The Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Patricia Logue, welcomed a delegation of PhD students from a special London College community to the Guildhall on Friday for a special reception.

It’s the first time that students from Goodenough College have visited the city as part of a wider cultural enrichment programme. Goodenough College is an educational charity providing award winning postgraduate student accommodation in the heart of London’s university district.

The College aims to provide a supportive community for over 700 international postgraduate and their families from over 80 different nations. It benefits students through a programme of intellectual, cultural and social activities that gives students access to an international network and nurtures a global outlook. 

12 students arrived in the city as part of a trip aimed promoting their understanding of N. Ireland, and in particular Derry, including its history and culture. While they are here the group are staying at St Columb’s Park House and visiting a number of local sites.

Welcoming the group to the City, Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Patricia Logue, said: “I am always delighted to welcome young people to Derry and to share some of our wonderful heritage and culture. We have a strong connection with the City of London in terms of promoting skills and education, and this was another opportunity to discuss our shared interests and the many benefits of living, learning and working here.

“The students really enjoyed their visit to the Guildhall, where they had the chance to ask questions about local politics, peace-building and how Derry has been positively transformed over the years. They were also impressed to learn more about the city’s development as a leading hub for research and innovation excellence particularly in the areas of AI, data, health, and industry 4.0 technologies.”

Travelling with the students are the Dean of the Goodenough College, Alan McCormack originally from N. Ireland, who is also chaplain to the Lord Mayor City of London and Catherine McGuinness (fellow of Goodenough College and former Policy Chair, City of London).

Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Patricia Logue, pictured with a delegation from Goodenough College, London, held in the Mayor's Parlour. Seated on her left is Alan McCormack (Dean, Goodenough College) and on right Catherine McGuinness CBE (Chair of the policy & resources committee, City of London Corporation). Standing on the right is Adam Goodall, Investment Project Officer, DCSDC. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Patricia Logue, pictured with a delegation from Goodenough College, London, held in the Mayor’s Parlour. Seated on her left is Alan McCormack (Dean, Goodenough College) and on right Catherine McGuinness CBE (Chair of the policy & resources committee, City of London Corporation). Standing on the right is Adam Goodall, Investment Project Officer, DCSDC. (Photo – Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Invest Northern Ireland and the Department for the Economy have announced a £16.3 million investment in a new state of the art Artificial Intelligence Collaboration Centre (AICC), to be based at Ulster University in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast. 

Pictured (L-R) are Archie Clements, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research and Enterprise, Queen’s University Belfast; Dónal Durkan, Executive Director of Strategy and Partnerships, Invest Northern Ireland; Professor Liam Maguire, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research, Ulster University; Keith Forster, Director of Innovation, Research and Enterprise, Department for the Economy.

The Centre will focus on increasing business awareness and adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to boost competitiveness and productivity across all industries including logistics, finance, life-sciences, manufacturing and Agri-Tech. 

The AICC was formally launched at an event on Ulster University’s Belfast campus today. As well as speakers from both Universities and Invest Northern Ireland, attendees heard reflections from Brian Hills, Chief Executive of The Data Lab, on their journey to setting up a similar AI centre in Scotland. There was also a panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges for AI adoption in Northern Ireland with contributions from Kainos, FinTrU, Analytics Engines, Whitespace and both Universities.

“We are in the midst of an AI driven revolution and through this investment we will harness the transformative power of AI, ensuring its potential is diffused and applied to a broad business base which will encourage economic growth and be of great benefit to our people and society.

“This collaborative project, with bases in Belfast and Derry, will serve as a hub for innovation, bringing together research expertise and industry professionals to collaborate on cutting-edge projects and solutions.

“The centre, the people who work there and the important work it will deliver will be an important contributor to my wider economic vision as we aim to raise productivity, promote regional balance, reduce carbon emissions and deliver good jobs.

“As part of today’s announcement, the Department has offered almost £2.5 million to support additional AI and Data Science postgraduate qualifications to be delivered by Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast to expand the capacity of our talent pipeline to meet industry need.”

Economy Minister: Conor Murphy

The AICC, with bases at Ulster University’s Belfast and Derry/Londonderry campuses and Queen’s, will also encourage greater industrial innovation and collaboration with academia to increase both local and FDI investment. The provision of additional training and professional qualifications in AI will also be delivered through both Universities.

“Our support of £13.8 million over the next 5 years is to increase business knowledge and adoption of AI technology. AI is one of the most important technological developments of the modern era and has the potential to deliver important benefits such as R&D excellence, skills development and increased competitiveness. With some 100 local companies already currently using AI technologies in their operations we have an excellent foundation to build upon our capabilities locally.

