Posts

Derry’s cutting-edge Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre, C-TRIC, has showcased its work on International Clinical Trials Day.

The award-winning research facility, based at Altnagelvin Hospital, houses the Research and Development Office, Ulster University’s Personalised Medicine Centre, and the Research Nurses Office.

It connects patients directly to national and international research opportunities, and aims to improve patient care in the community.

It held an event on International Clinical Trials Day in May, which Caitríona Lavery, research nurse manager at C-TRIC, said had been an opportunity to celebrate the facility and the team behind it.

She added: “We work together to build a better healthcare future for all, providing improved patient care and outcomes for current and future patients.”

  • £50 million data innovation hub at Ulster University to support UK manufacturers to accelerate development of digital technologies
  • Dedicated grant funding will be provided to manufacturers to implement expert recommendations from data scientists
  • Adoption of digital technologies such as Industrial Internet of Things and artificial intelligence is key to driving manufacturing productivity, sustainability and competitiveness

UK manufacturers are to have their productivity and competitiveness boosted thanks to a new data innovation hub and testbed led by Ulster University, Industry Minister Lee Rowley announced today (Wednesday 18 May).

The £50 million Smart Manufacturing Data Hub (SMDH) will support small and medium size manufacturers to capture and better utilise their data, helping them increase productivity, growth and sustainability. Businesses in sectors spanning from food and drink, aerospace and many more will be supported to develop, test and adopt the latest data-driven technologies.

Nearly 10,000 manufacturers are expected to benefit from the hub and 13,000 jobs will be supported, helping to boost economic growth and level-up regions across the UK. The hub will be supported by £20 million from the UK government backed Made Smarter Innovation Programme, along with £30 million of business co-investment.

UK Industry Minister Lee Rowley said: 

“As we embrace the digital manufacturing revolution, it is vital manufacturers across the UK can capitalise on the productivity and growth gains that come with the adopting the latest data-led digital technologies.

“The Smart Manufacturing Data Hub, backed by £20 million of government funds, will support companies to implement cutting edge production and process techniques themselves, helping bring the next generation of products to our shelves in a more efficient and sustainable way.”

The hub will host an online Manufacturing Data Exchange Platform that will enable companies to submit their manufacturing data and receive recommendations in return, helping to improve their products and processes. A dedicated £5 million fund will then provide companies with grants to make further improvements in areas of critical importance to their business.

Virtual manufacturing testbeds will allow companies to create a “digital twin” to simulate the implementation of digital technology on their own processes, harnessing data from other manufacturers that have already adopted the technologies to encourage investment.

The SMDH will also provide manufacturers with expert analysis of their emissions and energy data from support staff specialising in data analytics and engineering, which will help them target reductions in waste, energy use and ultimately improve sustainability.

Pro Vice Chancellor Research at Ulster University Professor Liam Maguire said:

“Made Smarter provides the opportunity for innovative collaboration that will be transformative in driving industry competitiveness. At Ulster University, we have a strong track record of collaboration; using our research and technology to act as a catalyst for change, innovation and positive economic, social and environmental impact. Made Smarter is another important project in the broader realisation of the Derry and Strabane City Deal agenda, further enhancing the attractiveness of investment and driving economic growth”

The SMDH will first be accessible by small and medium size manufacturers in Northern Ireland in the coming months, before going live for companies across the rest of the UK. The programme will be supported across the rest of the UK by 12 delivery partners, including the University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing, Industry Wales and Scottish Engineering.

The funding comes as part of the £300 million Made Smarter Innovation Challenge, a collaboration between UK Government and industry designed to support the development and increased use of new and existing industrial digital technologies, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

The challenge aims to deliver a resilient, flexible, more productive and environmentally sustainable UK manufacturing sector. It will also develop new technologies that can be exploited commercially across the manufacturing industry, worldwide.

Today’s announcement builds on the government’s Help to Grow schemes, which are helping smaller businesses to boost their productivity with training and software that is proven to get results.

The impressive ecosystem of multinationals based in the North West of Ireland provides the people of the region with strong employment and development opportunities across diverse sectors.

One of the North West City Region’s largest employers, Allstate NI was established in 1998, to provide high quality software and business solutions to support its US-based parent company, the Allstate Corporation. Protecting people from life’s uncertainties with more than 113 million proprietary policies, Allstate offers a broad array of protection products through multiple brands and diverse distribution channels, including auto, home and life assurance.

