Invest Northern Ireland’s North West Action Plan has attracted almost £100 million in new investment to the region, Prof Fabian Monds, Invest NI Chairman, said yesterday.
Prof Monds said £24 million of the £60 million planned investment by Invest NI had been committed since the launch of the NW Action Plan in March 2004. This will lead to a total investment in the North West of more than £96 million.
Detailing Invest NI’s work under the NW Action Plan at a meeting with business and civic leaders in Derry, he said: “We’ve made significant progress since the launch of the plan in terms of attracting new investment to this important region but there’s still much to do to achieve our objective of helping to transform the North West into a vibrant and modern economy.
“Our focus on entrepreneurship, innovation and encouraging international trade is beginning to produce tangible benefits for the area that will create greater wealth for the community and provide new employment opportunities in a region that has been adversely affected by the decline of traditional industries such as textiles and clothing.
“We’ve been very encouraged, for example, by the high level of interest being shown by people wishing to start a new business following the launch of the ‘Go for It’ campaign and the Start A Business show in Derry.
“We’ve also strengthened our team in the North West to meet this demand and to enable us to assist established businesses in the area to achieve faster and, above all, profitable growth in both the short and long terms,” he added.
Prof Monds said Invest NI assistance under the NW Action Plan had already contributed to:
• Meeting a target of 2,100 people becoming engaged in new business activity, with 607 new businesses forming under the Start A Business programme in the five district council areas, including 127 in Foyle and 102 in East Londonderry, with assistance from Invest NI totalling more than £170,000;
• 28 new Invest NI client companies, including 18 with export potential, being assisted;
• 56 Business Development projects, including 12 in the Magherafelt Council area, 26 in Derry, three in Limavady, six in Coleraine and eight in Strabane to help existing companies achieve growth targets;
• 10 companies currently being assisted to invest in Research and Development projects through Invest NI’s COMPETE programme;
• 99 companies participating in the Invest NI Company Development Programme in terms of business improvement projects and networking, and four firms appointing Business Improvement Agents;
• 37 companies taking part in a range of trade activities. Of these eight were first time exporters, six were assisted to enter new markets, eight took part in trade missions and a similar number in Impact workshops;
• 200 companies being offered support to harness broadband technology;
• Investment in business infrastructure continuing with £2 million allocated to date for developments at the Northern Ireland Science Park and approval gained for a new building for potential business investors.
In addition to these achievements, Prof Monds said Invest NI has strengthened the region’s inward investment focus in consultation with the councils and business organisations in the region.
He added: “We are working alongside the University of Ulster to harness the business potential of leading edge research in nanotechnology, information technology and biotechnology and to promote knowledge transfer to local companies.
“Investment already allocated and planned will enable the pace of progress to gather momentum and thereby create exciting opportunities throughout the North West,” he said.