“As a region we are already recognised as an area of excellence in the realm of Big Data and data analytics. We now have the opportunity to make our mark in the AI arena and to realise the economic benefits that will come from adopting AI right across our business landscape to improve productivity, deliver good jobs, reduce costs and enhance sectoral competitive positioning.”

Dónal Durkan, Executive Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Invest NI,

“As an academic institution we are proud to be leading the way in cutting edge research relating to the application of AI in business settings. The AICC represents a new resource of 25 dedicated staff who will use their existing knowledge and expertise to inform, educate and empower businesses to adopt AI, as well as stimulating new research and innovation for the responsible adoption of AI.

“In partnership with Queen’s University Belfast we will deliver 390 funded Postgraduate AI qualifications and also classroom-based or online skills training to thousands of workers across Northern Ireland over the next five years. 

“The AICC looks forward to working in conjunction with industry to increase adoption of AI while simultaneously creating the AI workforce of the future through the development of new qualifications.” 

Professor Brian Meenan, the Ulster University AICC Principal Investigator,

“AI and machine learning are evolving at an amazing rate and major developments are occurring at a monthly level. It offers enormous potential to transform business operations, so university-industry interaction is vital to ensure effective and fruitful engagement. Queen’s academics can provide insights into productivity improvements and help create innovative solutions for challenging problems using state-of-the-art AI approaches.”

Professor Roger Woods, the Queen’s University Principal Investigator

A Unique cross-border location.

There’s no place like home. And there’s no location quite like Derry and Strabane, a unique cross-border region offering an ideal combination of city, coast and countryside.

Whether you’re returning home, or relocating here for the first time, a move to the North West can bring rewarding work opportunities and a life rich in culture, community and breathtaking scenery. The investment proposition here is equally as enticing, with the UK, Ireland and EU markets on your doorstep, and robust local and national support.

A cross-border hub

As the only cross-border city on the island, Derry has access to multiple markets, a highly skilled young workforce which is culturally literate in operating across two jurisdictions, and investment support available on both sides of the border.

Whether you’re relocating to the North West to grow your business here, work remotely, or join one of our leading local employers, you’ll find excellent superfast broadband availability across the region. We enjoy a 67-millisecond connection with the East Coast of the USA – among the fastest in Europe. As well as 97% superfast broadband coverage to facilitate remote working.

Work opportunities

You might be returning from university seeking a fulfilling graduate role. Maybe you’ve racked up years of experience, and are ready to take the next step in your corporate journey. Or perhaps you want to move back to the North West with your family, to enjoy our fantastic quality of life without compromising on career goals.

Whatever stage you’re at in your career, you’ll find job opportunities in a wide range of sectors here in Derry and Strabane – from award-winning local financial services and engineering firms, to innovative tech and life sciences companies, and major multinational brands.

Support for investors

If you’re looking to grow your business in the North West, Derry City and Strabane District Council can offer investment support, trade missions and connections with the City of London Corporation and international partners to assist and promote your venture.

Organisations such as Intertrade Ireland can help your business explore cross-border markets, while on a national level, Invest NI and IDA Ireland are also there to assist your venture.

The right balance

Quality of life here in the North West is one of the things we value most. It’s why a Sunday Times survey named “cool, credible and cheap” Derry as the best place to live in Northern Ireland.

Derry is a vibrant city – the fourth largest in Ireland – with a young population, a great primary, secondary and third level education system, and famously friendly people (we were ranked number one for community spirit in an NI poll). And of course, our award-winning restaurants and bars are ‘LegenDerry’.

A gateway for exploring

Derry and Strabane are also brilliantly located for enjoying the best the North West has to offer on both sides of the border, nestled where the Wild Atlantic Way meets the Causeway Coastal Route.

Fancy a sunset stroll after work, or a weekend adventure? You can reach a stunning Donegal beach within 20 minutes’ drive of Derry, and even head up to the North Coast for a surf. Or, in less than half an hour’s drive from Strabane town centre, you can be hiking through the breathtaking Sperrin Mountains.

Vertiv (NYSE: VRT), a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions, today announced that it is making a significant investment in a manufacturing facility in Campsie, Derry / Londonderry, creating approximately 200 skilled jobs and contributing to the Northern Ireland economy.

Supported by Invest Northern Ireland, Vertiv’s investment will further strengthen Northern Ireland’s highly developed and advanced manufacturing and engineering sector.  

Speaking about the investment, Karsten Winther, president of Europe, Middle East and Africa at Vertiv, said: “We are delighted to be making this investment which will support our EMEA and global business growth and help us to meet strong market demand for our infrastructure solutions, mainly driven by digitalisation and AI adoption. Vertiv’s focus is on solving the most important challenges facing today’s data centres, communication networks and commercial and industrial facilities with a portfolio of power, cooling and IT infrastructure solutions. This new investment will support our goal.” 

