further are expected. The first foray into the South African market comes just weeks after Niche secured its first Russian orders of The Quiet Man whiskey in a £340,000 deal.

Speaking to the Irish News commercial director of Niche Drinks Michael Morris said Ultra Liquors was the “perfect fit” for the company and said there are high hopes for replenished orders very quickly.

“We’re going into full distribution in their cash and carry network, which is 70 big stores across the country. So that means our secondary distribution could be between two and three hundred outlets, maybe more. The hope would be that in a calendar year we could send four or five containers of whiskey down there.”

The Derry firm believes the deal could be worth at least a quarter of a million pounds a year and if successful may include its cream liquor.

Now in 22 international markets including the UK, US, western Europe and Scandinavia, the Russian and South African deals are part of ambitious plans for growth to see the Quiet Man brand grow into a global brand.

“We’ve got our core distribution in Europe and the US and the domestic markets and now we’re looking at South East Asia and eastern Europe and South Africa as part of phase two growth. In terms of the plans for phase two, getting the Russian deal and now the South African one means we’re well ahead of our forecast.”

Mr Morris also confirmed that initial demolition work has taken place at the former Ebrington Barracks site in Derry- the location for the company’s new whiskey distillery.

The £12 million investment is expected to lead to the creation of 35 jobs at Niche Drinks, which already employs 70 people at its Rossdowney Road site. It is hoped the new site will be open sometime between spring and early summer next year and help the firm reach its lofty goals.

“It will make an enormous difference and will kick us on to a new level. Once we are in production at the distillery it will increase our capacity to rapidly expand.”

“Our expectation is that The Quiet Man from the city of Derry will become an internationally-recognised premium product,” he added.

Dairy firm LacPatrick’s British trade up as Brexit looms.

LacPatrick has just invested £30m in new facilities at its plant in Artigarvan, County Londonderry

LacPatrick has just invested £30m in new facilities at its plant in Artigarvan, County Londonderry

A leading Northern Ireland dairy firm has seen its trade with Britain grow by almost a third as companies there reposition for Brexit.

LacPatrick has just invested £30m in new facilities at its plant in Artigarvan, County Tyrone. It said big name food firms based in Britain had begun to source ingredients from it. Businesses involved in the manufacture of chocolate, biscuits and sauces have all been in touch. All are large consumers of dairy powder ingredients.

Previously, they would have imported them from EU countries including the Republic of Ireland.
LacPatrick chief executive Gabriel D’Arcy said a bid to manage risk around tariffs post-Brexit was prompting UK firms to look at sourcing dairy produce from UK manufacturers. LacPatrick has traditionally sent milk powder from its Artigarvan plant to markets in west Africa and the Middle East.

That is currently done under EU trade agreements with those countries. Mr D’Arcy acknowledged there was a risk that his firm could lose access to those markets if the agreements could not be replicated by the UK after Brexit.
But he said he hoped that any transitional arrangements agreed with the EU would include trade deals.
In any event, he said, he was confident that there was a ready market in Great Britain for Northern Ireland dairy products.

“If it comes to it, we have an outlet for every single molecule of the milk we produce and process within the GB and UK markets,” he said. LacPatrick collects 500 million litres of milk in Northern Ireland a year.

The £30m investment in new drying facilities at Artigarvan means it can now process all of that locally without the need to send NI milk to its plants across the border for treatment. That reduces concerns around tariffs and other non tariff barriers post brexit. The company says it is the biggest investment by a dairy company on a single site in a generation.

In coming days they’re inviting the 700 farmers who supply them and some of their international customers to tour the plant, which employs 70 staff. The new equipment will allow it to produce new products such as long life ingredients for vending machines in Japan and a “just add water” powder which is used to make instant liquid milk and is popular in the Middle East.

The Quiet Man Irish Whiskey Expands To New Markets.

Quietman Irish Whiskey

Quietman Irish Whiskey

Niche Drinks in Northern Ireland has won business in Russia worth £340,000 for its Irish whiskey, The Quiet Man, as well its Irish cream liqueurs.

Based in Derry, Niche Drinks is building a new distillery for whiskey and other spirits on a site near the city, once home to Ireland’s largest whiskey business.

The new distillery is expected to begin producing spirit in mid 2018. It will be the first distillery in Derry for more than a century.

The Quiet Man company, owned and run by Ciaran Mulgrew, the managing director of Niche Drinks, has been selling whiskey for over a year and currently exports to around 40 markets worldwide including the US where the whiskey is distributed by Luxco, a marketing business which owns the Saint Brendan’s Irish Cream Liqueur brand that is produced at Niche Drinks in Derry.

Robin Young, finance director and company secretary of Niche Drinks, commenting on the latest exports, says: “We are very happy with our success to date. Our long term growth plans are progressing well and we continue to focus on building our export sales, particularly in the U.S and Europe markets.

