£12m boost for science park

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Plans to establish a cross border science park at Fort George have received a major boost with a £12 million funding package from Europe.

The North West Regional Science Park will be built at the former British military site at Fort George and will be a satellite of the new NI Science Park at Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

The Special European Union Programmes Body, a powerful funding group, has sent a draft letter of offer to the North West Region Cross Border Group, the lead partner on the project, for £12 million towards the development.

The state of the art science park will house high-tech research and development units and has the potential to create hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds for the local economy.

A confidential email - which the ‘Journal’ has seen - has been sent to members of the North West Region Cross Border Group announcing details of the draft letter of offer. The email states that the project steering committee expect a joint ministerial statement, confirming the multi-million pound funding package, to be made in early October.

The project is being developed in partnership between the Northern Ireland Science Park, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, and Ilex. It is expected to be completed by 2015.

A spokesperson for Ilex said; “The North West Regional Science Park is a cross-border proposal being brought forward by a partnership between the North West Cross Border Region Group, the Northern Ireland Science Park, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and Ilex. It is designed to deliver a regional Science Park campus, modelled on the highly successful development in the Titanic Quarter in Belfast which would provide a significant boost to the northwest economy while helping to further develop the overall Northern Ireland Knowledge Economy.

“The project team can confirm that the project planning is well advanced and negotiations are nearing completion with the Special EU Programmes Body to agree the final funding package.”