CONNECTED Business Magazine Issue 2

Page 1


Issue 2


MANUFACTURING Packaging Success The importance of Kevlar®

ACCESS TO FINANCE Be Smart Help SMEs Find Funding

INNOVATION The Value of Innovation The Future is looking FAB

WORLD OF ROBOTICS Sean McNicholl, Managing Director of Sphere Global talks about his company, innovation and solutions 1






Danske Bank Expansion and new name for Danske Bank’s Finance Centre

Wee Greenway Planes, Trains and Automobiles (and Greenways)



Co-Funder The rise of crowdfunding & P2P

Motoring Mid-size SUV market




CultureTECH Fourth year for CultureTECH

Seamus O’Shea What’s the big idea?

City of Derry Airport The airport of choice for the North West


27 8

10 Londonderry Chamber of Commerce The road to Belfast

16 Fleming In business for 150 years

21 Gallagher & McKinney Ltd Expansion into the European Market

FabLab The future’s looking FAB

55 Airporter The value of innovation

58 Entrepreneurs The LegenDerry Bentley Boys



Chamber News Sinead McLaughlin, Chief Executive

24 SSE Powering investment in the North West

27 Cover Story World of Robotics Sean McNicholl, MD of Sphere Global 3


Connected, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce’s full colour publication. Designed and produced by business people for business people. Distributed to businesses throughout the North West. President Gavin Killeen Chief Executive Sinead McLaughlin Business Operations Manager Carol Kelly Membership Officer Mary Miller Marketing & Events Coordinator Cathy Kerlin Members Services Executive Laverne O’Donnell Connected Magazine Editor Jackie Logan Editorial Assistant and Motoring Correspondent Darryl Campbell Content Editors Sinead McLaughlin Carol Kelly Production & Design Browne Printers Ltd Advertising Mary Miller Londonderry Chamber of Commerce e: t: 02871262379 w:


Connected Welcome to the second edition of Connected Magazine, the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce’s magazine. In business sometime we all need a piece of advice or a helping hand. Connected Magazine gives you that but it also allows you to find out what else is happening in the North West – and you just might be surprised by what you read. It’s great to see businesses celebrate awards, growth, rebranding, new offices opened and just doing what they do, exceedingly well. This magazine celebrates all that is good in the North West and in this edition we’ve focused on manufacturing, innovation and access to finance. Here, you’ll get a taste of how business manufacture and innovate as well as some very vital advice on how businesses can access finance. You’ll also be able to read how the Chamber continues to highlight the many issues faced by businesses in the North West. We feature some key businesses within the manufacturing industry that are using innovation to find solutions. Our cover story tells how Sean McNicholl of Sphere Global is revolutionising business, not just in the North West, but across the globe. The world of robotics is fascinating and what Sean, who is Limavady born and bred, and his team are doing is ‘mind-blowing’ from introducing robotics to the construction industry to utopia glass factories. There is no doubt that he is the epitome of innovation and his vision is firmly set on building the largest research and development robotics facility in Europe, here in the North West – so watch this space! Meanwhile Darryl Campbell looks at the mid-size SUV market once again after test driving a Mercedes Benz GLC, a Lexus NX and the all new Volvo XC90 – so for those of who love your cars this section will be well worth a read. All that is left for me to say is – enjoy the magazine and stay connected.

Follow us on: Front Cover Picture Stephen Latimer Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, the publisher accepts no responsibility for omissions or errors within this publication. Editorial submissions are included at the discretion of the editor. The opinions expressed in articles within this publication are not necessarily those of the Chamber. All offers, promotions and competitions appearing in Connected are the sole responsibility of the advertiser/ promoting party and Londonderry Chamber of Commerce does not accept any responsibility for any representations made within them.


