Enterprise Minister, Barry Gardiner MP, today officially opened a new £1.2 million Technology Incubation and Resource Centre in Omagh, which will increase the number of hi-tech, innovative businesses operating in the region.
The 10,000 sq ft Centre will provide 19 technology incubation units. In addition a 2,000 sq ft Technology Resource Centre, funded by Omagh District Council,will provide support to local businesses and facilitate technology transfer from local colleges and the university.
Mr Gardiner said: “Earlier today, I announced that Northern Ireland’s unemployment level has reached 4.5% - the lowest level on record, and that it has fallen below the UK average for the first time ever.
“Job losses have been witnessed in traditional sectors in Omagh as in other parts of Northern Ireland. However, the developing, knowledge-based sectors are driving our economic growth. The development of these sectors will ensure that low unemployment rates are maintained and that Northern Ireland becomes a high value-added economy,able to compete globally.
“This Centre encompasses the keys to creating a more competitive Northern Ireland -knowledge, skills, innovation and enterprise. The accommodation will encourage new and developing technology-based businesses that will contribute not just to Omagh, but to Northern Ireland as a whole. I congratulate all the organisations who worked together to make the project happen.”
The project is the initiative of Omagh Enterprise Company (OEC) and has been supported by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI), Invest Northern Ireland, International Fund for Ireland (IFI) and Omagh District Council.
Invest NI chairman, Fabian Monds, said: “This new centre will enable Omagh Enterprise Company to better encourage the cross fertilisation of best practice ideas between education, technology, R&D and businesses.”
Roy Howard, Chairman of Omagh Enterprise Company, said: “Our vision is to provide a creative and supportive environment, and the necessary skills and expertise for the incubation and growth of technology focussed companies within the region. The centre’s state of the art communications infrastructure and multi-faceted support and advice in areas such as research and development, venture capital and innovation, will stimulate new technology businesses in the region.”
William McCarter, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said: "We are very pleased to have been able to make a major contribution to the development of the Technology Incubation and Resource Centre. It will enable Omagh Enterprise Company to further enhance its local economic development strategy by preserving and growing small business employment, which is necessary to provide economic stability, while at the same time improving the skills base within the Omagh area."
Speaking on behalf of Omagh District Council, the Chairman, Councillor Sean Clarke, said: “Today’s official opening is another milestone in the ongoing development of Omagh Enterprise Company. Omagh District Council is committed to providing strong civic leadership in the field of economic development and that commitment is evidenced by our willingness to work in partnership with the commerce sector and other agencies to provide state of the art facilities such as this superb new Centre for local small businesses. The Council, in association with the Building for Sustainable Prosperity Programme, is delighted to have been a partner in this development.”
The investmentis part funded by the EU Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme and Peace II.