Local Enterprise Office Donegal has launched a new technology accelerator to encourage start-ups in the county. Donegal – SCALE-X  is a programme unlike any other, built by investors for entrepreneurs. Applications are open to businesses anywhere in the world, once they demonstrate a commitment to growing their business from Donegal.

Donegal – SCALE–X is targeted at start-up entrepreneurs with the potential for fast growth in the ICT/Fintech, Health Sciences/Medical and other technology-based industries. The programme will have a particular focus on facilitating potential spin-outs from existing firms in the county and region, and on introducing participants to potential investment funds.

Michael Tunney, Head of Enterprise Donegal, said: “Donegal SCALE-X focuses on giving participants a deep understanding of the metrics that can drive success, along with the skills to build financial models that stand up to investor scrutiny and industry engagement.

The programme will also provide mentorship from leaders in their field, who have already scaled businesses from Donegal – people like Gillian Doyle of Cerebreon – so participants will get valuable insights and advice on ways to adapt their business model as necessary”.

Adding to this, Brenda Hegarty, Assistant Head of Enterprise, said: “Donegal SCALE-X is seeking founders that have a unique insight into their industry, borne out of deep industry expertise or an evident passion for their space, as well as solutions that solve a distinct customer problem.

Ten teams will be selected to join the programme based on the scale of ambition of the founder/s, the potential market size of their chosen field, and, most importantly, the teams that can be helped the most by availing of the programme.

Every application will be reviewed and shortlisted candidates will be interviewed on a rolling basis, so I would encourage anyone interested to get your application in before the deadline of midday on the 24th of May.”

Local Enterprise Office Donegal is working with Journey Partners to implement the Donegal – SCALE – X programme. Journey Partners works with corporates, funding bodies and startups to generate, evaluate and support the development of innovative growth concepts with a focus on early-stage companies to help them reach their first major milestones.

Visit the website to find out more and apply: https://www.localenterprise.ie/Donegal/SCALE-X/

The Derry City and Strabane District Council area has officially become the first Zero Waste City in the UK and Ireland.

The European designation sees the Council area join a network of communities across the continent sharing learning and experiences of reducing waste generation while improving recycling rates and the quality of the resources captured.

The new status comes amid a deepening collaboration with local campaigning group Zero Waste North West, and marks the latest stage of the City and District’s adoption of a Circular Economy/Zero Waste Strategy.

The Strategy aims to keep resources and products in use for as long as possible, extracting maximum value for the local economy, before recovering and regenerating them at the end of their life cycle.

For more on Council’s Waste and Recycling Services visit derrystrabane.com/recycling. Full details on Council’s Circular Economy strategy can be viewed at derrystrabane.com/circulareconomy.

A new ‘Destination Derry’ network has been developed to promote the city and county as a great place to live, work, invest and visit.

The initiative, created by homebuilder Taggart Homes, aims to showcase the real people behind the businesses and brands and to collaborate with the local business community, government agencies, industries, educators and community leaders.

The Destination Derry website includes business information and contact details, a blog section, and Live, Learn, Work and Visit sections.

It will also be promoted on social media channels to a local and international audience.


An exciting programme of online activities and entertainment has been launched for Derry Halloween 2020.

While this year’s event won’t see thousands of revellers flocking to the city as usual, local people at home and abroad are being urged to get involved in the virtual celebrations and keep the spirit of the festival alive.

The digital line-up (available at derryhalloween.com/highlights) includes Little Horrors storytelling, Samhain Sessions gigs, and online tutorials in everything from costume-creating to lantern-making. The North West Carnival Initiative – the team behind the annual parade – will also be working with the local community on a series of activities.

And it wouldn’t be Derry Halloween without fancy dress – so wherever you are in the world, get creative and share your costumes on social media using the hashtag #derryhalloween

Derry City and Strabane District Council has this week launched a range of initiatives designed to support local businesses affected by the challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 emergency. With new regulations that will see the closure of many local businesses coming into force today, Council is encouraging local companies to explore their options in terms of establishing an online presence and adapting to conditions as best they can to continue the delivery of products and services.

