Learning Pool has agreed to a new investment from Marlin Equity Partners which will support the e-learning company’s continued growth and create 100 new jobs.

Founded in Derry and currently ranked as one of the top 60 Large Best Companies to Work for in the UK, Learning Pool employs more than 260 people across the UK and US.

The Marlin investment will facilitate further job creation, with plans in place to hire an additional 100 Learning Pool employees across the group this year. 

As part of the investment, Marlin will acquire the shareholding of Carlyle Cardinal Ireland, who invested in Learning Pool in 2016. Since then, Learning Pool has seen revenue increase four-fold and made four acquisitions, most recently acquiring US-based Remote Learner. Marlin is expected to help accelerate growth both organically and through additional acquisitions.

Learning Pool Team with Marlin Equity Partners

A virtual event promoting the North West as a great place to learn, work and visit will be held on the eve of St Patrick’s Day.

The Destination Derry initiative is holding a free evening of celebrations to connect Derry diaspora from all over the world with their hometown on March 16.

The event will include entertainment from Ulster University students, conversations with people who have chosen Derry as the location for their business or place of work, and a photo and video exhibition of previous St Patrick’s Day events in the city.

There will also be the opportunity to network with others worldwide in breakout Zoom rooms, and Foyle Search and Rescue will share how people can help them in their vital work.

Destination Derry was created by homebuilder Taggart Homes and its website (www.destinationderry.com) includes business support information, a blog, and Live, Learn, Work and Visit sections.

Tickets for the free St Patrick’s event can be booked at https://buytickets.at/destinationderry

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.”

A transatlantic conference hosted virtually in Derry’s Guildhall has attracted a record number of global participants.

The 12th Golden Bridges Conference and Awards ceremony saw political leaders, business and community representatives and education providers from the North West and Boston share their experiences of dealing with the COVID pandemic and preparing for Brexit.

The conference saw more than 500 registrations from all over the world and its influential delegates and speakers included Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Charlie McConalogue, and Seagate CEO Dave Mosley.

The challenge faced by the Ireland NW region in dealing with the pandemic was a predominate feature of the conference, with inputs and views from various community, cultural and commercial sector representatives from both sides of the Atlantic.

The annual Golden Bridges conference, usually held in Boston, aims to promote partnerships between Ireland Northwest and Boston, Massachusetts and highlight various community, business, and education initiatives in the two regions by bringing together influential business and political leaders.

You can watch the event back at www.aisling-events.com

FinTrU has been named in this year’s Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 as the 42nd fastest-growing company across the whole of the UK. The league table features the UK’s 100 private companies with the fastest growth over the last three years.

FinTrU Founder & CEO, Darragh McCarthy, said “This is a fantastic achievement and something that all our employees should be immensely proud of. Each and every member of the team has played a crucial role in FinTrU’s success so far and this national recognition is testament to their hard work and dedication during their FinTrU careers.”

The league table ranks businesses across the whole of the UK and FinTrU is the only company from Northern Ireland featured in the list.

FinTrU Chief of Staff, Katrien Roppe, also added “We are delighted that FinTrU has received this accolade. This is not only recognition for this year but for the past number of years in FinTrU’s short history. During this time, our employees have excelled professionally and demonstrated ambition with humility, whilst our company has undergone rapid growth. We recently opened our first US premises in New York, which demonstrates our commitment to expand our global footprint.”

Despite the pandemic, FinTrU has proven to very resilient during 2020 with a growth rate of 75% driven by operational excellence. The company has secured eight new client contracts and two additional Tier 1 Investment Bank clients during this period.

About FinTrU

Founded in December 2013, FinTrU is a multi-award winning RegTech company in the Financial Services sector that is committed to giving local talent the opportunity to work on the global stage with the largest International Investment Banks. FinTrU works with Tier 1 Investment Bank clients to find solutions to help them meet with their regulations in areas such as; Legal, Risk, Compliance, KYC, Operations, Consultancy and Technology. FinTrU employs over 700 people across Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, London and New York.

The head of Allstate NI has paid tribute to hundreds of staff in the North West for helping ensure the firm’s continued success during the Covid-19 crisis. 

