New Science Park occupancy levels ‘welcome’- Cooper

Sinn Fein Councillor Mickey Cooper outside the new Science Park in Derry.
Sinn Fein Councillor Mickey Cooper outside the new Science Park in Derry.

Confirmation that 60% of the new North West Science Park has now been booked before it opens has been welcomed.

Sinn Féin Councillor and digital spokesman Mickey Cooper was speaking after meeting with representatives from the Science Park and also from the Ilex creative industries hub in advance of the official opening of the two new facilities at Fort George and Ebrington later this year.

Mr Cooper said the occupancy rate at the new £6m Fort George building boded particularly well for future, with this being the first major business project at Fort George since the British Army vacated it more than a decade ago.

Speaking to the Journal, Colr, Cooper, whose party had requested the meeting, said: “We were pleased to hear of the steady progress being made at both sites, and in particular the 60% occupancy rate at the NWRSP which compares favourably with the 30% at the Science Park in Belfast when it opened in 2005. Given the fact that the Belfast Park is now full to capacity we agreed that this bodes well for the future of the Derry facility.

“We also requested the meeting to ensure that the two facilities would not be in direct competition as they are distinct business models, and in addition would not lead to displacement from existing office space in the city.

“On the first point, it was highlighted that the NWRSP is targeted at knowledge-based companies whilst the Ilex facility at Ebrington will focus on the creative industries.”

Regarding displacement, both the NWRSP and Ilex gave assurances, Mr Cooper said, that funding constraints meant they could only house clients with specific backgrounds in the knowledge based or creative industries, and that they would not be at liberty to rent to companies seeking to establish businesses like call centres.

Both Ilex and the Science Park reps confirmed they had taken calls from some non-IT based companies interested in hiring office space and were happy to pass these enquiries on to other Derry businesses.

“As a direct consequence I have asked Derry City Councils Economic Development department to act as a conduit for all of these enquiries to be fed out to local businesses,” Mr Cooper said.

He also welcomed confirmation that the site would include a datacentre facility “which we have long identified as a major requirement to develop the IT infrastructure within the city”.