Impressive growth by firms at Fort George earns award

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Impressive growth by ‘knowledge’ companies based at the fully occupied Fort George campus of the North West Science Park has earned the project a prestigious European ‘Sail of Papenburg’ Cross-Border Regions Award for 2015.

The annual Award has been bestowed by the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) since 2002 and recognises exemplary cross-border cooperation.

The North West Regional Science Park has two campuses in the North West region together now providing 95,000 square feet of flexible and connected, superior quality contemporary workspace. The Innovation Centre located on the banks of the Foyle, on the site of a former army barracks opened in September 2015.

The associated extension to the Letterkenny Institute of Technology’s successful CoLab business incubator was completed earlier this year. The North West Regional Science Park is already home to over 55 high potential start-up enterprises employing over 400 knowledge workers. Both campuses are becoming the twin foci of the Knowledge Economy in the NW.

NI Science Park, CEO Dr Norman Apsley OBE, said, “We are delighted to be recognised for this prestigious award from the Association of European Border Regions. This award is a reflection of the success of the development of the North West Regional Science Park which was delivered on-time and on-budget. The Innovation Centre on Fort George is in full use by knowledge companies, showing average growth of 34 per cent, for the processes of business acceleration and, especially gratifying to us all, with visits from Schools and influential visitors from outside the region. The partnership with LYIT has been a real testament to the quality of leadership on both sides of the border and to the innovative companies across the North West region.”

Paul Hannigan, President of Letterkenny Institute of Technology, commented, “Through the investment in the NWRSP, LYIT now hosts the largest business incubation centre on any third level educational campus across the island of Ireland. This project has been a real catalyst in encouraging innovation in the North West region, and working with NI Science Park this strategic partnership will continue and develop further into the future”.

AEBR Secretary General, Martin Guillermo-Ramirez, said: “The Sail of Papenburg is awarded to border and cross-border regions showing outstanding programmes and projects that are an exemplar of cross-border cooperation and a motivation to contribute actively to a better understanding and better relations at the borders between the nations throughout Europe.

“This is the type of initiative that can be a perfect inspiration for other border and cross-border regions in Europe, as they are overcoming strong differences by implementing joint initiatives for a common future. We wish a long life to the NWRSP and encourage other European border regions to take good note.”

Councillor Paul Fleming, Chair of the North West Region Cross Border Group, said, “Cross border collaboration in the North West continues to strengthen access to business networks, academic research and national and international bodies and we are delighted that this has been recognised and commended by Europe.”

Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), which manages the INTERREG IVA Programme, said, “We are extremely pleased and proud to hear that the North West Regional Science Park has received this award. The project has a distinct cross-border focus relating to the development of innovation and growth for local businesses. The partnerships that it has created will enhance the economic outlook of local firms on both sides of the border, for many years to come. I welcome this very well deserved EU-wide accolade and look forward to learning more about the project’s successes in the near future”.