Employing 900 people across the North West in offices in Derry and Strabane, the region is of major strategic importance to the company.  Their Derry office celebrating 20 years in business last year.

Allstate Strabane Office

Based in Buncrana, Co. Donegal, Talent Acquisition Manager, Alan Fletcher explains Allstate’s reasons to locate in the region with “The initial set-up about getting access to a deep talent pool available in the wider city region. The North West has talented individuals who make a great contribution to the success of all our businesses.”

Alan Fletcher: Talent Acquisition Manager

Alan is one of many cross-border workers in the Fortune 100 firm. He along with fellow colleague Maria McColgan, are both natives of Donegal and are part of a growing list of digital professionals who speak glowingly about Allstate and the North West City Region.

Maria speaks about the Allstate experience; “the social aspect of the company was beyond anything I had ever experienced, there is so much inclusiveness here and I felt this also supported my development professionally.”

Maria McColgan: Product Manager (Allstate)

Alongside her role as Product Delivery Manager, Maria is also as an ‘Inclusion Champion’, ensuring training is available for all employees and that everyone is happy coming to work. As well as this, Maria is an advocate for Women in Technology at Allstate, “I feel that as a female in IT that there is so much opportunity for which we need to make the next generation aware of.”

Looking to the future, Allstate aims to keep on top of technological advancements by looking for new talent and skillsets in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation and Cyber Security.

The company have embarked on an ambitious investment in re-skilling existing employees in these areas and identifying the next generation of talent, through their 3-year graduate development programme.

At least 100 graduate positions are expected to be filled this year with successful candidates being put through a journey of continuous professional development at Allstate, exploring roles in the skillsets identified such as AI, machine learning, production support and product testing. “The talent, skills and connectivity found in the North West is a major draw for Allstate to grow our talent centres,” comments Alan.

The company offers a flexible hybrid working policy, allowing employees to design a work schedule appropriate for their needs, while also helping to achieve the perfect work-life balance.

When touching on their experiences of living and working in the North West, the benefits were clear. Living in Carndonagh and working in the Calayst building in Derry, Maria comments that her commute through Donegal to work is “way more appealing that a 30-minute sit in traffic.”

“I suppose the major bonus is working in a close-knit community that the North West region provides”, Maria concludes.

“For me it is being able to have a global career in a unique location. I have been able to work in both Donegal and Derry for some of the biggest companies in the world” says Alan.

He also delves deeper into the ecosystem of collaboration between multinationals and high-quality educational institutions as Talent Acquisition manager: “I have built academic partnerships with the University of Ulster, North West Regional College and Atlantic Technological University to name a few and it has been great to see exciting job opportunities being created in the North West region.”

“The fact the region has been voted the best place to work in Northern Ireland shows we are heading in the right direction.”

With the MIT Innovators Under 35 Event set to take place in the gTeic @ GaothDobhair this week, showcasing the vast array of talent of young people across Europe and the North West City Region, it’s assuring to see that investment in the talent of tomorrow is fundamental to Allstate’s operations within the region. 

FinTrU, a technologically enabled regulatory solutions company, has been honoured with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise (International Trade) in 2022.

The company won the Queen’s Award for International Trade for ‘Outstanding Continuous Growth’ in overseas sales over the last six years.

Headquartered in Belfast, FinTrU has rapidly expanded in recent years with additional global offices in Derry/Londonderry, New York, London, Dublin and Maastricht.

FinTrU Founder & CEO, Darragh McCarthy, said “It is an absolute honour for FinTrU to be recognised in this way. The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is an incredibly prestigious accolade with a vast array of highly respected winners over the years. We are delighted at FinTrU to see the hard work of our employees rewarded with this fantastic achievement.”

Employing over 1,000 people, FinTrU was founded in 2013 and provides technologically enabled Regulatory Solutions for Investment Banks – specialising in the areas of KYC, Compliance, Legal, Risk & Controls and Operations.

Now in its 56th year, the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious business awards in the country, with winning businesses able to use the esteemed Queen’s Awards Emblem for the next five years.

Source: Written from press release.

PwC is opening a space at Ulster University’s Magee Campus in Derry/Londonderry as part of its investment in innovation in Northern Ireland.

