Invest Northern Ireland and the IDA Ireland today launched the NorthWestNow promotional programme aimed at enhancing the promotion of the North West Business Technology Zone (NWBTZ) and the wider North West Region.
The NorthWestNow promotional programme was launched by Graham Davis, Invest NI’s Director of Regional Economic Development, and Denis Molumby, Executive Director of Corporate and Business Development, IDA Ireland, at an event in Londonderry.
The promotional programme includes a new website www.northwestnow.eu and brochure which will be distributed worldwide through the Invest NI and IDA Ireland networks.
The NWBTZ project has created a focused partnership between central and local government, business and academia known as the Wider Stakeholders Committee.
This Committee includes senior personnel from the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, the chief executives of Derry City and Donegal County Council, the University of Ulster and North West Regional College in Derry, and Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Pramerica Ireland, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, a director of InterTrade Ireland and the former Chairman of Invest NI.
Mr Davis said: “The NWBTZ, substantially funded by the EU Interreg programme, is an extremely significant cross border initiative on which Invest NI and IDA Ireland have been working in active and real partnership since 2003. It has resulted in an ideal infrastructure especially for technology-led business investment.
“Against the current economic background of job losses and closures in the North West, it is important that we are all working to a common goal. This means striving to sustain the businesses we have and doubling our efforts to secure new investment that will deliver a diverse and balanced economy for the future.
“The promotion of the NWBTZ to potential investors is an integral part of the overall project and will be an important tool for both agencies in helping attract future investment to the North West,” he added.
Referring to the Inter-Governmental North West Gateway Initiative (NWGI), Mr Molumby, said that the range of infrastructural developments currently underway or planned under this initiative would further strengthen the North West Business and Technology Zone and compliment the work successfully completed to date. He specifically highlighted the "highly imaginative" ILEX regeneration project currently underway in Derry City and the transatlantic Kelvin Communications project, only the second project of its kind on the Island of Ireland, offering a direct link to North America. The Kelvin project which will provide high speed bandwidth at substantially reduced prices will, he maintained, remove a significant impediment for inward investment particularly those with an intensive Telco requirement.
Combining the Kelvin project with the planned motorway links between Letterkenny/Derry and Dublin and Belfast will remove the perception of the North West as a remote location and position the entire North West as a smart economy of the future, Mr Molumby said.
The NWBTZ includes:
High spec property solutions in both Londonderry and Letterkenny,
Improved cross border broadband telecoms and IT linkages
Education and Training programmes designed to meet the skills needs of existing and potential ICT and financial services investors.
The Interreg IIIA programme provided €10 million on a 60:40 split between North and South. This funding levered additional money from the public and private sectors resulting in a total investment of over £30million/€35 million.
Specific projects within NWBTZ already supported include:
The North West Business Complex and Entrepreneurial Hub – 53,000 sq ft of high spec flexible workspace at Skeoge Enterprise Park.
Timber Quay - a £10 million speculative building project in the City which provides 57,000 sq ft of open plan flexible workspace and is now the site for the Fujitsu Services FDI project which will provide over 300 high quality, IT jobs in the City.
C-TRIC (formerly ABC) at Altnagelvin Hospital - a £2 million facility providing 9400 sq ft of research laboratories and business workspace provision.
North West Labour Market Initiative - to meet the skills needs of existing and potential ICT and financial services investors and incorporating an MSc in Computing for Financial Services at the University of Ulster and training/courses in software engineering and ICT at North West Regional College.
The IDA Ireland Letterkenny Business and Technology Park – comprising three fully serviced parks, landscaped to a high standard, with a total of c.100 acres, linked by the Letterkenny Outer Relief Road and the Metropolitan Area Network. The park currently has two offices and two advanced technology buildings, provided by the private sector, available for new inward investment as well as a range of medium to large serviced sites. Expansions by existing IDA Ireland clients, notably United Health Group and Pramerica Systems Ireland, combined with new start up projects notably ZEUS Industrial Products, have resulted in around 600 new jobs being created on the park since 2003.