A delegation from Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has visited the city and district to identify potentiation cooperation between the two regions in enterprise, education and policy exchange.

Outgoing Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr John Boyle welcomed the group, which was led by Vice-Governor Bao Gang and the Chinese Consul General Mme Zhang.

The Mayor said it was a huge privilege to meet the representatives and expand on the strong working relationship between the Council and China.

He added: “Derry City and Strabane District Council has an existing agreement with Dalian, Liaoning Province and today’s meeting was a fantastic opportunity to further develop and promote the economic benefit and cooperation with the North East of China.”


Two local brewing companies who travelled to the United States to meet key industry influencers have hailed the trip as a huge success.

Baronscourt Brewing Company and The Muff Liquor Company attended Philadelphia’s In Good Spirits craft drinks event in May to showcase their award-winning products, and highlight the quality of the North West’s food and drink offering.

They also gained an insight into the American beverage industry, and received advice on how to bring their products to market in the United States.

John Wauchob of Baronscourt Brewing Company and Niall McColgan from the Muff Liquor Company were part of an Ireland Northwest delegation with Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council.

Niall said the visit helped explain how to enter the market in terms of financial support, insurance and legal considerations and branding.

He added: “Irish spirits are very much on trend now and this was a great opportunity for us to put our products in front of a new market.”

Further trade missions are scheduled to Boston and Philadelphia 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.


A high-level delegation of London-based Chinese business and media groups met with the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council and city stakeholders during a visit to Derry this week, to build on the strong working relationship that exists between the City and District and China.

The visit, led by the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Belfast, Mme Meifang Zhang, included a briefing by the Council Chief Executive John Kelpie, a tour of the Guildhall and a walk on the historic City Walls. Delegates were invited to a business networking dinner event that was attended by representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, Visit Derry and other key business, education and tourism stakeholders.

The visit is part of a three-day programme of engagements in NI coordinated by The Executive Office in conjunction with NI Chinese Consulate, Councils, UU, QUB and key government agencies.

Welcoming the delegation to the City and District, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Michaela Boyle, said it was a huge privilege to meet with the group and to further develop the strong working relationship between the Council and China. The Council is delighted to be working with the Chamber and Visit Derry to maximise the opportunity for our local businesses to connect with such a significant delegation.

She said: “Derry City and Strabane District Council has an existing agreement with Dalian, Liaoning Province and today’s meeting was a fantastic opportunity to further develop and promote the economic benefit and cooperation with the North East of China.

“As a region we have many shared interests with China, particularly in terms of tourism, business, technology and education, which has resulted in a Friendly Co-operative City Agreement which Council signed last year to formally acknowledge this strong working relationship.

“Links with China and the East are hugely important in assisting us expand our business, tourism and education connections, in tandem with the ongoing work to develop partnerships in the US. These international networks will be pivotal in raising the profile of the region in keeping with the ambitions set out in our Strategic Growth Plan, and encourage foreign direct investment interest in our vibrant and dynamic region.”

She said today’s meeting was significantly important in building on the very strong working relationship that exists between the city and district and China. She said she was very impressed with the calibre of delegates and the wide range of representatives from across the business and media sector in attendance.

She added: “It was a huge honour for us to host this delegation and build on the ongoing collaborations we have with China and the work we are doing with Dalian City. These type of engagements are hugely important to yield new opportunities for trade and investment and in developing global business and education connections.”

A new wave of learning is emerging at North West Regional College (NWRC).

Post A-Level students, students who have undertaken Level 3 qualifications, and those currently in employment looking to upskill into a new role, are being given the opportunity to take part in a major employment initiative in the North West that allows them to jointly study and work in paid employment in their chosen profession as part of the Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA) programme.

NWRC offers HLA courses in Accountancy; Software Development, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, International Hospitality and Tourism Management, Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Leadership for Children’s Care, Learning and Development.

The courses are all funded by the Department for the Economy so students never have to worry about tuition fees, in fact the HLA is a unique work based programme that enables participants to earn while they learn, while gaining a recognised Level 5 qualification.

22 year-old Catherine McCay, a graduate of History and Anthropology is now studying for the HLA in Accountancy after returning home from England to find she couldn’t find any work relating to her Degree.

She said: ‘’I met Christine Hutton and Claire McLaughlin from NWRC at the Jobs and Benefits office and they advised me to apply for a HLA in Accounting because most people who studied history tended to gravitate towards it.’’