“We recently secured our first Russian orders for our Quiet Man Irish Whiskey and both Causeway Coast and Shannon’s Irish Cream Liqueurs as a result of a visit to Russia at the beginning of this year and we continue to build distribution in the market there.”

The Quiet Man has won a series of international awards for its single malts and premium blend.

The new state–of–the–art distillery will feature a purpose–built visitors’ centre on the site, which is located at Ebrington Square on the outskirts of Derry city. It will shortly begin installation of two pot stills and is among a new generation of whiskey producers emerging across Ireland.

Northern Ireland currently has two whiskey distilleries – Old Bushmills in county Antrim and Echlinville in county Down. A further three are in the pipeline as the rebirth of the Irish whiskey gathers momentum.

In this edition you will find interesting articles about what is happening in Derry City and Strabane District, bios of Derry Londonderry Dispora, human interest stories about Derry Strabane connections, a snapshot of jobs & key employers recruiting in the area, plus lots more.

September 2017 Issue

Read Derry ~ Strabane Global – Connecting With Our Diaspora


12 new jobs being created by Eglinton manufacturer Carella Laminate Systems.

Invest NI’s North West Regional Manager, Des Gartland (left) is pictured with Seamus Heron, Carella Laminate Systems.

Invest NI’s North West Regional Manager, Des Gartland (left) is pictured with Seamus Heron, Carella Laminate Systems.

Carella Laminate Systems is expanding its workforce in Londonderry to help secure new business in the interior fit-out markets across Great Britain and Republic of Ireland.

With support from Invest Northern Ireland, the manufacturer is recruiting 12 additional staff by 2019 and investing in all areas of the business including sales, production, management and service. The company has also expanded its facilities, recently developing bespoke premises in Campsie Industrial Estate.

Speaking about the plans, Managing Director Seamus Heron said: “We have seen a recent uplift in projects secured across Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland and want to continue to grow our market share, driving sales of our worktops and contract interior fit-out solutions. The bespoke site we developed at Campsie and our new machinery has enhanced our production capacity and improved the efficiency of our operations.
“The 12 additional staff we are recruiting with help from Invest NI will support the anticipated growth in workload. It will also give us the necessary capability within the team to tender for new higher value projects in our target markets.”

Carella Laminate Systems provides interior fit-out solutions for customers in the health, education and leisure sectors and also manufactures and supplies worktops and bonded boards for the kitchen and bedroom market.

Welcoming the investment, Bill Montgomery, Invest NI Director of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering said: “Carella has an ambitious strategy to grow sales in Great Britain by 70 per cent over the next three years and is focused on positioning itself to achieve this objective.

Invest NI’s support has already enabled the company to undertake research visits in its target markets, in a bid to establish new customer relationships. The £90,000 offered towards the 12 new jobs will ensure Carella has the resources its needs to avail of its identified business opportunities. The new roles will be recruited over the next two years and once in place will contribute £407,000 in additional salaries to the local economy.”

The international dairy co-operative, LacPatrick, has secured over £1m of sales of its LP spray dried whole milk and skimmed milk powder in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), following participation at Gulfood in February 2017.

Steve Harper, Invest NI (right) is pictured with Enda Gallen, LacPatrick

Steve Harper, Invest NI (right) is pictured with Enda Gallen, LacPatrick

Welcoming the deals, Steve Harper, Invest Northern Ireland’s Executive Director of International Business said: “LacPatrick has used Invest NI support to make impressive strides in securing this new export business in the UAE. As well as exhibiting on the NI stand at this major food event, the company has worked with our in-market team for a number of years to help identify new trade opportunities.

“Our participation in events such as Gulfood reflects our strategic focus to assist companies to grasp the opportunities that are clearly available in international markets to achieve faster, more profitable and sustainable growth.“LacPatrick is one of several Northern Ireland companies who have had great success in the region, including Antrim Hills and White’s Oats.”

LacPatrick is one of Northern Ireland’s major manufacturing employers, employing over 300 staff across its Ballyrashane, Artigarvan and Monaghan sites. Enda Gallen, International Sales Manager for LacPatrick said: “The UAE is a very important market for our business and we are delighted with our progress to date.

“Relationships are a very important part of the Middle East culture and participating at Gulfood was an excellent opportunity to nurture existing relationships and meet with potential new customers. We had been working on an number of deals in the weeks leading up to Gulfood and being able to meet face to face with customers allowed us to get the deals successfully over the line. Invest NI’s support in facilitating and helping to set up these meetings was extremely beneficial.

“Securing new customers is a very important development for our business and has opened new avenues with which to sell our product ranges, particularly the high quality milk powders which are produced at our new state-of-the-art dairy technology centre in Artigarvan. We have also been able to secure significant further orders with existing customers, which is an excellent development and something we will continue to build on.”