As well as a special Business Resilience Programme, a series of remote skills development workshops has been announced to give people the support and information they need. The series will comprise of 8-10 two hour workshops to be delivered remotely via Zoom, which will be open to all members of the business community in the City and District including past and present participants of the Business Boost Programme.

Focus areas include managing stress, gearing up to sell on YouTube, the impact of COVID19 on local business, and good leadership.Companies can also apply for a place on the Business Online Programme, part of the highly successful Business Boost Programme, now open to micro enterprises and SMEs across Derry and Strabane.

The programme will assist local companies in going digital. Keeping in mind the challenges presented by the current restrictions around social distancing in the workplace it’s more important than ever that businesses establish an effective online presence for both staff and customers. This programme will also be delivered remotely and safely, using all modern technologies.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle, urged companies to sign up.

While I welcome these new restrictions on people’s movements, I appreciate that this will have a serious impact on local companies and their ability to do business,” she stressed.”As a Council we are putting in place as many measures as we can to support local businesses at this very difficult time. This new series of workshops will provide the latest information on digital technology and how businesses can take their products and services online and support staff working from home. I would really encourage businesses to find out more about what help is available.

Business Support Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Louise Breslin, said:

“With social distancing being a key factor for everyone – your staff, your customers and your suppliers – it’s vitally important that businesses introduce new ways of working.”These are uncertain times and we want to help businesses adapt in whatever ways they can, and both the workshops and the mentoring opportunities will provide the advice and expertise to help local companies get up and running online as quickly as possible.”

To register, simply contact Jacqui at Full Circle – jacqui@fullcircle.eu.com to express your interest in the workshops. The deadline for submission of expressions of interest is Thursday 9 April @ 12noon.

The Programmes are part-funded by Derry City and Strabane District Council, Invest NI and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Jobs and Growth [2014 – 2020] Programme.Ends​

With local businesses facing uncertain times in the coming weeks and months, Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Business Support Team have been working on a special Resilience Programme to help local companies to continue to grow and develop.With COVID19 already having a significant impact on the business world, the programme includes a series of workshops and mentoring opportunities geared towards equipping businesses with the skills and resolve to adapt to the challenges ahead.The Business Resilience Programme is open initially to 15 local companies and will be delivered remotely and safely, using all modern technologies. This will allow businesses to participate fully, whether working from home or from workplaces.

The Programme is part-funded by Council, Invest NI and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Jobs and Growth [2014 – 2020] Programme.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle, encouraged local companies to avail of the support at this challenging time. “Although there is thankfully some financial support now in place for local businesses, many will still face a very difficult time in terms of continuing with the provision of regular products and services.”There are some ways to mitigate against the impacts and Council aim to help where possible in assisting businesses navigate their way around these challenges. It’s so important that we all work together to protect and sustain the NW economy as best we can, and prioritise the small local companies who may be struggling at this very uncertain time.”

The programme will link companies with one one of Council’s dedicated Business advisors to assess the current positioning of their business as a result of the Covid19 situation. This initial assessment will be followed by four remote workshops; Building personal resilience in tough times; Leading others in crisis situations; Looking after your mental health; Managing time and managing projects.Afer this participants can avail of mentoring support to help apply the key learning points to individual companies.Council’s

Business Development Manager, Louise Breslin, said: “These are unprecedented times and naturally many within the business community are daunted by the prospect of an uncertain future – that includes both the young and the experienced, the struggling and the successful.”We want to help build and encourage the mindset that will be needed to adapt and survive, to consolidate and grow. This will demand emotional resolve, a willingness to think outside the box, and  openness to re-invention, innovation and diversification. We want businesses to build on their resilience, seriously consider the options that are realistically open to them and ultimately make firm decisions about the way forward.”We are here to help in whatever way we can, and I would really encourage local enterprises to find out how they could benefit.”

Eligible businesses must be based in the Derry City and Strabane District Council areas and employ less than 50 people.To register, simply contact Jacqui at Full Circle – jacqui@fullcircle.eu.com to express your interest in the Programme. The deadline for submission of expressions of interest is Thursday April 9 @ 12noon

Gallagher and McKinney Limited has built a new manufacturing facility at Skeoge Industrial Park, and is creating 14 new jobs.

