Economy Minister in new drive to attract US business

Economy Minister Arlene Foster is spearheading a major business drive in the US from 26 – 30 October 2008.

On her first visit to America as Minister of Enterprise Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster has a series of meetings with potential investors and will be supporting Invest Northern Ireland marketing activities in Boston and San Francisco. The visit is a follow-up to the successful US-NI Investment Conference held in Belfast in May.

In Boston, the Minister will be taking part in a major two-day symposium and exhibition on the latest healthcare technologies. This is organised by the Centre for Connected Health and Boston’s Partners Health Care at Harvard Medical Centre and part sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland. Other sponsors include major international corporations such as Johnson and Johnson, Philips Healthcare, Qualcomm, Cisco Systems and Verizon Wireless.

The Minister will then travel to San Francisco to link up with an Invest NI trade mission of 15 companies and the University of Ulster. She will support the companies as they seek to develop new business in the US and will also meet several Californian companies interested in locating operations in Northern Ireland.

One of the companies travelling with the mission is Newry-based First Derivatives plc. It employs over 140 people in major global financial centres such as New York, London and Singapore, providing services and computing technology to investment banks and other financial institutions across the world.

Commenting on the current economic situation the Minister said: “While the US is currently in the midst of serious economic difficulties, there are still significant business opportunities for Northern Ireland companies prepared to back up good products and services by investing time and other resources in what is still an important market, particularly for innovative technology.

“Northern Ireland companies also have an excellent track record in the US market which remains our biggest outside Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, purchasing goods worth more than £1billion on average annually.

“We now have a reputation as a source of new technology, particularly in sectors such as ICT, digital audio, business processing solutions, life sciences and high added value products and services. I am determined to build on this during the forthcoming trade mission.”

Paul Kinney Director of First Derivatives said: “First Derivatives will be fully participating in the forthcoming US trade mission as this is a core market for our software products and consulting services.

“We have established relationships with leading US technology companies, many of which are as a direct result of Invest NI sponsored trade missions to places such as New York and California.

“We have also recently acquired a Philadelphia-based company to further reinforce our US footprint, which again illustrates the importance of these trade missions.

“By globalising our market-reach through partnering with industry leaders in key markets, First Derivatives will remain well positioned as a vibrant, niche capital markets service provider.”