‘’I’m really enjoying my time at the college and although it can be difficult sometimes to balance my studies with my job at North West Mechanical Services, the lecturers have all been really helpful and my work colleagues have been very understanding as well.

‘’By the end of my HLA course I’d like to become a member of Accounting Technicians Ireland (ATI) and achieve an accreditation. I’d also like to further my studies and hopefully forge a career as a forensic accountant.

She added: ‘’I would definitely recommend people to choose the HLA route because I have a job now and I didn’t have that before I enrolled on the scheme.

‘’The Higher Level Apprenticeship is also free and it provides people with on the job training. They’re also paid by their employer to come and study at the college so there’s no reason why people shouldn’t look into pursuing an apprenticeship.

‘’I’m a prime example of someone who went to university, studied for three years, got a degree but still couldn’t get a job.”

19-year-old Alex Fenton is studying for a Higher Level Apprenticeship in Civil Engineering at North West Regional College, while working for Farran’s Construction.

He said: ‘’I’m glad I chose to study here because I really enjoy my Civil Engineering Apprenticeship and my lecturers are always really helpful especially If I don’t understand how to do something. My classmates are also really friendly and I get on well with all of them.

‘’I would really recommend people to choose the Higher Level Apprenticeship route especially if they’re interested in Civil Engineering because I’m able to earn while I learn and receive a higher level qualification accredited by Ulster University.

‘’I also have no financial debt because it’s funded by the Department for Economy and I have more hands on experience than most people at university.’’

Sarah Gillespie is a fully trained pharmacist who gave up her day job to study the Software Development HLA at NWRC and went on to win the Department for the Economy’s Apprentice of the Year Award.

Sarah is completing her Apprenticeship with local employer Fujitsu. She explained: “I left school to study Pharmacy but after a few years of locum work around the country I felt that I wanted a change. I took a job working in a lab to give me time to consider my options and it was while working here that I heard about I.T. Apprenticeship opportunities with NWRC and Fujitsu. I completed my level 3 Apprenticeship and I’ve been able to move into a P/T foundation degree in Software Engineering which I will complete in 2020.

“I work in Fujitsu’s Shared Services team which helps resolve technical issues on behalf of customers across the business. Together with colleagues, I investigate user error reports and create solutions.  It’s a diverse role which involves a lot of creative thinking and problem solving.

‘’I will complete my HLA next year. I wouldn’t put anyone off going to university if that’s what they wanted to do but I think the HLA in Software Development accredited by Ulster University is a brilliant opportunity for those interesting in pursuing a career in IT. The HLA allows me to earn as I learn and I’m more experienced than someone coming out of university.’’

Christine Hutton, Skills Development Officer with NWRC said: “Many young people are now considering the Apprenticeship path as an alternative to the more expensive option moving away from home to undertake a Degree.

“HLA programmes offer employers an opportunity to ‘employ clever’ as they are aimed at addressing skills shortages which are increasingly evident across the region. HLAs are widely recognised as the best combination of on the job training and employee higher level study available.

“Apprentices will gain a head start in their chosen profession and all costs are funded.

“The Apprenticeships offer a new pathway for learners to gain professionally recognised qualifications at Level 5 whilst working in paid employment with partner employers.”


Ten students from North West Regional College (NWRC) experienced the trip of a lifetime when they travelled to Hong to take part in the VTC-ITE International Student Seminar (ISS) on Smart Living.
As the only college in the whole of the UK to take part, the students worked to prepare a Project Based Learning Ted Talk presentation on Smart Living, and were also be given the opportunity to exchange ideas with other students from across the world on issues faced on a global scale.
The students, who study across a wide range of curriculum areas including I.T., Performing Arts, Business and the Built Environment were mentored on the trip by NWRC members of staff Michael Poole and Annette Smith.
The ISS 2019 was a four day event held at the Hong Kong Institute from June 17-20, where students from Vocational Training Council, Institute of Technical Education and other invited overseas institutions shared their sights on the concept of Smart Living.
Ahead of the seminar the ten from NWRC were asked to provide organisers with a fun picture that depicted the culture of their home town. The students opted for a photoshoot at the water fountains at Guildhall Square which also captured the city’s iconic and historic walls.
Annette Smith, Project Based Learning co-ordinator at NWRC said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our students, and we are delighted that they were selected to participate in such a prestigious event.
“The ISS seminar is a biennial event started in 2007 providing an opportunity for students at Higher Diploma level (from age 18-20) to exchange ideas on global issues through various interactive activities, including presentations, exhibitions, performances and cultural/ industrial visits.
“The main theme of the ISS 2019 is “A Smarter Generation for 2020+”, which aims to raise students’ awareness of innovation and technology advancement globally and, as a result, its impact on individuals and society.
“NWRC has a strong focus Project Based Learning at the college encouraging students to undertake real life skills projects working directly with local industry.
“This seminar allows them to take this work to the next level. The main theme of the ISS 2019 is “A Smarter Generation for 2020+”, which aims to raise students’ awareness of innovation and technology advancement globally and, as a result, its impact on individuals and society.
“The Seminar also covered sub themes such as: Smart Living – Are you living smart? Smart Environment – How well are you protecting the environment? and Smart Economy – Entrepreneur of the future?
“The young people were challenged to generate new ideas that enhance daily living experience and daily and business activities.
“There was also be the chance to experience some of the culture of Hong Kong during the trip, so it really was the opportunity of a lifetime.”