Jackie Logan Editor

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MESSAGE I look forward to my term as President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, building on the rich legacy of my predecessors. For me, the priority will be the themes of education and skills. Here, I will be following – hopefully seamlessly – from the focus of outgoing President Gerry Kindlon on the world of work. Gerry has stressed repeatedly how quickly the skills needed at work are changing and how we are today educating pupils for jobs that as yet do not even exist. I am convinced that employers must lead the changes in the education and skills environment. There will be no let-up from the Chamber in the core demands of better road networks and the expansion of Magee, but we also need to make an almighty push on the areas where we can have the greatest impact. Skills are at the heart of this. As Professor Neil Gibson told the Chamber at our annual dinner, it is the responsibly of all of us to improve the region. Business leaders are better placed than most to achieve societal change. It is no longer acceptable for businesses to say they can’t get the skills they need to compete. Businesses need to engage with all the relevant stakeholders to ensure there is a pipeline of talent coming through to fuel future demand. I want there to be open channels of dialogue, through which all the key players consider what they can do to help our city and region be equipped with the skilled workforce needed by the economy of today and tomorrow. Those conversations need to engage the post-primary schools, the North West College and Magee campus, as well as employers. One of our objectives must be to persuade more of our students who go away to study to return home after completing their degrees. But it is just as important to build vocational skills, including through higher level apprenticeships. I want us to aim high, with at least 150 young people locally in work/study apprenticeship programmes. I also want the Chamber to be involved in promoting skills development for micro-businesses, to strengthen the Digital Derry brand and develop a cross-border skills innovation corridor. I have spent the past five years driving this agenda. As incoming President, I will not let-up on this priority. Gavin Killeen, President

Chamber Board Members are: Gavin Killeen George Fleming Gerry Kindlon Sinead McLaughlin Andrew Ferris Andrew Fleming Brian McGrath Christopher Gray Donna Moran Ian Crowe Jennifer McKeever Niall McCaughan Padraig Canavan Paul Diamond Philip Gilliland Roy Devine Steven Lindsay Tracy Hegarty


Nuprint Technologies Fleming Agri-Products Ltd Seagate Technology Londonderry Chamber of Commerce Smalltown America Fleming Steel Londonderry Port & Harbour Commissioners Junior Chamber of Commerce President Morans Retail Group CPC Office Supplies Ltd Airporter The Playhouse U4D Diamond Corrugated Caldwell & Robinson Solicitors City of Derry Airport Moore Stephens Bradley McDaid Accountants Women In Enterprise

President Vice President Past President Chief Executive

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The Airport of Choice for the North West of Ireland City of Derry Airport (CoDA) provides a vital air access link to the local community and performs a pivotal role in growing the economy of the region through inbound tourism and access for inbound investment. The Airport is owned by Derry City and Strabane District Council with a team from Regional and City Airports Management (RCAM), responsible for the day to day management of the operation. RCAM is owned by the Rigby Group, who both own airports as well as having similar management service contracts in place for third party owners.


harlene Shongo, Commercial and Marketing Manager outlined “CoDA is a vital element of infrastructure for the region, handling as it did in 2014/2015, circa 400,000 passengers flying to a range of UK and European destinations. CoDA is the main gateway to the North West of Ireland and generates £7m of Gross Value Added into the local economy. As a Regional Airport, CoDA provides key domestic connections to the UK and offers holiday destinations during the summer months. CoDA’s aim is to deliver excellent customer service within a safe and secure environment”. Clive Coleman, CoDA’s Airport Manager and Contract Director for RCAM, outlined “The airport’s vision for the future is to become the Airport of choice for the North West of Ireland; improving air access to the North West by providing a range of domestic and international services and to reduce and eliminate Council funding whilst ensuring the Airport performs as a key driver for the North West, enhancing employment and increasing visitor numbers to the region whilst ensuring we continue to ensure full compliance with regulatory & safety requirements. “There are a number of challenges facing CoDA. Air Passenger Duty (APD), is the single biggest issue affecting growth in aviation, particularly Northern Ireland. This has been recognised in the recent House of Commons NI Affairs Committee and NIE Study. The location of City of Derry Airport presents an additional challenge as the Airport shares a land border with other airports not faced with the burden of APD. Route Development is directly linked to APD as the heavy tax burden imposed makes it more attractive for carriers to start up new routes elsewhere and the recent global


economic crisis had multiple effects on aviation, lowering disposable income, lowering the propensity to fly and making airlines increasingly risk averse”. “Aviation development remains difficult in challenging times, however, the short term strategy for CoDA has been to increase the frequency to London Stansted whilst focusing on potential additional domestic destinations, such as Manchester/Birmingham/ Dublin and exploring potential Northern European destinations with additional summer sun opportunities.”

In early 2015, CoDA submitted applications to the Department for Transport under their Regional Air Connectivity Funding. The fund was established by the Department to support new routes from regional airports that handle under three million passengers per annum. The process was a two stage evaluation. CoDA’s bid for a high frequency service to Dublin successfully passed the first stage of assessment and has now moved to the second stage of bidding; results are expected in early November.