The business, which is now Northern Ireland’s largest IT firm, was established in 1998 to provide high quality software development services and business solutions in support of its US-based parent company, the Allstate Corporation. It employs 900 people in its Derry and Strabane offices, and a further 1500 staff in Belfast. Allstate took the decision to move all 2400 staff to virtual working in mid-March, as the global pandemic loomed. Since then, the company said it has managed to maintain productivity levels and a steady order book – an achievement managing director John Healy attributes to the talent, skills and connectivity found in the North West, and Northern Ireland in general. 

“I’m hugely proud of how the workforce has responded to this. We’ve managed to get all our resources home, and maintained high levels of productivity. As I talk to the leaders back in the US, they are incredibly happy with what we’ve managed to achieve here,” the Derry native said. “We already have a culture within the business of people working from home; we have the infrastructure to allow that to happen, and we periodically test it. But whenever you’re doing it for real, to watch how people respond, now for over 11 weeks, it’s just been amazing.” Staff from the Derry and Strabane sites were “incredibly busy” as Covid-19 unfolded, with part of Allstate’s technology helpdesk functionality run in these locations. “During the initial weeks of the crisis, those teams in the North West helped our colleagues right around the globe to move quickly and safely to working from home,” added Mr Healy. “The volumes have now come back down to normal levels, but definitely they were key to the success of the corporation as a whole as we all move to new ways of working.” 

As a major centre for innovative software development, covering the full lifecycle from design to maintenance and support, the local wealth of talent and experience was a huge draw for Allstate. Asked what message he would give to other investors who are considering the North West as a location, Mr Healy said: “The initial set-up of Allstate in the North West was around getting access to a deep talent pool, not just in Derry and Strabane, but also from hinterland such as Donegal. “What we’ve managed to achieve over the years that we’ve operated out of the North West shows that decision was absolutely spot on. These are really talented individuals who are making a great contribution to the success of all of our businesses. “And the innovation, the resilience, the ingenuity of the people who are making it work, from home, in recent weeks has been great.” 

Mr Healy predicted longer term changes to working practices for many businesses, including Allstate NI. “We’ll still have the office and we’ll still have people who are calling in to work with colleagues and interact with others, but I think it will definitely change our perception around how much we need to be in the office and how that space is used,” he said. “Whenever you’re working in a hi-tech environment like ours, as long as you’ve got your laptop and a connection to the internet, you’re able to connect onto the Allstate infrastructure and do your job from wherever you find yourself.” The broadband infrastructure in employees’ homes has been holding up “incredibly well”, Mr Healy added. “We’ve had very few issues with connectivity for our employees when they’ve been working from home. “It’s fantastic that we can have everybody at home, safe and secure, at a time of crisis.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Brian Tierney, praised Allstate NI’s teams in Derry and Strabane for their resilience and innovation during the Covid 19 crisis. “The global outbreak of Covid 19 created unprecedented challenges to Allstate and how they provide their software solutions and services,” he noted. “The team in Derry and Strabane displayed resilience and innovation in quickly moving to remote working and a virtual office space to ensure their client’s services continued as normal. “Allstate are a shining example to other prospective investors of the talent pool that exists in this region who can meet the needs of global companies and rise to the challenges posed during periods of uncertainty.” 


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.

Alchemy Technology Services has announced their partnership with Silicon Valley software company Guidewire PartnerConnect as a consulting alliance member at the Select level.

The Derry~Londonderry based firm has made the announcement just under a year after its official launch in the city last September. Since then, Alchemy has employed 62 full time permanent staff against its three year target of 250+ staff to work on insurance software implementation projects across Europe.

 “We are pleased to join Guidewire PartnerConnect as a Consulting partner, especially given that our focus on collaboration and investing in our people aligns us both culturally and operationally with Guidewire,” said John Harkin, the company’s CEO and Founder. “This is a great acknowledgement of the work we have done over the past year and to be in partnership with an industry leader such as Guidewire confirms that we are moving in the right direction. We look forward to working with Guidewire and helping to ensure that insurers’ digitization projects are delivered with the expertise needed globally.”

“We welcome Alchemy Technology Services as a Guidewire alliance member,” said Lisa Walsh, vice president of Global Alliances at Guidewire Software. “We are pleased to work with a company whose values are consistent with our own, and we are excited to expand our relationship with them.”