The space will house research and development for its £40m Advanced Research and Engineering Centre (ARC), which launched last year in conjunction with Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast, with support from Invest Northern Ireland. 

Through its alliances with government and academia, ARC’s innovation ecosystem is looking to build solutions to complex business problems into the next decade and beyond. This latest collaboration will see Ulster University students and researchers, at the Jordanstown and Magee campuses, work alongside Operate staff.

The new space will be used primarily as a base for ARC staff based in the North West of the country as PwC Operate ramps up recruitment from beyond its Belfast base. PwC Operate will start with four people at Ulster University’s Magee campus, but is looking to establish a larger team as ARC builds out its capabilities. 

Ian McConnell, PwC Operate Lead Partner, commented: “We’re delighted to be establishing a presence in the northwest. ARC’s vision includes university postgraduates working on research projects that feed into the software engineering function of ARC, as we develop solutions to our clients’ problems. ARC will continue to be based in our Merchant Square HQ in Belfast, but we’re keen to recruit from as wide a talent pool as possible. To be able to offer opportunities to people across the country is something very close to my heart and I believe fundamental to the success of this initiative.”

Jim Harkin, Head of the School of Computing, Engineering and Intelligent Systems from Ulster University also added: “It is positive for the Derry and Strabane City and District that PwC’s Operate will open an office at Ulster University’s Magee campus. The new office located on the Magee campus reflects the growing interest in doing business in Derry/Londonderry because of the easy access to talented people and innovative research from the Intelligent Systems Research Centre. As we develop research centres for robotics, AI and personalised medicine in the years to come as part of the Derry & Strabane City Deal, we will see more and more companies growing their presence in the North West and creating high-tech jobs.” 

The Stormont Executive has announced £15m worth of investment for a new 152-bed hotel in the Ebrington area of Londonderry.

The work will involve the refurbishment of the clocktower and five buildings in the former military base.

The first and deputy first ministers visited the development on Thursday to confirm the plans.

About £7m is coming from the executive office’s investment fund and almost £2m from Invest NI.

First Minister Paul Givan said it was “another step forward” for Ebrington and for the city.

“It continues to grow as a vibrant, modern city which is looking to the future with confidence – and there is a real sense of that optimism here today,” he said.

Mr Givan paid tribute to those involved in the redevelopment of the 29-acre site at Ebrington, which had been a military barracks until 2003.

Ebrington’s development is widely regarded as a key to Derry and the region’s wider economic growth.

“As today’s ideas become tomorrow’s opportunities, I will be watching with interest as potential turns into reality for Londonderry,” he said.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said the start of work on the hotel “is a milestone day for Derry”.

“Together with the Grade A office space due to be completed soon, this new hotel will bring a renewed sense of vibrancy and a real boost to the regional economy,” she said.

“I offer my congratulations to the developers and all who have played a part in getting us to this point,” Ms O’Neill added.

Plans for the hotel were unveiled in 2017 and granted planning permission by Derry City and Strabane District Council the following year.

Ebrington is the largest regeneration site in Derry.

A former naval base that opened in 1841, it was known as HMS Sea Eagle during World War Two and was an important part of the North Atlantic Command.

Work is expected to be completed on the four-star hotel in the summer of 2023.

Plans have been submitted for the new high-tech Alpha Innovation Centre in Letterkenny.

The enterprise campus, which is estimated to cost €20m, is set to be built in the heart of the town on the former ESB premises on Pearse Road.

The development will include a seven-storey building of approx 1,625sq.m (17,500sq.ft) and office and research & development facilities – providing space and opportunities for new and existing businesses to work and network.

The campus will also incorporate a central civic space; pedestrian, cycle, accessibility and moblity infrastructure; landscaping; disabled and age friendly courtesy parking and emergency/service vehicle entry and egress.

The €6m Alpha Innovation Centre has secured €3.6m co-funding from Enterprise Ireland, and the €14m Beta
Business Centre, is being developed in partnership with Catalyst NI.

The project is being led by Donegal County Council in partnership with the Donegal 2040 Strategic Development Designated Activity Company (DAC). It is co-funded by Enterprise Ireland under the Border Enterprise Development Fund and will be delivered in collaboration with the key economic development agencies including, IDA and Donegal LEO along with Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Donegal ETB, Donegal Digital and ERNACT.