The Importance of STEM Riona Fitzpatrick, Director of Global Sales Apps and Service Delivery Systems in BT talks about the importance of STEM

Where did your career at BT all start? My first full time job was in BT as a Software Engineer on a one year placement, back in 1999, and then I returned on the graduate programme in 2001. Since then, I’ve had a number of different roles. I’m currently working for BT Global Services, leading a global business and IT transformation programme.

What did you study at University and why? I studied Computing Science and I achieved a First Class Honours degree from Ulster University. It was a major risk as I didn’t have an IT background but it worked out well – so for anyone not sure what to do – IT is definitely worth thinking about! I would encourage every young person to explore subjects like IT and technology in school - each year, BT organises the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, the premier STEM event on the island of Ireland, and it is a wonderful event to help young people explore and focus on these subjects in a dynamic environment, outside of the classroom.

Are there people in business you admire? Definitely! I love the creativity of Richard Branson, and the relentless focus on results that Alan Sugar has. In our Belfast office I’ve established a Social and Engagement committee that organises STEM events for our own people and the wider community. The committee is a mix of new graduates and people who have been in BT for many years - I’m inspired by how they reach out and make a difference outside of our ‘day jobs’!

If you could change one thing about working in business – what would it be? BT gives us the opportunity to take ‘volunteer days’ - a chance to do something in the community; so this year I’ve been a mentor at the first NI BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp in partnership with Queen’s University. It was such a rewarding event, working with young people, watching them grow and prepare for their business pitch to the panel. I wish every business person in Northern Ireland would mentor one young person, inspire them and show them how exciting it can be, and how many opportunities there are on our doorstep.

Are you a big fan of tech websites and social media? I love watching TedTalks as there are so many great speakers and stories on there. I also love Twitter for keeping in touch with what’s trending and getting fast access to the latest news and stories globally. We’re lucky in Northern Ireland to be at forefront of Europe for superfast broadband speeds and availability – it’s now become an essential part of our daily lives.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in their career? Learn and perfect your core work area first, but be curious about the company you’re working for – think about that bigger picture! Be the ‘best version of you’ you can be and finally, don’t forget to make time for life outside the workplace – it’s all about that balance. For further information on exciting new roles in BT check out 9

The road to

belfast Sinead McLaughlin, Chief Executive of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, talks about transport and asks for a decent road connection to Belfast.

September’s Danske Bank/Londonderry Chamber of Commerce North West Business Debate was a big success, with a large attendance from local businesses and a high quality discussion about how to improve the economy of our subregion. One theme dominated the lunchtime event: the poverty of our road connection with Belfast.


similar call emerged in October from the CBI in its plan for action to improve the Northern Ireland economy. At the heart of its demands lay two projects – the A6 and A5 upgrades to improve the North West’s connectivity with Belfast and Dublin. In private, many of Northern Ireland’s most senior decision-makers say similar things. ‘Why on earth,’ they typically ask, ‘is there not a good road between Belfast and Derry?’ Yet their dismay at the absence of an adequate road connection between Northern Ireland’s two major cities has not translated into the action needed to build it. That gap between recognising what needs to be done and taking the necessary decisions is symptomatic of the culture of government in Northern Ireland that causes serious problems for our businesses. For transport and logistics companies, the delays at Dungiven, Moneynick, Castledawson, the Glenshane Pass and elsewhere delay their journeys, adding cost and unreliability. For owners and managers, it means that a short meeting in Belfast can require almost a full day out of the office. For potential investors, it can produce a reaction of surprise – and not making the visit to see what our city can offer. That message was emphasised at the North West Business Debate by recent arrival, Professor Paddy Nixon, the new Vice Chancellor of Ulster University. Professor Nixon was forthright in his criticisms not only of Derry’s road connections, but also of the gaps


in telecommunications coverage in parts of the route between the West and the East. Fellow panellist and Finance Minister Arlene Foster listened carefully. As the CBI recognises, improving the road connectivity for Derry, Strabane and Donegal is not merely of absolutely central importance for the economy of the North West – it is actually also essential for the economic well-being of the whole of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. The UK National Infrastructure Plan puts it perfectly: “The quality of a nation’s infrastructure is one of the foundations of its rate of growth and the living standards of its people.” To rephrase this in the negative, the poor quality of the infrastructure of the North West of Northern Ireland is a key reason for poor growth, high unemployment and significant deprivation. The same applies to Donegal. What would an improved A6 mean for us? Our businesses would become more productive; it would increase the travel-to-work area and so make the labour market more efficient; it would extend market size for businesses not just in the North West, but also in the East; and it would help to make our sub-region financially independent. In addition, a major road improvement scheme would of itself help to revitalise the construction industry. The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce has a strong message for our politicians. Make government here work. And in doing so, give us a decent road connection with Belfast.