Alchemy Technologies provides talent and resources to support insurers in their efforts to modernize and grow their technology platforms. Alchemy’s near-shore resourcing allows for quick and efficient deployment of services to insurers across Europe. Backing from Invest NI and the Department for the Economy supports the company’s intensive training plans enabling them to provide fully certified consultants.

Guidewire PartnerConnect’s consulting partners provide consulting services in areas such as business transformation and strategy and implementation, as well as in related delivery services. It is a subsidiary of Guidewire Software, who provides software, services, and partners ecosystem to enable customers to run, differentiate, and grow their business, serving more than 350 companies in 40 countries.

MULTI-award winning technology giant Allstate is in negotiations to move into a new purpose-built 850-seat flagship office block in Derry, the Irish News can reveal.

The company, one of Northern Ireland’s first major IT inward investors, is understood to have identified a site at Ebrington, and expects the building to be open within two to three years.

The ambitious move will consolidate its operations in the north west, where it already employs around 800 staff at sites in Derry’s Northland Road and in Strabane.

The existing city office is likely to close under the new arrangement, but the Strabane facility will be retained, and it is thought a significant number of new jobs will be added to its current 2,100-strong payroll.

The company would not reveal exact details of the relocation when contacted by the Irish News given the early stages of its vision.

But a spokesman confirmed that “our real estate team in the US is currently in talks with developers” about creating the new Derry hub.

Allstate is already running at maximum capacity in Derry, and such is the speed of its organic growth that is it having to hire 100 seats at the Catalyst science park building in the city just to alleviate its current capacity problem.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of the Allstate Corporation, the largest publicly owned property and casualty insurance company in the US, Allstate has been a significant part of the business landscape in Northern Ireland for 20 years.

And its latest expansion will be seen as demonstrating confidence in the region’s highly educated workforce, competitive cost base and its research and development capability.

The Derry facility will be a slightly smaller scale version of the new 140,000 sq ft headquarters building which Allstate opened at Mays Meadow in Belfast last June as part of a £30 million investment.

That building, located between Central Station and the River Lagan, was completed in just two years. It spans six floors and includes large sociable working spaces, break-out areas, outdoor terrace and high-tech software development labs.

The project also involved extensive refurbishment of the tow path, adjacent boat marina and a restaurant unit at ground level.

At the time, Allstate NI’s managing director John Healy described the office as “a truly ground-breaking facility – an inspirational working space fit for a world-class technology organisation with a commitment to innovation, imagination and building digital technology of the future.”

The company first dipped its toe into the Northern Ireland market in 1999 as Northbrook Technology before rebranding to Allstate in 2008.

Throughout its history the company has consistently reinvested to become one of the biggest employers of tech talent in the north.

Total financial assistance offered by Invest NI to Allstate over the past 20 years is £27.2 million.

At the opening of its Belfast headquarters last year, Secretary of State Karen Bradley said: “Allstate has been instrumental in showing that, with ambition and vision, a company can grow its workforce tenfold.

“Not only have they created one of Northern Ireland’s first major IT inward investors, but they have tapped into the wealth of talent that the local workforce provides to overseas investors, providing high-quality jobs across Belfast and the north west.

“By continually investing in their staff, and their research and development into IT excellence, the Northern Ireland team are at the forefront of digital innovation. I thank them for the pivotal role they play in developing a Northern Ireland economy fit for the future.”

Ireland North West drinks companies In Good Spirits for Philadelphia showcase:

Two North West companies are travelling to Philadelphia this week to take part in a prestigious Irish American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) Craft Drinks event.  

Locally based Baronscourt Brewing Company, and  The Muff Liquor Company from Donegal, will showcase their produce, connect with drinks distributors and business leaders with a view to expanding their networks into the Greater Philadelphia region.

The companies will travel along with representatives from Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal Local Enterprise Office, to participate in the prestigious “In Good Spirits” event, following an invitation from the Chamber of Commerce in Philadelphia

The event is part of the strategic Ireland Northwest initiative between Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council and their partners to develop in-market support for local companies to help them build relationships to support the development of export opportunities.