The Derry mechanical engineering and piping firm provides contractor and sub-contractor project management on piping projects, which include the manufacture and installation of steel work support systems.

“We have ambitious plans for the business with a focus on key sectors including pharmaceutical, waste to energy and data centres in both GB and Europe. This investment in both our new facility and new people places Gallagher & McKinney in a strong position to deliver against these plans”  (Seamus Mellon, Managing Director of Gallagher and McKinney)

Pictured (L-R) are Seamus Mellon, Managing Director, Gallagher and McKinney with Bill Montgomery, Director of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, Invest NI.

Welcoming the company’s latest investment, Bill Montgomery, Director of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering said: “The company bought its first one acre site on our Skeoge Industrial Park in 2017, with the option to further expand onto an adjacent three acre site, which it has now done.

“The new manufacturing facility has now been built and includes a new 10,000 ft stainless steel pipe fabrication workshop and a 2-acre laydown area. This will significantly increase the company’s capacity to bring more work in house and secure larger projects to meet the growing needs of clients.”

In addition, the company is expanding its workforce with 14 new jobs. The company is keen to build internal digital expertise with BIM/CAD operatives and junior engineers, along with skilled fitters and welders. It is also committed to investing in its apprentice training scheme with five new apprentices being hired each year.

Seamus Mellon, Managing Director at Gallagher and McKinney said:

“Historically we have worked as a sub-contractor on large piping projects but we have recently acted as principal contractor on substantial projects with Seagate Technology and are now looking to build on this element of our business. Investing in our team is crucial to our strategy to grow our business and bid for larger contracts and we are grateful for Invest NI’s support to recruit and get these positions in place quickly. “We have ambitious plans for the business with a focus on key sectors including pharmaceutical, waste to energy and data centres in both GB and Europe. This investment in both our new facility and new people places Gallagher & McKinney in a strong position to deliver against these plans.” (Seamus Mellon, Managing Director of Gallagher and McKinney)

Northern Ireland’s largest IT company Allstate has opened a state-of-the-art computing lab at Ulster University’s Magee campus, representing a major investment in educational resources for the North West.  

The new lab, based in the university’s School of Computing, Engineering and Intelligent Systems at Magee, is a boost to the core teaching competencies in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Information Technologies, Electronics and Embedded Systems, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and Renewable Energy Engineering.

The lab is an extension of the longstanding partnership between Allstate and Ulster University, which recognises the importance of developing professional and educational links while attracting next-generation IT talent to Allstate.

Professor Liam Maguire, Executive Dean at Ulster University said the new lab “demonstrates a strong commitment to providing professionally relevant education which will help our graduates to secure employment in the highly skilled Computing and Engineering sector”.

He added: “Our School of Computing, Engineering and Intelligent Systems has developed strong industry links in both teaching and research and this lab will enable us to enhance our industrial input across courses and research which make a tangible difference to the Northern Ireland economy.”

O’Neills Irish International Sports Company Ltd are aiming to gain a stronger foothold in the US sportswear market when they travel to Philadelphia and Boston this month as part of a joint trade delegation led by Donegal and Derry/Strabane Councils.

The Strabane-based sportswear specialists are one of seven companies from both sides of the border taking part in the week-long trip to America’s East Coast. The other companies are Humanity Cosmetics, Learning Pool, Brand It Technologies, EKO Chute, MMG Welding and Wild Fuschia Bakery.

Founded in 1918, O’Neills specialise in the design, manufacture, personalisation and supply of performance multi-sportswear including playing kit, training and leisurewear. The company has built its reputation on supplying high-quality Gaelic games kit and has become the choice of champions supplying high profile clubs and grassroots teams in rugby, netball, soccer, hockey and Australian rules, across the globe.

O’Neills employ 750 people at their production facility in Strabane, Co. Tyrone and a further 200 people in Walkinstown, Co. Dublin. The company was part of a trade delegation which travelled to Boston in 2016/2017 when they appointed a sales representative to tap into the US market.

O’Neills already supply a number of GAA clubs in the US and are particularly interested in exploring the US College sportswear market. They are also keen to build on their rugby customer base, particularly in the Philadelphia area. 

