Trade and technology transfer opportunities for Northern Ireland knowledge-led companies in the US were top of the agenda at a business meeting in Londonderry and a seminar at Coleraine today organised for a business delegation from Colorado by Invest NI. Opportunities in these areas will again be the focus at a seminar in Belfast tomorrow.

The 10-member delegation from Colorado state, arranged as part of a developing relationship between Invest NI’s Trade group and the state authorities, includes Jim Lyons, a corporate lawyer and US Economic Advisor to Northern Ireland in the administration of former President Bill Clinton, and John Maguire, the British Consul in Denver.

Senior representatives from Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Governor of Colorado’s International Trade Office, the trade specialist in Mayor of Denver’s Office, Colorado Software and Internet Association and Denver Telecoms Professionals Group are in the delegation.

Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Director of Trade, commenting on the visit, said: “We targeted Denver and the wider Colorado state as a potential trade and technology partner because the area has a strong tradition of the type of technology-driven and globally focused entrepreneurship that Invest NI is keen to help grow faster in Northern Ireland.

“As is the case in Northern Ireland, small companies drive the Colorado economy, particularly in Denver, which has been one of the top US cities for small business over the past four years. Some 5,500 high tech businesses, many of them small companies, currently contribute over 60 per cent of Colorado’s exports.

“Another resource that Colorado shares with Northern Ireland is a highly educated workforce. There is much to be gained, therefore, by local companies and the wider Northern Ireland economy from trade contacts and an exchange of know-how with Denver and Colorado state,” added Mr Hingston.

The delegation explored opportunities for business exchanges with around 20 companies from the North West and academics at the seminar at the University of Ulster’s Coleraine campus today.

Presentations from the Denver delegation focused on opportunities in biotechnology, nanotechnology, photonics, IT, telecoms and environmental industries.

Professor Gerry McKenna, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ulster, welcomed the delegation at the Coleraine event, which was sponsored by the university’s Science Research Parks. The event included a presentation by Fusion Antibodies, a leading Northern Ireland biotechnology company.

The delegation also visited the University of Ulster’s Magee Campus yesterday where they were met by the Deputy Mayor of Derry City Council, Alderman Mary Hamilton, Prof. Thomas Fraser, Provost of Magee Campus, and Prof. Terri Scott, Managing Director of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise at Invest NI.

The seminar in Belfast City Hall tomorrow is sponsored by Belfast City Council and will also explore high tech opportunities, including presentations by Fusion Antibodies and Biznet, an internet solutions specialist.

Around 30 Northern Ireland companies are scheduled to attend the Belfast seminar, along with senior research staff from the two universities.

In addition to the delegation’s visit, Invest NI has organised trade missions, investment presentations and participation at major events in Denver.