Derry is in line for a major jobs boost which could see the establishment of a Global Centre of Pharmaceutical Excellence creating almost 300 new jobs.

Negotiations to bring the state-of-the-art laboratory facility to Derry have been ongoing for the last eight months and are at an advanced stage.

The development will create 287 jobs in its first phase with the possibility of up to 1,500 further jobs if the project moves to a second phase, with Timber Quay and Fort George being earmarked as possible sites.

The company behind the plans, Global Centre for Pharmaceutical Excellence (GPCE), has already announced plans for a major site in Tralee and is hoping to have another site in Ireland.

The Board of Governance of GPCE includes top academics, university chancellors, ambassadors, EU commissioners, and leading figures fro m the business world.

The centre, if located in Derry, will act as a hub for worldwide pharmaceutical companies involved in cutting-edge research and development projects.

A world expert in pharmaceutical development, Dr Peter Milner, was part of a delegation which visited the city this week to look at possible venues for the first stage of the development. He said he was “very impressed” with the city.

During the visit, organised by Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson, the delegation met with representatives from Ilex, Invest Northern Ireland, Magee university, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister.

The CEO of GPCE, Ruairi Doyle, said plans to locate in Derry are “well advanced”.

“It is very refreshing when you see the kind of can-do attitude that Derry has. That type of attitude is usually only seen in the United States. There is a very strong energy in Derry at the minute. Fort George offers great opportunities and is an ideal location to serve the whole north west. Timber Quay is also a great calling card for any company to have,” he said.

Ms Anderson said; “I make no apology for trying to secure this for Derry. It is a massive opportunity. The people of Derry are hungry for high value jobs and I will do whatever I can to help.”