Game changer - £250m City Deal milestone puts Derry & Strabane on AI, medical research and tourism global radar
The £250m Derry & Strabane City Deal package Heads of Terms Agreement are being signed off today in a milestone that will fire the starting pistol on funding release for major projects for growth, investment and prosperity.
The huge boost marks the single largest-ever Government investment in the region and will allow for expansion of the world-leading and pioneering research and projects across health, medicines, artificial intelligence and robotics and technology spearheaded by Ulster University.
It also involves £45m for a Foyle Street/ Riverfront and Queen’s Quay transformation in Derry to include the new Magee Medical School, £20m for a Walled City Experience and Maritime Museum and £50m for Strabane Town Centre Regeneration.
The key delivery partners of the City Deal led by Derry City and Strabane District Council are the Ulster University, the Western Health and Social Services Trust, the North West Regional College and C-TRIC.
They were among the guests who attended a virtual event at Derry’s Guildhall today that was hosted by the Mayor Brian Tierney, and attended by the First Minister, Arlene Foster MLA and Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill, the NI Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, CBE, and the NI Finance Minister Conor Murphy MLA, who officially signed the Heads of Terms Agreement for the Derry~Londonderry and Strabane City Deal.
Messages of support were also pledged by the Minister for Infrastructure, Nicola Mallon, MLA, the Minister for the Economy, Diane Dodds, MLA and the Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey.
Welcoming the Signing of the Heads of Terms, Mayor Tierney, said it marked a significant step in the City Deal journey with a commitment from the UK and NI Governments to work collaboratively with partners in the business and academic sectors to deliver a City Deal that will bring about a transformative boost to the region’s economy.
He said: “It is difficult not to overestimate the importance of the signing of the Heads of Terms today. It means that the projects set out in the City Deal are now able to move to the next stage towards delivery and long-term sustainable growth through what is a very aspiring, create and forward thinking range of innovative projects. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, through our combined efforts we have been able to continue to make great strides throughout the pandemic on the development of the detail of the outline business cases for the projects. A huge amount of work has been going on behind the scenes over the past number of months to get to this stage of the process. We are delighted to have signed the Heads of Terms to allow us to move on to the delivery phase that will see this Government investment and an additional partner-led investment being rolled out into our region from later this year.”
He acknowledged the collaborative approach to securing the City Deal and the joined efforts of the key delivery partners, key stakeholders and, civic and political leaders in getting it over the line.
“A huge amount of work has been done to ensure our City Deal projects align closely with the short term to medium term economic needs of the region. We have already made considerable progress towards our goal of achieving inclusive growth and we believe that the City Deal will allow us to deliver a step change in the implementation of these ambitious plans.”
So what is the City Deal?
The funding is as follows :
City Deal UK Government City Deal £50m – City Deal NI Government match funding £50m = £100m
Future Fund UK Government £55m – Future Fund NI Government match funding £55m = £110m
Total UK and NI Government investment = £210m
Project partner commitment = £40m
Total investment = £250m
Funding to be allocated as follows:
CARL - Centre of Innovation and Research at Ulster University in artificial intelligence and data analytics (CARL) - £16.5m
CIDRA- Centre of Innovation and Research at Ulster University in robotics and innovation - £22.5m
NIGEMS/THRIVE - expansion of CTRIC at the Altnagelvin Area Hospital site through a pioneering health-innovation project £45m
Strabane Town Centre Regeneration - £50m
Foyle Street/Riverfront/ Queen’s Quay - £45m
Tourism – DNA and Walled City Experience - £20m
Digital - £11m
Among the strategic projects included in the £250m investment package is the delivery of Centres of Innovation and Research at Ulster University in artificial intelligence and data analytics (CARL) and robotics and automation (CIDRA), together with the key smart/ digital City and Region initiatives, as well as the delivery of The School of Medicine at the Magee campus and the creation of a Health Research Institute (HRI) in the city and the expansion of CTRIC at the Altnagelvin Area Hospital site through a pioneering health-innovation project entitled THRIVE.
Key generation projects included in the City Deal include the provision of mixed use civic, health, leisure and educational facilities as part of a major regeneration of Strabane Town Centre, the creation of an interactive maritime attraction and an enhanced walled city tourism experience, as well as major regeneration investment along the riverfront and Queens Quay in Derry, to be closely linked to the expansion of the University. The provision of an integrated, Council-wide, multi-skills employment pathways intervention support programme will be interlinked across all these projects.
John Kelpie, Chief Executive with Derry City and Strabane District Council said this was an important milestone in the city and region’s journey to growth and prosperity.
He said: “Derry City and Strabane already has the building blocks in place to draw people, business and investment to the region, and a £250m investment of this scale will empower us to achieve our goals in regenerating key areas and creating a city and town centre that is SMART, safe, accessible and vibrant, that can sustain people and jobs and bring a real sense of pride of place. It has the potential to bring an additional 7,000 jobs by 2032 and lever additional millions in investment over the next decade. We aim to increase our output growth with a GVA (gross value added) of £230m per annum and see an additional £126m in wages.
“Since the establishment of the new Council, we have focused on the objectives set out in the Strategic Inclusive Growth Plan by delivering £100m on community projects to date. We strongly believe that the City Deal projects will help and strengthen the region’s business offer in growth sectors such as health and life sciences, digital industries and SMART technology and will support our digital capabilities to support economic investment and regeneration as well as boost tourism and culture.