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is key to further growth Toni Forrester, Chief Executive of Letterkenny Chamber writes


ver the last 18 months we have experienced an improvement in the economy and are starting to see companies expanding, investing and hiring. The domestic economy is feeling the effect of this and there is a much needed positivity in County Donegal. However there is an imbalance in regional development with economic activity and government investment being skewed to the east of the country. The Chamber and others representing the business community have highlighted the disparity in regional development for many years with the main concerns being the transport networks, broadband and the electricity supply.

Eirgrid and Government departments need to step up to provide this region with the necessary infrastructure to help us all deliver on our ambitions for the people of Donegal. In terms of transport networks we will continue to lobby government on the A5/N4 the main road linking Donegal with Dublin. Bearing in mind there is little in the way of public transport and no rail network this route is a vital link for businesses whose customers are based in Dublin or mainland Europe. The funding for this road and the County roads linking to it 12

became casualities of the recent cuts but we remain hopeful that this strategic route will commence in the medium term. Telecoms and broadband are of vital importance to businesses in all sectors and to all citizens. Letterkenny, is well served with a high speed resilient broadband network. However the speeds available in rural Donegal are in fact just one mile from the centre are very poor. Government has set targets in this regard but it remains imperative that all citizens are connected to a high speed, resilient and value for money broadband no matter where their location. The biggest concern in terms of infrastructure that has been highlighted recently is the electricity supply. Eirgrid recently launched their 10 year plan and the North West has been completely discounted being left to deal with 110kv while other areas of the country have for many years enjoyed 320kv supply. While we are assured that the supply is adequate for current demands, the situation remains if an existing business wanted to build a data centre or we were able to attract new investment, the supply would not be able to cope. Over the past 15 years the Council and key stakeholders have worked hard to make this area one of the best connected in terms of telecoms. Project Kelvin was in place to ensure we had the telecoms infrastructure to attract large businesses but it seems there is a lack of joined up thinking. The omission of Donegal in the Eirgrid strategy means that it is being left behind as a region. The upgrade to the 110kv grid infrastructure that was recently completed did take a number of years to get through

the planning process making any new improvements difficult but just because something is difficult should not mean it is not done. Donegal is in competition with other areas to attract investment and it has been successful to date but we are at a distinct disadvantage if we cannot guarantee the electricity supply. The County Council, elected representatives, businesses and Donegal people, have the ambition and aspiration to develop the whole County and are doing everything in their control to achieve their goals. Eirgrid and Government departments need to step up to provide this region with the necessary infrastructure to help us all deliver on our ambitions for the people of Donegal.

Over the last 18 months we have experienced an improvement in the economy and are starting to see companies expanding, investing and hiring.







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n operation since 1946, Hegarty’s Home Interiors, is a family owned and run business located in the picturesque seaside town of Buncrana, County Donegal. Established by James Edward Hegarty, the shop was set up to provide the people of Buncrana with high quality goods at cost effective prices. The store is a treasure trove of departments which include flooring, furniture, giftware, kitchenware, and electrical and audio/visual equipment. Now, Hegarty’s operates from a 25,000 sq foot department store in its original location on Upper Main Street in Buncrana, expanding the range of goods available to customers, and even adding a Christmas showroom for the festive period. Hegarty’s Home Interiors now develops approximately 50% of their goods in house, sourcing high quality materials and fabrics all over the world, from China, Poland, Malaysia, Vietnam and Germany. After sourcing the best materials, the team at Hegarty’s Home Interiors then develops their own products for sale in store and online. Hegarty’s buy materials in bulk which secures the best possible price and allows them to pass on the lower cost to the consumer. Operating throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland has been essential to the success of the business, which has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Offering a competitive rate for the Pound, Hegarty’s attract customers from Northern Ireland, not only online, but in store too – which has helped to keep the company competitive. Coupled with fantastic customer service, Hegarty’s Home Interiors is the one-stop, local interior department store. 13

Northern Ireland a key Market for Sioen Ireland, Gweedore, County Donegal Sioen Ireland is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sioen Industries, Belgium. Sioen Industries is the leading European manufacturer of technical textiles and personal protective clothing to the highest certification of European Norms i.e. EN/ISO Standards.


ioen Ireland is located in Gweedore Business Park, Derrybeg, County Donegal supplying an extensive range of foul weather and multinorm protective clothing and Mullion life-saving equipment.

protection, high visibility clothing, flame retardant, electric arc and forestry protection for many different sectors including Marine, Agriculture, Emergency Services, State Agencies and Local Authorities.