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.

Seagate unveils £57m investment plans and 25 new jobs for Derry plant

LEADING electronics manufacturer Seagate Technology has announced a £57.4 million investment in its Springtown plant.

The company, which provides data storage solutions for companies across the world including read-write heads for hard disk drives, has announced major investment in R&D at its wafer manufacturing plant at Springtown, which will create 25 highly skilled new jobs.

Seagate is investing £47.4m of its own money and is being aided by long-time supporter Invest NI to the tune of almost £10m (£9.95m).

The funding will be focused on enabling further research and development in nanophotonics, cementing Springtown’s position as a leader in world class technology innovation.

Speaking at the announcement yesterday, Seagate chief executive officer, Dave Mosley said the latest investment will further grow the business, which set up in Derry back in 1994.

“Technology innovation is the cornerstone of our success and the industry-leading innovation delivered by our facility in Springtown has been at the heart of our business strategy for the last 25 years,” he said.

“Today’s investment extends a successful, collaborative partnership with Invest Northern Ireland and will further strengthen our ability to deliver customer-centric technology leadership for the data-driven future of the global economy.”

Jeremy Fitch, executive director of business solutions at Invest NI said they are delighted to continue the successful partnership with Seagate

“Supporting the company along the way has been Invest NI, with every £1 of our support contributing to £4 investment in the local economy.”

“We are delighted to be able to offer support towards this latest project which will see 120 highly skilled researchers here at Springtown, including 25 new recruits, play a major role in the development of ground-breaking new technology,” he said.

Londonderry Chamber of Commerce president, Brian McGrath hailed the investment as “extremely welcome” news.

“It is great to see that the investment will create 25 highly skilled jobs and will bring a number of important economic benefits to the area.

“This is a clear indication and endorsement that the north west is an important place to do business and emphasises that we have impressive talent and ability throughout the region,” Mr McGrath added.

Seagate’s Springtown facility is recognised as one of the foremost 200mm wafer fabrication plants in the world.

The site has grown from an initial charter of world class manufacturing in the first decade of operations to adding development and product launch capabilities in the last ten years. The facility employs over 1,400 staff and the company is estimated to have invested in excess of £1 billion in capital here over the past 25 years.

Strabane Community Project’s new ‘Grass Roots Concept’ has been announced as a joint winner of this year’s £2k Social Enterprise Competition run by Derry City & Strabane District Council as part of Enterprise Week 2019.

£2,000 from the Council’s ‘Social Enterprise Innovation Seed Fund’ was up for grabs recently at Strabane District Caring Services as budding social entrepreneurs from throughout the City & District pitched their creative ideas for innovative projects they want to see get off the ground.

Following the Social Enterprise Competition, £1k has now been awarded to ‘Strabane Community Project’ and ‘The Playtrail’ to help both groups set up a new shop / kitchen and training facilities.

Strabane Community Project will use the prize money to purchase cooking utensils, crockery and chefs’ clothing for larger kitchen facilities which will offer training opportunities and cooking workshops for people in the local area.

Set up in 1987 to support older and more vulnerable residents in the area, Strabane Community Project also opened one of Northern Ireland’s first ‘social supermarkets’ under the management of Ursula Doherty in January 2018 to help people living in food poverty.

The innovative new ‘social supermarket’ sells products reduced in price by up to 70% to people receiving welfare payments and tax credits.  This allows them to purchase a range of cheaper items – including fresh and frozen food, dried goods, as well as fruit and vegetables – provided as surplus stock by the charity Fare Share

Ursula Doherty, Manager of Strabane Community Project said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded £1k from the Social Enterprise Innovation Seed Fund!