“A funding package of this scale and magnitude will be felt across the wider North West region and beyond.”
He added that while there are challenges, he was confident all partners will continue to work collectively to build on the region’s positive assets to reinvent ourselves and be primed for a new and buoyant future.
“We strongly believe that the City Deal will bring life and people back into our city and town centres and that with this investment we can bring life, culture and opportunity to people’s doorsteps and create an environment that is safer and more attractive to our communities right across the board. Key to assist us in achieving that will be works to improve our public transport and the regeneration of key areas across our Council area and a range of public and private third sector party investments to allow us to bring this to fruition. This is only the start of the process; the real work starts now. It is up to all of us to deliver each and every one of these exciting projects and it is vital that all partners work in collaboration with Government to realise the City Deal’s amazing potential.”
Welcoming this important milestone, Professor Paul Bartholomew, Vice Chancellor of Ulster University said:“The Derry and Strabane City Deal represents a bold, transformational plan for Derry~Londonderry. As a strategic partner, Ulster University will work with the City and other stakeholders to deliver innovation projects that will play a significant part in the region’s bright future.
“Today represents a significant moment in the progress of these Deals. Ulster University’s projects will further enhance Derry’s reputation as a centre for excellence for Research and Innovation and a hub for Health Sciences. We are committed to providing a pipeline of ambitious and innovative graduates who can maximise opportunities in the North West. The University already has a reputation for excellent research, and as such, we are well placed to deliver courses at the Magee campus in priority growth areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Smart Manufacturing Systems and Personalised Medicine which support these wider City Deal ambitions.
“The City Deal and its suite of catalyst projects will make Derry~Londonderry and the surrounding region an even more attractive location in which to study, work, live and invest. We will work alongside Derry City and Strabane District Council and all other strategic partners to deliver this for the City and wider region. This signing of the Heads of Terms Agreement demonstrates the vision and collaborative spirit of all partners who are to be congratulated for reaching this stage.”
Dr Anne Kilgallen, Chief Executive, Western Health and Social Care Trust said: “As Chief Executive of the Western Health & Social Care Trust, I am delighted to acknowledge the work led by Derry City and Strabane District Council in their efforts to secure the unprecedented funding now agreed through the City Deal and Integrated Future Fund Initiatives.
“The wider strategic importance of this proposed investment relative to the Trust’s own significant investment plans include the on-site facilities for the new medical school at Altnagelvin, our proposed investment in Strabane Health & Care Hub and for the THRIVE initiative. These provide very significant opportunities for not only the wider economic and social wellbeing of the city and district, but also in relation to the enhancement of our services and the recruitment of medical and other health professionals to the Western Trust.
“In parallel with these important initiatives, the Trust has significant Trust investment proposals for a Health & Care Hub within the city side of Derry/Londonderry. This parallel investment which we remain hopeful of receiving OB1 business case approval in the coming weeks will allow site procurement and commence detailed design development and will further compliment the £210m already secured for investment within this region.”
Leo Murphy, Principal and Chief Executive of NWRC said today’s announcement is the next step forward in delivering economic and social prosperity for the North West Region.
He said: “The City Deal is a game changer as we work towards the goal of unlocking the North West’s full potential by building its economic structure, and today we take another step with these innovation and regeneration projects moving to Heads of Terms. I believe this will be a catalyst for change as it is the largest ever investment in this City Region.
“Proposals for the development of a replacement site for our Strabane Campus in the town centre are part of a strategic outline business case included within the City Deal. We believe such a facility has the potential to make a significant contribution to the future socio-economic regeneration of the Strabane region.
“NWRC has been an active party in the City Deal since its inception and we will continue to work with all partners to support the creation of more and better jobs for all our people through innovation and skills. “The recent announcement of the expansion of University places at Magee with the opening of the Medical School and the relocation of Health Science courses is a huge step forward and we must continue to work together to provide greater higher level learning and career opportunities in the region.”
Dr Aaron Peace, CEO of C-TRIC and Director of Research and Development for the Western Trust said: “This is a great day for Derry~ Londonderry. COVID-19 has reminded everyone of the importance of clinical research. The health innovation project, THRIVE, which is a unique equal partnership between the Western Health & Social Care Trust (WHSCT), Ulster University (UU) and Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC), will be of major benefit to the people of Derry/Londonderry and Strabane and is funded from the Inclusive Future Fund.
“THRIVE as an expansion our local research facility C-TRIC, is building on an established track record in personalised medicine which is a global priority. Our personalised medicine researchers, currently working at the cutting-edge of clinical research, will grow in the new expanded C-TRIC/THRIVE building, based at Altnagelvin and into the new Health Research Institute/THRIVE building which will be located beside the School of Medicine at Magee.
“The THRIVE initiative will seek to increase the number of talented graduates, serving the burgeoning Life and Health Science District in Northern Ireland. Our ability to better understand, treat and predict outcomes for patients with long-term medical conditions will be supported by a pioneering community owned Healthcare Research Company. THRIVE in partnership with our community will study the secrets of long-term medical conditions through their DNA. This rich repository of healthcare information will help attract more investment to the DCSDC area and across Northern Ireland. We are proud to be part of the Derry & Strabane City Deal and we look forward to bringing this brave vision to life in the years ahead.”
For more info on the Derry~Londonderry Strabane City Deal, visit www.derrystrabane.com/citydealREAD MORE: www.derryjournal.com/news/tech-innovation-fore-clearer-picture-emerges-our-city-deal-567642