Sioen brands include Flexothane™ and SIOPOR SEPP™, foul weather clothing, SIP™ Chainsaw protective clothing and Mullion™, sea survival protective clothing. Sioen also manufactures a range of protective body armour SAT™ for Law Enforcement, Security and Emergency Services Personnel.

The Mullion range of personal flotation devices (life jackets) are supplied to the skippers and crew of the commercial fishing fleet and Loughs aquaculture fishermen in Northern Ireland.

Sioen Ireland supplies personal protective equipment through our Professional Safety Trading Partners, Distributors and Wholesalers based in Northern Ireland. The Sioen range is extensively in use across Northern Ireland in high performance foul weather


The PFDs are supplied as part of a joint safety initiative, funded by DARD through the European Fisheries Fund, managed by Seafish and supported by a wide range of project partners including the Fishermen’s Mission, the RNLI, H.M. Coastguard, the Cross Border Aquaculture Initiative and the Loughs Agency as well as the local aquaculture industry.

The supply of the Mullion Compact Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs), is part of a wider programme being rolled out across the UK and Ireland. This scheme is aimed at the commercial fishing fleet and aquaculture workers in Northern Ireland. The offshore commercial fishermen were issued their personal flotation devices under the same government scheme by SEAFISH with the additional support of ASDA Supermarket Group. Sioen Ireland is closely involved with the fishermen in creating and developing innovative designs in PFDs which enable fishermen to work on deck in the comfort and safety. The Mullion range also includes specialist flotation and immersion suits and PFDs for offshore exploration oil, gas and wind energy workers. Some PFDs are designed to include personal locator beacons (PLPs) to alert the Rescue Services in ‘man overboard’ incidents.

Through a government Enhanced Safety Scheme in the Republic of Ireland, Mullion designed an innovative solution to supply a Compact life jacket incorporating a PLB housed within the cover for crews on deck on the smaller inshore potters and netters where there are only single or double crew members on board. Investment in Health & Safety is a major cost across all sectors of industry and commerce. Spending over €20 million annually in Certification, Research and Development, Sioen Industries provide innovative PPE solutions for workers whether in extreme or benign hazardous working environments across all industries. For more information Contact: Adrian Towey, Sales Manager Sioen Ireland.



in business for 150 years


ince establishing as Millwrights, based in St. Johnston, Donegal in 1860, the five generations of Fleming family have been providing engineering solutions for over 150 years. The company now provides Roller Door and Powder Coating Steel solutions to the Irish manufacturing and agricultural market both North and South.

“At Fleming we hope to be the most efficient we can be and continue on the customer focused path that has kept us strongly in business for over 150 years.�

The modern day company, founded by James Fleming in 1985, began as solely a steel and roofing distribution and trading centre for the North West. In 1999 the Rolling Door Company (now Fleming Doors) was purchased, and in 2010, Fleming Coatings was established. Fleming Steel has provided the largest range of steel stock in the North West of Ireland for over 25 years, servicing the commercial, agricultural, engineering and construction customer segment, whilst Fleming Doors established itself as a top tier manufacturer and maintenance and installation provider for the door market in Donegal and Northern Ireland. Fleming Coating is a centre of excellence for providing powder coating to the industrial, commercial and construction sectors. Managing Director, Andrew Fleming has a unique insight into the trends and relative strengths and weaknesses of the market: “There has been a change of emphasis to being lean and efficient. With renewed competitiveness, there are opportunities for growth in the North West area, however improvements in transport networks and in broadband outside the urban centres will be vital to our ongoing success.

Why not visit our new website at...