The Councils have been working closely with the IACC and Pennsylvania Dept. of Community & Economic Development to promote the North West region and are delighted that Baronscourt and Muff Liquor can avail of the unique opportunity to further develop their exports into the US market.

The two local companies will be joined by Teeling Whiskey, Drioglann Local Measc Distillery, as well as distillers from Philadelphia.

The “In Good Spirits” event will feature a panel discussion and question and answer session moderated by Terese Waldron, Director of Graduate Food Marketing Program at Saint Joseph’s University. There will be drinks experts from  Pennsylvania and Irish industry taking part including, Eve-Anne McCarron, Donegal Local Enterprise Office, responsible for The Food Coast Initiative); John Teeling of Teeling Whiskey; Andrew Auwerda, President & Co-Founder of Philadelphia Distilling and John Cooper, Co-Founder of Mountain Laurel Spirits (Dad’s Hat Rye).

The panel discussion will be followed by a tasting session featuring Teeling WhiskeyBaronscourt Brewing Co.The Muff Liquor CompanyLough Mask DistilleryPowers Irish WhiskeyDad’s Hat Rye Whiskey, and Manatawny Still Works. The participants will get an opportunity to pitch their products and meet with industry experts who will assist the companies seeking market entry and develop local partnerships.

Welcoming Derry City and Strabane District Council’s participation in the event, Director of Business Stephen Gillespie said the visit is part of the Ireland Northwest’s strategic objectives, aimed at assisting local companies to internationalise their business, increase their business connections and exports.

A key element of this visit is that it aligns with the objectives set out in the recently launched Council food and drink strategy.  

“This is a great opportunity for Baronscourt Brewing Co. and Muff Liquor Company to showcase their products and further develop their links with drink distributors in the US. It’s a huge privilege for us to be invited to take part in this prestigious event and to be given a platform to promote the North West region as a food and drink destination. The event will be attended by a range of influencers in the drinks sector and our participation at this showcase is testament to the ongoing relationship we have developed with Philadelphia during our trade investment visits,” he said.

Michael Tunney, Head of Enterprise with the Donegal Local Enterprise Office noted how this visit supports the wider efforts which they have been focused on through the Food Coast initiative and enterprise development goals. 

He said: “The Local Enterprise Office in Donegal has been leading out on The Food Coast iniaitiative project for over eight years now and before that we had the 315 Foods regional project covering counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Cavan. Our ultimate objective is to grow the number and the sustainability of artisan and added –value food manufacturers in Donegal.  To achieve this we have had to work with food businesses from across the sectors, from primary producers to manufacturers, food service firms to chefs and restaurants, as well as all the regional stakeholders”

“Over this period we have also worked with Derry City & Strabane District Council on a European food project. This event in Philadelphia is yet another opportunity for food and drinks firms from the northwest to raise the profile and awareness of what is happing with food in the region and we look forward to further opportunities being developed for our local firms through this engagement. “

Alanna M. Barry McCloskey, Business Manager and Marketing Coordinator with the Irish American Business Chamber and Network said: “On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Irish American Business Chamber & Network, we are thrilled to welcome a delegation of Irish craft distillers and brewers and representatives from Derry City and Strabane and Donegal County Councils. Our visiting companies will meet with various Chamber members, local business leaders, and government representatives with the goal of expanding their networks and expanding into the Greater Philadelphia region.

“We are very much looking forward to introducing our visiting companies to the Irish Chamber membership at a special event, In Good Spirits: The Rise of Craft Distilling and Brewing in Pennsylvania and Ireland. This panel discussion and tasting session will feature both Irish and Pennsylvania companies and highlight the parallel track of the craft industries in Pennsylvania and Ireland.

“Throughout the Chamber’s 20 year history, we have welcomed delegations of Irish companies and government representatives to the Philadelphia Region. We actively work to promote the Island of Ireland in the Philadelphia region and conversely, highlight Philadelphia as a destination for Irish businesses, trade and investment.”

The delegation will depart to Philadelphia on Wednesday 15th May.

Further trade missions are scheduled to take place to both Boston and Philadlephia in November when both Councils will be supporting a range of local companies to assess their readiness to export and gear up to target and explore new business opportunities in export markets.