Orla Ward, Business Development Manager at O’Neills Irish International Sports Company Ltd explained: “On previous trips to the US we got a better understanding of the market in Boston and developed our very positive relationship with Council.”

She continued: “We are excited at the opportunity to make new connections in Philadelphia and Boston and the prospect of exploring niche markets and opportunities suited to our business. We can offer clubs, schools, colleges and universities in the US market bespoke playing kit, training kit and leisurewear.”

“Our team is constantly innovating, responding to customer demand and improving.  We are committed to sport, community and empowering athletes at all levels to become champions and reach the top of their game.”

O’Neills’ in-house design team works with clubs to ensure their apparel meets club and governing body requirements. Garments are created using the most advanced and durable player-tested fabrics and ranges are fully customised to offer the inclusion of club crest, sponsor logos, and club and player names.

The latest print and embroidery methods, including woven and silicone crests, are available to customers. Technical fabrics are knit in the state-of-the-art knitting facility in Strabane and dyed and finished in the dye house in Walkinstown. 

O’Neills’ 16-acre site at the Dublin Road Industrial Estate in Strabane includes a new 50,000 sq. ft. distribution facility which was opened last year to serve the company’s growing local and global customer base. 

The Trade and Investment Mission will be led by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council. It will include third level and further education providers together with development organisations including Ulster University, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, North West Regional College, Donegal ETB and Catalyst. The trip takes place from 11-15 November and is funded by The Executive Office and the Irish Government. For more information visit www.irelandNW.com and follow the hashtag #IrelandNW19

Strabane based branding and signage technology specialists Brand-It Technologies are taking the first steps towards entering the US Market when they make the trip to Philadelphia and Boston in November as part of a joint trade delegation from the Donegal and Derry / Strabane Councils.

Brand-It Technologies are part of branding and signage umbrella company Visual Edge and are one of seven companies from both sides of the border taking part in the week long trip to the East Coast of the US along with Humanity Cosmetics, Learning Pool, O’Neill’s Sportswear, EKO Chute, MMG Welding and Wild Fuschia Bakery.

They employ a dedicated team of five people in their Dublin Road offices who design, manufacture and supply Fabexx – a range of fabric graphic aluminium profiles, components and accessories while they also offer an easy to apply and unique edge lit Light Guide Panel Film (LGF).

Brand-It Technologies have an extensive client base in the UK and Ireland and are keen to explore if there is a demand for their products and the possibility of business partnerships in the US.

“We would like to meet, discuss and identify companies or individuals with potential business opportunities, joint ventures or partnerships and explore where there may be some synergies,” explained Ian Friel who will represent Brand-It Tech on the delegation.

“We can offer expertise, extensive knowledge and new products to an emerging and growing market for fabric display systems and light boxes.

“We plan to expand and grow our presence in both the national and international market place because we believe we can offer unique and cost effective solutions.”

Brand-it Technologies are currently working on expanding their customer base and the sectors they currently operate in to include exhibition designers and builders, digital printing companies, sign manufacturers, interior designers (primarily commercial but also larger domestic projects), ship fit-out companies and shop fitting companies.

“We have been identifying and engaging with quality potential partners and discussing possible ways to conduct business together to our mutual benefit,” Ian continued.

“Because of our manufacturing and lighting background we can offer practical and technical advice to our customers and we can also offer bespoke solutions for unusual requests/projects.

“The range of fabric profiles is called Fabexx and they have been elegantly and specifically designed to be multi-functional and can be used in different configurations. 

“A fully demountable system that can be flat packed for much easier and lower cost transportation and also easier to build on-site.

“Our Light Guide Panel Film (LGF) is called Corelight and is very easy to apply without the need for any specialist equipment. The LGF allows any supplier the opportunity to create their own bespoke illuminated ultra thin panels from 1/16” up to 1/4” thick.”

The Trade and Investment Mission will be led by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Councils.

It will include third level and further education providers and development organisations including the Ulster University, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, the North West Regional College and Donegal ETB.

The mission takes place from 11-15 November and is funded by The Executive Office and the Irish Government.

For more information on the trade mission visit www.irelandNW.com and follow the hashtag #IrelandNW19.