“This will make a huge impact in terms of us being able to buy cooking utensils, crockery and chefs’ clothing to help us to take this exciting project forward.

“At the Strabane Community Project we’ve always been keen to develop a range of skill-building programmes, including cooking skills, money management and personal development, education programmes, training, etc.

“Our café has also been greatly supported by the public and local businesses, community groups and outreach services who make use of the facilities to deliver meetings and events.

“Our plans are under way for phase 2 of Grass Roots and work will be commencing in early April of the installation of a new larger kitchen to meet that increasing demand. Indeed, it will also be a ‘training kitchen’ providing Level 1 & 2 accreditation in catering & hospitality.  Non-accredited courses will also be available for families and individuals who’d like to learn cooking skills or ‘How to cook on a budget’ programmes which will be delivered by the NW Regional College.

“Importantly, we’re keen to help people come together and learn more about cooking – and in doing so better promote healthy living for residents in Strabane and the surrounding areas.”

Danielle McNally, Business Officer with Derry City & Strabane District Council and a member of the four-strong panel who judged the £2k Social Enterprise competition, said: “I was delighted to judge this year’s pitching competition and hear from the many groups and social entrepreneurs from across the Council area who are interested in developing their new project idea.

“Importantly, the ‘Social Enterprise Innovation Seed Fund’ is about rewarding and encouraging creativity, talent and innovative ideas within social enterprise.

“As part of this year’s prize package both ‘Strabane Community Project’ and ‘The Playtrail’ will not only secure £1k in financial support, but can also avail of business support services from the Council which will help them grow.

“Indeed, it’s wonderful to see that funding for the larger working kitchen will provide much-needed training opportunities – and also benefit this great community space that is doing so much to unite residents across different backgrounds, ethnicities and ages.”


The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr John Boyle said the visit today by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelossi was a huge honour for the city and a significant vote of confidence in the work being done to bring about real and positive change for the citizens of the City region.

Speaking at a reception in the city’s Guildhall today, Mayor Boyle spoke about the strong historic, business and political links between the City region and the United States and the strong determination and ambition to further build and develop those links.

Mayor Boyle said the visit by President Clinton to Derry in 1995 had brought hope and gave the people of the city confidence to seek a different future. He said today’s visit was a strong endorsement of the message to renew that commitment.

He acknowledged the strong commercial relationship the city has with the US in terms of trade and investment and spoke of the commitment on both sides to continue to work in close collaboration to strengthen those relationships to create a prosperous and peaceful future for everyone.

He paid tribute to John Hume, who could not attend but who was represented by his wife Pat, by acknowledging his political “vision, tenacity and imagination.”

The Mayor acknowledged the challenges the City region faces with Brexit and reassured the delegation that by working in close partnership we have created a strong functioning cross border economy that is both resilient and robust.

He thanked Ms Pelosi for taking time out of her busy schedule to visit Derry and for her tireless support for the Good Friday Agreement.

Concluding he said: “With the words of President Clinton, “Let’s finish the job” because there is still a lot of work that needs to be done and I have absolutely no doubt the people of this city will be fully appreciative of your assistance in realising our ambition.”

Professional and amateur golfers are teeing up for the Walled City of Derry & Strabane Pro Am Tournament, which will take place on August 24 and 25.

As one of the largest events in this year’s PGA calendar, and now in its third year, the tournament hosts 52 teams and a total of 208 golfers.

Top Irish PGA Professionals from all over Ireland will be competing for the title and a guaranteed prize pot of 15,000 euros.

Sponsored by Bishop’s Gate Hotel and Frylite and supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council, the tournament has attracted Ireland’s top professionals, including Irish PGA Order of Merit Winner Simon Thornton and defending Champion Michael McGeady.

Strabane Golf Club will be a location in this year’s tournament, ensuring it is a truly North West event.

Ciaran O’Neill of Bishop’s Gate Hotel said: “This tournament promotes the extremely strong offering that the North West region provides in terms of golf tourism.

It brings together a broad range of golfers and golf enthusiasts and it is a top attraction in this summer’s sporting calendar. We’re thrilled to be involved and we’re looking forward to showcasing what the North West has to offer.”

For further information, please contact City of Derry Golf Club on 028 7131 1496.

Log on to www.pga.info/regions/ireland