Philip O’Doherty, Managing Director for the E+I business at Vertiv, added: “Derry was not the only location we considered for this facility, but it came out on top when we realised the quality of the local workforce, the cost-competitive business environment and the ease with which we can establish links and work with colleges and universities to support our research and development plans. The support from Invest NI was also crucial to our decision to choose Northern Ireland.”  

The Department for the Economy’s Assured Skills Academies will assist in filling 72 of the jobs by providing training across skills areas in Electrical and Mechanical Installation.

Mike Brennan, Permanent Secretary at the Department for the Economy, welcomed the investment by Vertiv, saying: “This announcement of new jobs by Vertiv is excellent news for the North West, endorsing Northern Ireland’s place in the Advanced Manufacturing sector and further developing our sub-regional economy. 

“Assured Skills Academies have a track record of equipping participants with the skills employers need to flourish and grow. Furthermore, participants on these Assured Skills Academies who complete the training are guaranteed a job interview for a role with Vertiv and will be strongly positioned for success.”  

Welcoming the investment, Mel Chittock, Interim CEO of Invest NI, said: “September’s Investment Summit showcased Northern Ireland’s innovation and technological strengths across a number of sectors. Today’s announcement by Vertiv demonstrates the attraction of Northern Ireland for international companies that are seeking an optimal location for growth.  

“Invest NI is working to realise the Department for the Economy’s 10x Vision of creating a productive, innovation-based, export-driven economy in Northern Ireland whilst also achieving a fairer distribution of opportunities for all our people through regional balance. This investment in the advanced manufacturing sector in the North West, which is one of our priority clusters, takes us a step closer to achieving this.”  

Vertiv is actively recruiting for vacancies in engineering and other roles. The company has a robust diversity and inclusion strategy and is welcoming and encouraging women to apply for positions, with the goal of attracting more women into STEM careers at Vertiv. It will also use this opportunity to build on its already successful apprenticeship programme to attract graduates and apprentices into full-time skilled roles. 

This announcement is the latest development in Vertiv’s global manufacturing footprint. The company operates in more than 130 countries, providing an extensive portfolio of power, cooling, and IT infrastructure solutions and services that extend from the cloud to the edge of the network.  

For more information about Vertiv and recruitment in Derry / Londonderry visit

Software development company AquaQ Analytics has praised the North West’s “great pool of talent” as it progresses with plans to open a new Derry office.The Belfast-based specialist software, consulting and data services, which employs more than 250 people globally, is recruiting around 40 roles for the new location.AquaQ’s Chief Technology Officer, Jonny Press, said the Derry branch would give staff a flexible mix of home and office working.“Covid has torn up the rule book a bit for businesses.

It’s shown that staff don’t have to be in the office five days a week, and you don’t have to set up in those huge capital cities to attract great people and clients,” he said.“We’ve already got a number of staff from the North West, we know that their tech scene is thriving, and there’s a great pool of talent up there to tap into.“

It opens us up a bit more to those people who want to stay close to family and keep that work-life balance, people in the border counties too, and existing employees who don’t want to have to travel to Belfast.”Founded in 2011, AquaQ Analytics is one of Northern Ireland’s fastest growing companies. It provides specialist consulting, software and data services, cloud solutions and more, to clients working in sectors including capital markets and Tier One investment banks. In November, AquaQ held an insight event in Derry’s City Hotel to help potential employees and new graduates find out more about the business and speak with staff.

To find out more about vacancies at AquaQ Analytics, visit

Alastair Cameron is the Derry-based co-founder of @iamstartacus, a company which informs, inspires and connects startups and entrepreneurs. He is also Head of Startup Programmes at Digital DNA HQ, and he and the Startacus team recently organised BIG IDEAS, an in-person and live-streamed business event as part of Derry and Strabane Enterprise Week 2022.

Originally from Suffolk, Alastair moved to the North West in 2004 and worked in recruitment before redundancy led to a change of career path. A champion of the startup community, he was previously named as one of the UK’s game-changing entrepreneurs in the Sunday Times Maserati 100 list.

How did Startacus come about?

Startacus aims to make startup life easier, better and more connected. We do that by reporting on the startup news that matters, by partnering with brands and organisations that also care about startups, and by organising, arranging and hosting events, startup programmes, pitch competitions, and networking socials that bring all those good people together.