...complete with information on all products & services available at Fleming. St. Johnston, Co. Donegal, Ireland ROI: +353 (0)74 9148234 NI: +44 (0)28 71342949 Email: 16

PACKAGING SUCCESS Diamond Corrugated continues to be one of Northern Ireland’s most successful SMEs.


ackaging has been in the Diamond family for four generations with over 70 years steeped in the packaging tradition they remain a privately owned and independent company. This tradition brings with it a wealth of experience and passion which is fundamental to their success. With a wellearned reputation as one of the most dynamic and progressive companies in the corrugated industry, Diamond Corrugated, is proud to be Ireland’s largest independent sheet conversion plant. Operating from 130,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing and warehousing facilities across two sites they offer a unique and complete packaging service. As a customer focused organisation they combine state-of-the-art capital equipment, technology and process with the responsiveness, flexibility and entrepreneurial spirit of an independent company. Diamond Corrugated remains a family-run business based in Derry and has a growing base of high profile customers throughout Ireland. The company is a major manufacturer of bespoke corrugated cases for a broad range of sectors including food, pharmaceutical, aerospace and the drinks industry. Established as a limited company in 1973, the business initially manufactured solid board packaging for the textile industry which was dominant at the time within the North West area. In the early 1980s Diamond Corrugated began the journey of diversification into the corrugated sector under the leadership of the current Managing Director, Paul Diamond. Since then

“We currently produce over 30 million units per year and our objective is to add an additional 40 per cent volume within the next few years.” the company has enjoyed steady growth despite the decline in its traditional textile market and the overall decline in general manufacturing. Today Diamond Corrugated is considered a major player in Ireland’s packaging sector as it continues to grow through its dynamic and innovative style. Diamond Corrugated continues to expand successfully in a market place once dominated by multi–nationals. The reason for their success is a combination of exploiting niche market opportunities, exceptional customer service, manufacturing flexibility, multiskilled and highly motivated workforce together with strong management leadership. Paul Diamond firmly believes that the company’s ongoing success is rooted in their continuous investment in leading edge technology and the on-going development of their staff. “Our growth strategy has enabled us to broaden production processes, increase our overall competitiveness and to position ourselves as an attractive supplier to existing and potential new markets in this increasingly demanding economy. 17

DuPont’s Maydown site has long been held as a plant of some standing within the global DuPont family. Their efficient systems and time saving process improvements have been hailed as examples of best practice with other plants encouraged to follow their lead.

The Importance of Kevlar® to DuPont


he plant hosts other teams from plants across the world who come to the Maydown site to learn just what makes them such a success.

They are one of the regions most sustained and dedicated employers and their community outreach programmes – such as science and maths awards for schools and cash donations for local charities – have been a feature of their support locally for many years. Paul Kirkpatrick, DuPont, said: “Like most global industries, we’ve had to tighten our belts over the last number of years but the on-going investment in our staff, research and development and our infrastructure is testament to the success being achieved at the plant locally and by Kevlar®, globally.”


Kevlar®, invented by DuPont scientist Stephanie Kwolek in 1965, is extraordinarily strong, lightweight and on an equal-weight basis, five times stronger than steel. It is best known for its use in protective garments worn by men and women who face danger in their jobs, such as fire fighters, where its lightness and toughness makes it easier and less restrictive to wear as well as stronger and more durable. “The importance of Kevlar® to DuPont, and to the world, cannot be underestimated as it continues to secure employment at its sites, in turn, supporting commerce at local level and encouraging trading around the world. Its diverse number of uses means that Kevlar® is used by a myriad of different industries helping to maintain a robust level of business globally,” said Paul.

Thinking about taking the plunge with a distributor? Top tips and handy hints from Philip Gilliland The reality with all commercial partnerships is that both parties evolve at different paces and frequently in unaligned directions.


ormer President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, Derry-native, Philip Gilliland, Managing Partner at Caldwell & Robinson explains how a business owner can realign the commercial partnerships for the benefit of both parties, and underlines which steps should be taken to ensure your safety. Caldwell & Robinson works with many Northern Irish manufacturers selling through distributors both at home and abroad. As members of the elite network, ‘Aviro Advocati’, Caldwell & Robinson provides their clients with instant access to specialist legal services in multiple jurisdictions, throughout the world. In part, thanks to Managing Partner at Caldwell & Robinson, Philip, whom is also the Chair of Aviro Advocati, and Director of the Northern Ireland Science Park. Working all over the world, Philip Gilliland has held positions in Edinburgh, London, Brussels and Chester, as well as working with developing markets in China, South Asia and Eastern Europe – which has bolstered his working knowledge of large and small-scale distribution. Philip explains that there are some points one may wish to consider before working with a distributor: “Firstly, you must look at pricing. What parameters do you want to put on the distributor’s resale pricing policy? The EU places some restrictions on resale pricing, but most non-EU countries don’t. In addition, what minimum sales obligation do you want them to reach? What sanction do you want to impose if they fail to achieve this, for example termination and/or loss of exclusivity? What is his territory? Some target markets are geographically too large for one distributor alone to realistically penetrate. Is he your sole sales channel in the territory, or do you want to have the right to sell

