‘City Deal’ boost to allow planning for riverfront hub and med school

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The £105m ‘City Deal’ and ‘Inclusive Future Fund’ package announced this week will spur progress on a major innovation complex, including a medical school, on the riverfront.

Derry City & Strabane District Council, welcoming Secretary of State Karen Bradley’s promise of funding, said the development and the expansion of Magee were central to its plans for future growth.

“The investment package will enable planning and business case development to now proceed on proposals for a significant landmark riverfront university medical education and innovation hub, comprising a graduate entry medical college and centres of innovation, research and teaching excellence in data-driven personalised medicine, cognitive analytics and robotics and automation, eventually delivering over 200 new posts/research assistants at the City’s university and upwards of 2,000 additional students.

“The stimulus package will additionally advance the delivery of a range of smart city and digital infrastructure projects and initiatives, further positioning the City and District as a highly digitally enabled location for cutting-edge business development and expansion and inward investment,” said DC&SDC in a statement.

The Council, which has led the ‘City Deal’ bid, alongside Ulster University, NWRC, the Chamber, Western Trust, Visit Derry, City Centre Initiative and Foyle Port, anticipates the investment will rise to over £300m with match-funding from Stormont and further monies leveraged from project partners and third party sources.

The £105m promised by the NIO has been allocated in two tranches: £50m for a ‘City Deal’ to support innovation; and £55m for an ‘Inclusive Future Fund’ to provide jobs and opportunities for young people.

The Mayor, John Boyle, said: “This hugely significant announcement for DC&SDC will go some considerable way in addressing the long-standing obstacles to economic development that this City Region and its people face. It is good news and is the result of an enormous amount of work and sustained effort invested by Council and the City and Regional partners to develop, deliver and negotiate on the bid.”

Brian McGrath, Chamber President, said: “This funding is hugely welcome and provides a solid platform upon which to grow and enhance the competitiveness of the City and Region and attract further significant exciting new companies, business prospects and investment. We also need to look at how we can build on this and how we can maximise the effects for city stakeholders, so that everyone in the community sees the benefit of this investment.”