The Startacus concept was actually born out of redundancy. I had been working for Reed Recruitment in London and as they were expanding rapidly and my wife is from Derry, I put together a business plan for them to open a service office in the city. They agreed and I moved to Derry in 2004, eventually opening a city-centre office and growing a team of 5 staff. However, the economic recession of 2007-8 and a company restructure led to us unfortunately being made redundant.

In the final week of work, myself and Leigh, my Reed colleague and Startacus co-founder, got out a whiteboard and started brainstorming. There was some trial and error along the way, but we eventually came up with the concept of Startacus. Now, looking back, redundancy was actually a blessing if I’m honest.

How has Startacus evolved over the years?

As we’ve grown in the startup space, we’ve created more and more ‘offline’, physical events – from mini-conferences to pitch competitions. In the past few months, we’ve been working on a number of different projects – Enterprise Week, Exporting Founders, a programme helping early-stage founders understand more about cross-border and international sales and growth, and an exciting STEM project with the NI Science Festival. We’re also collaborating with Derry’s Revolve Comics to teach school children about local tech champions through the visual medium of comics.

There are typically no charges or fees for startups to work with us and that, I think, is where our true value lies.

We’re really interested in supporting entrepreneurs, linking them to people, joining the dots. The thing that’s often most challenging for business founders is knowing what support is actually available to them, finding the time to do something about it and building the right network. That’s where we can help and by partnering with brands and organisations that can enable us to help support founders on their journey.

Tell us about your involvement in Enterprise Week; what do you think it achieves?

As a city which is relatively small in terms of size, I think we have the potential and inherent desire to show real ambition. I think that’s what we deliver well at Enterprise Week. It allows people to think really bravely about what they would really like to do, to listen, learn, be creative and come up with good ideas for businesses.

How has Covid impacted the startup space?

There aren’t many positive things about Covid of course. However, just as remote working has opened up opportunities to work from home, and work across different time zones, the same applies to startups. Even though we did occasionally use Zoom etc before all this, there was definitely more of an obligation to be in certain places and meet people in-person much more. Now, you don’t have to get on a plane or a bus, you don’t have to travel to Belfast or Dublin –  there are fewer barriers.  So, I think in that sense, it’s given equality to people and for that reason the entrepreneurial scene should become more diverse.

In-person meetings are still hugely important though. To win business, you need to have that trust with someone, and I think that a face-to-face meeting helps to build that trust.  I just think that 80% of the stuff you have to perhaps do before that – the Skypes, the Zooms, the calls, the Google Hangouts – all that can happen online.

What’s the best thing about living in Derry?

Once people visit Derry, they generally always want to come back – which tells you a lot about a place really. Ultimately, I think the people make this place. As a whole, the people here are so welcoming, outward-looking and inherently caring. I think there’s still an opportunity to be further ahead in terms of equality and inclusion, sustainability and environment and become a leader in those things. You don’t need to be a big city to be leaders in change. I think that’s where Derry has a unique opportunity because of the passion of the people here and the history they’ve been through.

And of course there’s the quality of life. I love the beaches – I wish I could say I’m a surfer, but I’m not! As a family, myself and my wife and three kids love being out and about. I think that’s one of the things lockdown has taught us: how much we should value where we live.

An exciting new opportunity for local entrepreneurs goes live today, with the launch of the RE:IMAGINE Pop Up Shop initiative, which will be delivered by The Fashion & Textile Design Centre (FTDC) in Derry and BID in Strabane. The initiative is part of the new Start Up Accelerator Programme being delivered by Derry City and Strabane District Council, Enterprise NW and Strabane Enterprise Agency, who have secured £240,000 to assist individuals who have participated in the Go For It Programme, to take their business ideas further and develop their business skills. The programme is funded by the UK Government through the Community Renewal Fund, which aims to support people and communities by investing in skills, local business and supporting people into employment. Applications are now open, and local entrepreneurs will be in with the chance of pitching their products to secure one of six places to trade their merchandise in two top retail locations in Derry’s Foylside and the Pagoda, Strabane. The Pop Up Shops will run until June, with five spots available in Derry and one in Strabane. The wider package of support also includes bespoke mentoring, promotional marketing campaigns and technical assistance. 