The centre is set to provide a bespoke pre-accelerator for early idea entrepreneurs as well as an extensive programme of wrap-around supports for businesses. The Alpha Innovation Centre will build on the latent potential of the emerging tech start-up scene in the Northwest, contributing to the region’s reputation as a great location to invest and do business.

The Derry City and Strabane District City Region has been ranked second in the FDI European Cities of the Future 2022 category in a study carried out by the FDI Intelligence Division of the Financial Times.

Welcoming the accolade, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke said the high ranking in this significantly prestigious and influential study was hugely positive for the City and District as Council as well as its wider delivery partners as they continue to work to set in motion the next stages of delivery of the City Deal and a wide range of major investment and regeneration plans to transform the City Region.

The ranking comes less than a year after the City and District was ranked first in the FDI Global Cities of the Future Category in a report carried out by the FDI, competing against major cities across the globe.

The data collated for this latest report is collected by the FDI intelligence division of the Financial Times using specialist online tools, FDI markets and benchmarks. Data was collected for 553 locations (367 cities, 148 regions and 38 LEPs), under five categories: Economic Potential, Human Capital and Lifestyle, Cost Effectiveness, Connectivity and Business Friendliness. Locations scored up to a maximum of 10 points for each data point, which were weighted by importance to the FDI decision making process to compile the subcategory rankings as well as the overall ‘European Cities and Regions of the Future 2022/23’ ranking. In addition, surveys were collected under a sixth category, FDI Strategy, for which there were 161 submissions. In this category, locations submitted details about their strategy for promoting FDI, which was then scored by fDi’s judging panel.

The Derry City and Strabane District City Region ranked second in the European Cities of the Future Category, tipped only by Doncaster and Sheffield City Region and overseeing competition from other European cities such as Cork, Middlesbrough and Lublin.

As part of the evaluation process, judges assessing the application took account the area’s economic potential, cost effectiveness, connectivity, human capital and lifestyle and business friendliness, as part of their assessment.

Mayor Alderman Warke said this ranking was hugely significant and puts the city and district on a positive footing as it progresses to the next stages of delivering the exciting and innovative City Deal projects. He said the ranking put the city and region on the map in terms of gaining recognition from world leading investors and helps increase the city and region’s visibility across the Financial Times Group global readership and audience, which in turn will encourage further funding and investment.

He said: “Securing this top ranking in this category is hugely positive for us and reflective of the huge amount of proactive work that has been done over the past number of years to actively promote and develop the opportunities in Life and Health Sciences, in digital technologies and in the application of research in artificial intelligence and machine learning across our City and District. Key to this is that all these areas of focus and investment continue through City Deal projects. Our prime focus will be to develop opportunities for the development and promotion of the compelling proposition that is our city and region and the wider North West.”

Kevin O’Connor Head of Business with Derry City and Strabane District Council who was involved in the bid for the award, said the panel in their feedback acknowledged the strong cross border collaboration and mobile talent available in the region and the city and district’s innovative approach to developing talent in high demand sectors. He said the region’s large international diaspora with its strong international business network was also recognised, while the use of historic connections to the city of London and using it to focus on attracting UK based companies who want closer dual market access to the EU and UK was also acknowledged.

He said: “This is a very significant coup for us and comes at a very exciting time in our City Deal journey and as we are recovering from the COVID pandemic and working proactively to promote investment opportunities across our diaspora network, highlighting our increased quality of lower cost of living and increased work life balance to those interested in returning to live and work here. Combined with being recognised by USwitch.com as the top location in NI for remote working in the UK Top 5, along with being one of the top locations in the UK for Full Fibre Network connectivity, we are ideally placed for remote working.  We are also the only City region located where the UK and EU meet, and is a great place to live, visit, study or to do business in.”

For more info on the report visit https://www.fdiintelligence.com/article/80707

An investment of £1.6m by the Executive Office’s Urban Villages Initiative in a major regeneration project at the New Gate Arts and Cultural Centre in Derry~Londonderry will help create a new shared space and bring people together.

Work has begun on a significant extension to the existing New Gate Arts and Cultural Centre in the Fountain which will provide a safe and inclusive space for locals and visitors to share and participate in a range of theatre, music and dance events.