directly to that territory from, say, your catalogue or internet site? Do you want to link this to a minimum sales obligation? “These few questions simply scratch the surface. Contractual details such as territory, whether or not distributors have the right to sell new products, technical compliance, warranty policies, length of arrangement or what happens in the event of termination of contract. An expert in distribution law and regulations, before finishing, Philip leaves us with one final message that he reiterates as incredibly important, not only regarding distribution, but across the board in all aspects of business law: “Prevention is better than cure!”

“You wouldn’t choose to drive your car without insurance on the basis that you probably won’t crash, or not to have house insurance on the basis that you probably won’t get burgled or have a burst pipe. When a crossroads in a business relationship occurs, you will want to reach for the equivalent of the car or house insurance policy – the examined and legally correct distribution agreement, which you drafted with your lawyer at the beginning of the relationship.” 19

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Gallagher & McKinney Ltd

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erry / Londonderry based engineering company Gallagher & McKinney Ltd is an engineering solutions company specialising in the Mechanical Engineering sector. Formed in 1979, the company has clients across multiple sectors, including; the Data Centre Builds, Water, Waste and Energy Sector, Pharmaceutical, Food and Beverage and SemiConductor Industries. Focussing on; pipework, orbital welding, structural steel work, vessel and steel fabrication work and project management, Gallagher & McKinney Ltd have worked on some of the biggest projects in Europe. These include the; Beckton Sewage Treatment Works, London, the Diageo Plant, Dublin, Intel Ireland and closer to home, Seagate Technology Ireland, Derry / Londonderry. Gallagher & McKinney Ltd have recently expanded from the UK and Ireland market into the European market, in

particular, the Netherlands, which brought an inroad to the New Data Centre Builds across Europe. Retaining a full-time team of highly-skilled Pipe Fabricators, Metal Fabricators and Coded Welders in our Workshops, Gallagher & McKinney Ltds onsite activities and installations are carried out by a dedicated team of fully-trained tradesmen, with senior staff comprising of Workshop and Site Supervisors, Sketchers/Cad Draftsmen, Quantity Surveyors and Project Managers. Recently, the company has won multiple industry awards, including; GMK Awarded Anaerobic Digestion Build at Hoddesdon, England, GMK Awarded CUB Plantroom Build at Alexion, Athlone, Ireland and GMK Awarded DN900 Pipework D&R and Replacement at Stillorgan Reservoir, Dublin, Ireland – underlining the company as one of the best in the industry.

9 Carrakeel Drive Maydown Ind. Est. Derry

Tel: 028 7186 1068 Website:

Pipework Orbital Welding Structural Steel work Vessel & Steel Fabrication Project Management

Pipework Orbital Welding Structural Steel work Vessel & Steel Fabrication Project Management

Gallagher & McKinney Ltd. 9 Carrakeel Drive Maydown Ind. Est. Derry Tel: 028 7186 1068 Website: SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS Can you lift logos from bottom of home page on website – British Safety Council, SSG, Ukas, Safe Cert, Constructiononline. Plus can you design advert similar to website style. This advert can be designed according to available space on page – ½ page or less.


Entrepreneurs of the Year Malachy Connor and Liam Gallagher, of AE Global, are Entrepreneurs of the Year


Global, formerly Allpipe Engineering Ltd, was founded in 1994 by Malachy Connor and Liam Gallagher, along with three colleagues who have since left the business. Today Malachy and Liam continue to run the company and are in charge of its strong growth trajectory. Following a £1m expansion plan launched at the beginning of this year, the company now has 130 employees – a remarkable increase on the workforce of just a year ago. AE Global is located at Maydown and is a mechanical and electrical company, offering a range of mechanical and electrical services. The company recently rebranded as AE Global, in recognition of its growing position in the electrical sector, where it services the same industries as the mechanical division with the commercial and renewables sectors key new targets. The engineering client base includes some of the world’s largest and most prestigious chemical, pharmaceutical, energy and manufacturing companies. As AE Global, the business hopes to expand further. Its five year growth strategy is focused on breaking into new markets – servicing pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare clients – with growth focused on the electrical services division. Liam and Malachy are Derry born and bred, with strong family values and have a genuine caring family work environment. They are very caring to their community too. The business operates on the basis of its strong reputation for safety, quality and customer service, responding flexibly to customer demand. It is accredited to an integrated safety, quality and


environmental management system have a highly motivated and qualified management and staff. Last year, celebrating its 20th anniversary, AE Global opened its new headquarters in Maydown and this year it opened its first satellite office, in London, where it has a rapidly growing customer base. AE Global expanded during the recession, focusing on training its staff and taking on new apprentices – investing in its trained workforce and so being able to take advantage when the economy began to recover. That commitment is now bearing fruit.