  Speaking ahead of the launch, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, welcomed the support for local businesses. “This is a fantastic opportunity and one that will appeal to many of our budding local entrepreneurs. It has been a period of unprecedented challenge for commercial businesses, and the package of practical support on offer through the Pop Up Shop Initiative will make a huge difference to any new enterprise trying to get off the ground.”There is a wealth of entrepreneurial talent here in Derry and Strabane and this is a great incentive to showcase some of the creative new product lines that are being developed locally.” Deirdre Williams, Business and Development Manager from the Inner City Trust’s Fashion and Textile Design Centre, will be bringing her creative expertise to the scheme, and said it would enhance the commercial potential of local brands. “There is a strong creative community here in Derry and this initiative will open up opportunities for designers and creatives to tap into new networks and establish a strong customer base. It’s also a great opportunity to utilise our city centre retail space, opening it up to local entrepreneurs and rejuvenating our high streets, putting our local businesses front and centre.”I’m looking forward to working with these new businesses to help them make the most of the commercial opportunities on offer through the new Pop Up shops, and bringing their brand and ideas to new audiences.” In Strabane the initiative will be led by the BID, and Chair, Kieran Kennedy, said today that he looked forward to working with the successful candidates. “We are proud of the progressive business network here in Strabane and the successful candidate in this initiative will have the opportunity to become part of this network at an early stage in their business journey.”We appreciate the many challenges faced by fledgling entrepreneurs but the expertise will be on offer through mentoring and one to one support to help progress their plans and become established as a successful and recognised brand. It’s a fantastic opportunity, and it will be great to welcome a new business to Strabane town centre.” 

The scheme is open to anyone who is self-employed, working in fashion, textile, homeware and lifestyle and operating within the Council area. Applications must be submitted by Thursday January 6th and participants must be available to pitch on Thursday February 3rd 2022, with the shops launching at the beginning of March. Applicants must also have completed the ‘Go For It Programme’ with Strabane Enterprise Agency or Enterprise NW within the last six months, or be willing to go through the Go For It Programme.To find out more about how you can apply for the RE:IMAGINE Pop Up Shop Initiative, and more about the Start Up Acceleration Programme go to

Version 1, the global IT services company currently recruiting remote working staff in the North West, has teamed up with mental health charity Aware NI to help ensure that its employees are fully supported during COVID-19.     Invest Derry Strabane – which recently launched the Work Life Balanced campaign in association with Version 1, aimed at promoting the North West as a premium remote working destination – has welcomed the company’s initiatives which also include supporting the local community where their staff are based.  

Version 1 took the decision to support a mental health charity when the consequences of the pandemic became overwhelmingly apparent during the last 18 months. People were forced to adapt to significant lifestyle changes, such as working from home and limiting social interactions. This in turn led to an increase in people experiencing isolation, anxiety, stress, and grief at losing loved ones.   Additionally, the tech firm’s commitment to supporting the local community is a critical element of its core values. Community First is Version 1’s main Corporate Social Responsibility initiative and is driven locally by the employees. The aim of this scheme is to improve employment opportunities in communities by supporting awareness, education, and access by leveraging technology and skills.  

Community First is locally driven, enabling each Version 1 office to support causes they care about in their particular area. Some of the Community First initiatives include mentoring, helping local schools, grinds, tackling youth homelessness and community engagement.   Version 1 has also been officially recognised as a Healthy Place to Work. This was achieved by engaging employees in the completion of a robust survey covering four pillars – purpose, mental resilience, connection and physical health – which gathered insight into their experience of work. From the results, the company was able to put together a plan identifying paths to improvement, which subsequently led to the prestigious certification.   Lorna McAdoo, Director of Operations and Business Development NI at Version 1, said: “Our support for Aware NI stemmed from a wish to highlight the mental toll that the pandemic has been inflicting on so many people. The charity helps people realise that it is okay not to be okay, and this service has proved to be invaluable. We have also benefitted from online sessions held by Aware NI to help us all with various tools to use during this time to reinforce resilience and ensure we have been adapting well to the working from home model.   “We are also extremely proud of the visible efforts the company has made to reach out to local communities, and our Community First activities have enabled many people to access education and skills that drive employment opportunities.   “In addition, Version 1’s recognition as a Healthy Place to Work in Northern Ireland was a significant milestone for our company.

Being spread across five countries presents its own set of challenges and it has been absolutely critical to ensure our employees are happy and healthy. We have been able to benchmark our progress through the data provided during the process and are now updating and creating initiatives and strategies across our operations to ensure our workforce is the healthiest it can be.”   Rosalind Young, Investment Manager at Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “Version 1’s approach to dealing with the impact of COVID-19 is exemplary. The company’s commitment to providing mental help and support is evident through their partnership with Aware NI, and their track record of maintaining a community-focused approach is also welcomed as they expand their workforce in the North West.   “I would also like to congratulate Version 1 on their official recognition as a Healthy Place to Work. With the company bringing many highly skilled new jobs to the Derry City and Strabane District Council area, we are delighted that their staff will benefit from our Work Life Balanced campaign.”  

For more information on the Version 1 roles available in the North West and to apply, visit the Invest DS jobs portal at