Derry is perfectly placed to regenerate its economy through high-tech medical innovation, the president of the Massachusetts State Senate has said.
Senator Therese Murray is currently visiting Derry with a delegation which includes representatives of leading pharmaceutical companies and universities. They were invited to the city by Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson.
The Senate President said Derry has everything the companies are looking for - an educated workforce and a proven track record of health innovation.
She also said the city can benefit from Derry’s historic links with Boston, as well as connections between the United States and Europe.
Senator Murray has been a regular visitor to Derry in recent years since meeting Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson, then an MLA, in Boston in 2007. Ms Anderson invited the senator to Derry and the pair have remained friends since.
During her visit, the senator attended the launch of the North West Health Innovation Corridor - a cross-border network of universities and research institutions stretching from Sligo to Coleraine - pioneered by Ms Anderson.
Senator Murray said the move makes the initiative makes the move more attractive to potential investors.
“The companies we have brought are looking to invest in other places. They are looking for an educated workforce and you have what they are looking for.
“There is a memorandum of understanding between the US and EU on eHealth innovation and US firms have already worked with European firms to draw down grants and vice versa. Links already exists between the University of Ulster and UMass Law and between and Lowell. Those connections are important,” she said.
Senator Murray also said investing in health research can transform Derry’s economy. “It’s something that we did in Boston and in Massachusetts generally several years ago and it really grew our economy. I want to be helpful in replicating that success here.
“We are so far ahead of other states coming out of the recession and it is because of the state investing in health innovation. We now have successful start up companies who are now in a position to expand.
“Worcester is the second city of Massachussetts and in the past it was regarded as the poor sister. In recent years it reinvented itself and is now a hub of health IT and biomedical science. The state invested in it a few years ago and as a result it is a highly innovative technology hub.
“That has totally transformed the city and we have added new train services to it and young people are returning to it to live. There are clear similarities between Worcester and Derry,” she added.
The Senator also said she has been encouraging people in the us to visit Derry during the City of Culture celebrations. “We have seen a lot of new things on this visit, particularly as we were coming into the city, when we saw things that were not there on our previous visits. I keep talking about Derry to everyone I meet.
“Anyone coming into my office will see a large oil painting of the city and a newer framed photograph which includes the Peace Bridge,” she said.