Boston Trade Mission Success

Franz Schlindwein celebrates Boston Trade Mission Success

Qubizm squares up to Boston market: Local businesses hoping to break into the US market are being encouraged to sign up for a special trade mission to Boston Massachusetts, which is being led by Derry City and Strabane District Council working in partnership with Donegal County Council.

The 2017 Trade and Investment Mission, November 14th-17th, will focus on promoting the North West region as an attractive investment proposition for global companies. The trip builds on strong links established over the years as part of an ongoing programme of activities included in Ireland Northwest’s Gateway to Growth Initiative.

Several local companies are already reaping the rewards from previous trade missions – among them Qubizm, a unique company which is hoping to transform the landscape of traditional education with an innovative and engaging new approach to Maths. Qubizm creates specialized learning tools aimed at improving teaching standards and reviving interest in the subject for primary and secondary school children.

Local innovator and educationalist Franz Schlindwein heads up the company, which is now also making positive inroads into the education sector in Boston, Mass. Having travelled with the delegation last year, Franz will be travelling back to Boston next month to follow up on a series of networking opportunities generated from last year’s trip, and is confident that other companies can enjoy similar benefits. He explained more about the company’s groundbreaking work, and why Qubizm is the ideal company to break into overseas markets.

“International Research in the form of the TIMSS Report 2015, shows that 43% of children here are not confident in Maths by the time they reach the age of 13,” he explained. “Up until age 9, that percentage is only 19% – this downturn is a reality and Boston College did the research. The downturn creates major problems for children entering the transition process between Primary and Secondary school phase and we can offer unparalleled support in this area.

“We didn’t want to enter the US market until we knew our product was right, so we’ve been refining the system to the point where we now have the endorsement of the universities, validation from the Inspectorate and Education Authority and published research completed by QUB and Trinity College. Now we have something that is proven to work, we are confident in sharing it with the American market.

“In the US there is significant underperformance in Maths, which varies state by state, but in general, attainment levels are much lower than here. The TIMSS Report also shows NI to have the highest performance levels in Maths of any English speaking country in the world.

“Teachers here embrace Izak9 and 40% of schools have already adopted our system for a variety of uses so the response has been extremely positive.”

Qubizm’s first learning tool Izak9, has been going down a storm in schools across Ireland and the UK, where the colourful cube based system, which is supported by engaging online learning resources, has been bringing teachers and pupils together in developing exciting new strategies for tackling traditional Maths problems.

“When we took our system to Boston, children in the Boys and Girls clubs had the chance to try out the cubes and for example the pupils and teachers at Newman College – which is Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s former school – use them already.

“While there we had several initial meetings with a variety of organisations both in the private and education sectors, and the next step is now for us to capitalize on that experience by travelling out there in June. We’ve had fantastic support since the trade mission, both from Council and from Invest NI, who assisted in setting up meetings with the appropriate points of contact for our company.

“It’s also been a great help having a contact on the ground over there, with business consultant Pat Bench setting up meetings for us with the Mayor’s Department, Boston Public Schools etc.”

Franz Schlindwein  from Qubizm celebrates Boston Trade Mission Success

Franz Schlindwein from Qubizm celebrates Boston Trade Mission Success

The future is certainly bright for the company which is currently working closely with local education authorities while keeping their sights set on the lucrative US and Asian markets.
“We have lots of plans in the offing at the moment,” Franz reveals. “As well as our trip back to Boston, where we hope to make further inroads in the market there, we also have plans to translate our system into Mandarin and are in channel partner discussions with a company in the Middle East.

“We are supporting the Attainment Challenge initiative in Scotland where they are seeking to achieve equity in education, as disadvantaged children are greatly affected by the massive socio-economic divide over there. It’s become a major priority for the Scottish government to bridge this gap and they are investing heavily in finding ways to improve attainment levels in Maths. We’re working with 50 schools in Scotland already, and we are also initiating a research project with the Welsh Education Authority in September.

“I would really recommend the trade mission to Boston in terms of the support that is offered to anyone unsure of how to establish those first important links. The follow up support is excellent. Of course it does require effort on the part of the company in keeping the momentum going after the trip, but the rewards are definitely there for those who are committed to pursuing their goal of breaking into the US market.”

Places are available for 12 companies from Derry and Strabane with similar aspirations to gain access to key economic and government decision-makers in Boston. Burgeoning enterprises can develop in-market networks and in-market intelligence though business-to-business meetings with potential partners, agents and customers, as well as gain valuable first hand insight into the US market. The deadline for submissions is 9th June 2017.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the 2017 Trade and Investment Mission to Boston should contact: Rosalind Young/Adam Goodall at Derry City and Strabane District Council 00353749160735

Apply now for the 2017 Mission at
Further information on Izak9 can be found on