Minister Richard Bruton TD, today announced that preparatory work has commenced for the construction of a new 20,000 sq ft Science Park building, at Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT), representing an investment of €4.5mn.
The new facility will enhance the development of Science, Research and Innovation in the North West region. This initiative, in tandem with a similar facility in Derry City, is a cross border project, co-funded by the EU’s Regional Development Fund through the Interreg IVA Programme, by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and by the Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel.
The new building will serve as an extension to the existing, very successful CoLab facility at LYIT, which currently houses 28 companies employing over 100 graduate-level employees. CoLab provides a supportive environment to enable these companies to grow, and benefit from cooperation with the academic community and students on the LYIT campus. In this way, CoLab contributes to the development of an innovation ecosystem within the North West leading to the rejuvenation of the regional economy.
It is intended that the new facility in Letterkenny will provide 13 new business Units and significant research space. The target is that it will support over 60 high-end jobs. It is also hoped to develop 3 cross border clusters (involving Enterprise Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland) and that the facility will help secure one additional FDI project into the North West each year.
Planning permission for the new facility was granted within the last few weeks and the preliminary site works have just commenced. The main contract for the construction of the new building is expected to be signed later this month, work will then get underway immediately, with completion due by mid-2015.
Speaking at CoLab, Minister Bruton said: “A key part of our Action Plan for Jobs is supporting job-creation across all the regions of the country. The border region was particularly badly hit by the employment collapse 2008-2010 with over 30,000 jobs lost, and in Donegal particularly more than 10,000 extra people joined the live register. In the past three years we have started to see some progress, with 2,000 people leaving the live register and 500 additional people employed in IDA companies in the county. Across the border region an extra 14,000 jobs have been created in the past year.
“However we must do more, and that is why in the 2014 Action Plan we are putting in place measures like establishing Local Enterprise Offices in every country, advance IDA facilities in places like Letterkenny, and a competition to find the best young entrepreneur in every county. Today’s announcement that, with support from my Department and the EU, a state of the art new 20,000 sq ft Science Park will be built at LYIT is a great lift. I am convinced that this will prove a huge boost for research and innovation in the border region and ultimately help turn good ideas into good jobs.”
The project is being delivered through a cross-border partnership involving the Northern Ireland Science Park, LYIT and led by the North West Cross Border Group.