Regional science park could yield 280 jobs

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Plans are underway to build a multi-million pound regional science park as a flagship project for Fort George.

It’s anticipated that the North West Regional Science Park - a joint venture between Ilex and Letterkenny Institute of Technology - could yield up to 280 highly paid technology jobs.

An application for £14m has been lodged with EU funding body Interreg to finance the construction of the regional centre at two sites - the former British army base at Strand Road and Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT).

The application was submitted by the city’s urban regeneration body in partnership with LYIT at the beginning February in an effort to bolster the North West digital corridor between the Derry and Letterkenny.

With Ilex having gone back to the drawing board on the original ‘Down Town Derry’, Manhattan-like masterplan for the vacant site, the body now believes that a centre modelled on the successful Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter can spark the major regeneration of Fort George and help fuel the transformation of the riverfront.

Ilex CEO Aideen McGinley said the park will take up 50,000 square feet of space on one of the 14 acres available at the vacant Fort George site.

She said that private sector companies have expressed interest in locating at Fort George and that a green light for a regional technology centre would be a “big catalyst” in securing such investment.

Ms McGinley said the project would have real potential to be a “big game changer” for Derry’s economy.

She said it was anticipated the project would create 220 high value jobs for well qualified graduates, around 140 “indirect” jobs and at least 30 construction jobs.

“The purpose of the project is to create an environment to nurture and accelerate the commercialisation of science and technology businesses in the North West and support learning, networking and R&D activity.

“It has strategic fit with the city’s Regeneration Plan, One City One Plan One Voice, will be a significant economic driver and can create over 280 high quality, high value jobs,” she said.

She added that the centre would “underpin the region’s position as a smart economy and a digital centre of excellence”. She said it would also align with catalyst programmes in the city’s regeneration plan such as the expansion of the University of Ulster’s Magee campus and maximise the potential of the University’s research base.