Junior Minister Gary Middleton, who visited the site today to cut the first sod for this new state-of-the-art shared performance space in the heart of the city, said: “This new space will not only support a wide variety of arts and cultural activities, it will significantly rejuvenate this area, injecting new life and bringing with it great opportunity.

“The North West Cultural Partnership have successfully used arts and creativity as a catalyst for change over the years, bringing people from different backgrounds and cultures together in shared experiences.

“This investment of £1.6million by the Executive’s Urban Villages Initiative, in a new build multi-use performance space, will expand their ability and opportunity to facilitate more activities, training and performance, while connecting with wider audiences.”

Junior Minister Declan Kearney said: “I am delighted that work is under way on this transformative project.

“Through the Urban Villages Initiative we are committed to investing in the development of thriving communities in areas of highest deprivation and historical social tension.

“And I have no doubt that this new multi-use space will bring considerable benefits for The Fountain and the wider city. It will improve the physical environment of the area and give people from different backgrounds and traditions the opportunity to come together to enjoy artistic and cultural activities, helping to build connections across cultures and develop positive community identities for all.”]

Junior Minister Gary Middleton, Kyle Thompson, New Gate Arts and Cultural Centre, and Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke

The development will include a new welcome and reception area, a 140-seater flexible performance space, a dance studio and cafe. The plans also include an exhibition space, a rooftop break-out space and art room, as well as office and meeting space; all of which will be fully accessible.

Kyle Thompson, Project Capital Co-ordinator, commented: “The investment from the Urban Villages Initiative will transform the area; improving the physical environment, creating additional facilities and helping us develop a thriving, welcoming community.

“New Gate Arts & Culture Centre will act as the gateway to The Fountain, it will promote its rich cultural heritage, nurture and develop our community’s artistic talents and enable people to engage with, understand and appreciate the significant contribution that this community has made to the city and region. We are delighted that the contractors have been appointed and that construction has started.”

The project is designed to not only enhance the local environment and improve community relations and engagement, but to inject life and vibrancy into The Fountain area of the city, restoring pride and confidence among those living and working in this area of the city.

Speaking during a site visit today, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Alderman Graham Warke said it marked a very exciting milestone for everyone involved in the project, including delivery partners Derry City and Strabane District Council.

He said: “It’s a huge honour for me as Mayor to be here onsite and see at first hand work starting on this hugely significant and exciting community arts and cultural facility that will transform not only the Fountain area, but the entire city and North West region.

“This community arts and cultural centre will not only create a safe and inclusive space for artists, performers and the community to enjoy but it will act as a real catalyst for change in bringing people together from across the city and district to enjoy shared experiences and further enhance good relations among our communities.”

The Stormont Executive has announced £15m worth of investment for a new 152-bed hotel in the Ebrington area of Londonderry.

The work will involve the refurbishment of the clocktower and five buildings in the former military base. The first and deputy first ministers visited the development on Thursday to confirm the plans. About £7m is coming from the executive office’s investment fund and almost £2m from Invest NI. First Minister Paul Givan said it was “another step forward” for Ebrington and for the city.

“It continues to grow as a vibrant, modern city which is looking to the future with confidence – and there is a real sense of that optimism here today,” he said.

Mr Givan paid tribute to those involved in the redevelopment of the 29-acre site at Ebrington, which had been a military barracks until 2003.

Ebrington’s development is widely regarded as a key to Derry and the region’s wider economic growth.

“As today’s ideas become tomorrow’s opportunities, I will be watching with interest as potential turns into reality for Londonderry,” he said.

Artist Impression of Ebrington Hotel at Ebrington Square, Derry/Londonderry

‘Renewed sense of vibrancy’

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said the start of work on the hotel “is a milestone day for Derry”.

“Together with the Grade A office space due to be completed soon, this new hotel will bring a renewed sense of vibrancy and a real boost to the regional economy,” she said.

“I offer my congratulations to the developers and all who have played a part in getting us to this point,” Ms O’Neill added.

Plans for the hotel were unveiled in 2017 and granted planning permission by Derry City and Strabane District Council the following year.

Ebrington is the largest regeneration site in Derry.

A former naval base that opened in 1841, it was known as HMS Sea Eagle during World War Two and was an important part of the North Atlantic Command.

Work is expected to be completed on the four-star hotel in the summer of 2023.