Innovative future for former army base

Published Thursday, 03 April 2014
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A former army base in Londonderry is being transformed into an innovative science hub and it’s hoped the new multi-storey building will bring new jobs and create companies in the city.

Innovative future for former army base
The new facility is rising into the Derry skyline. (© UTV)

Fort George was at one time the biggest military base on the west bank of the Foyle before its closure over 14 years ago.

Bought by the Department of Social Development, the site will be the home of the new North West Regional Science Park.

Work is nearing completion on the site and a symbolic "topping out" ceremony was performed at the site to mark the occasion.

It's hoped the new centre of excellence will tap into the city's innovative and creative talent pool.

Frank Hewitt, chairman of the NI Science Park said: "Innovation is absolutely key to the future of Northern Ireland and we're already beginning to see it influencing positively our industrial development.

"Innovation is already playing a role in terms of product development and in the way we manage our companies."

Software development company 8over8 will be the anchor tenant when the building is completed.

It provides software to some of the world's biggest oil and gas companies after it started out life at the University of Ulster's Magee campus.

It has come to be a home-grown success and has offices in Paris, London, the USA, Australia and the Middle East.

The company's chief executive Clare Colhoun said Derry had a potential to be a major player on the world stage.

She added: "We have a fantastic team of young people here in Derry who work incredibly hard and a lot of our success is down to them.

"We're up at the crack of dawn and pull lots and lots of all-nighters to achieve success."

The new Science Park is hoping to be a key location for harvesting talent and other local technology start-ups are being encouraged to consider the facility as a potential new home.

SDLP MP Mark Durkan added: "It's about creating that hub where you get that buzz between people who are creative and those that are innovative and hopefully that creates different spin-offs and we stay at the cutting edge."

© UTV News
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