AE Global were also among the winners in the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Occupational Health and Safety Awards 2015. The Gold award has been received in the prestigious annual scheme run by RoSPA. Kieran Connor, Chief Operations Officer, said: “The RoSPA award is the top health and safety benchmark for our Industry. AE Global are proud to be awarded this prestigious award and we believe it is due recognition of the company’s proactive systems and processes along with our workforce’s commitment in striving to achieve zero incidents and injuries in any business we undertake.”

The Sky really is the limit for

Cutting Edge Helicopters


utting Edge Helicopters Ltd is owned and operated by local entrepreneur and pilot, Jason Porter, who established the company at City of Derry Airport in 2008, as a helicopter pilot training school. Passionate about flying and, despite starting the business at the cusp of the world recession and banking crisis, Jason has worked hard and invested heavily in developing the business. Showcasing the North West, our world famous North Coast and Donegal through selected helicopter

tours, Cutting Edge Helicopters Ltd has introduced thousands of people to the experience of helicopter flight by offering short, affordable flights at various events around Northern Ireland. In addition to offering Corporate and VIP transfer flights in Ireland, Jason also provides aerial filming and commercial flights for a range of Public and Private Sector customers. The firm’s latest work was on the One Show’s 40 Shades of Green programme that aired in October. In addition, the company offers Fly-Dine and Fly-Drive experiences, as well as

transporting customers to various sporting events. Cutting Edge Helicopters Ltd maintains its core ethos of introducing people to helicopter flight through pilot training has successfully trained a number of pilots who have gone on to achieve commercial licences. Two of these pilots now fly with Cutting Edge Helicopters Ltd and a third works with a North Sea oil company. The flexibility of the helicopter offers endless possibilities for businesses, tourism, cross-border links and private customers.

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Bronagh Gormley (front centre), SSE Community Liaison Officer, pictured with third level students from Co. Londonderry and Co. Tyrone who are recipients of the SSE Airtricity Scholarship. Valued at around £100,000 annually, the SSE Airtricity Scholarship is powered by the Regional Fund from SSE’s Slieve Kirk Wind Park, Co. Londonderry.

SSE – powering investment in the North West Since it entered the Northern Ireland energy market in 2008, SSE plc has helped to transform the energy market here becoming the largest provider of wind power to homes and businesses and investing over half a billion pounds so far in Northern Ireland’s energy future.



nd the company, which is the UK and Ireland’s broadest-based energy utility and NI’s second biggest energy supplier with a 30% market share, is continuing to invest. In the last year alone, SSE Airtricity announced the creation of over 100 new jobs at its new Belfast Contact Centre and Corporate HQ; it continued to expand its burgeoning energy services business; and it unveiled a ten-year naming rights partnership at The SSE Arena, Belfast. Here in the North West the company launched its second annual £100,000 Scholarship Fund for students in Londonderry and Tyrone going on to third level education at Ulster University and South West College; it sponsored the Walled City Marathon for the third year running; and it unveiled plans to add to its existing 88MW wind farm portfolio with an exciting development pipeline of renewable energy projects already under construction or in planning. “At the heart of everything we do at SSE Airtricity is our core purpose - to provide the energy people need in a reliable and sustainable way,” Paul Cooley, SSE plc’s Director of Renewables and Derry native, says. “We’re proud that we are in a position to provide the energy our customers need to live and work, and that we are playing our part to help create a cleaner, lower carbon economy for future generations by investing in the right greener energy projects. That’s why we are passionate about our continued expansion and growth for the long term here in Northern Ireland.”

“New wind farm projects can secure ‘green data centre’ investment into NI and the North West” Of course SSE’s investment here all begins with the wind that blows across our land. Before the company had an energy supply business, it was first and foremost a renewable energy developer. That heritage remains very much at the heart of the company’s generation development focus in NI and in its development pipeline particularly here in the North West. Within two years SSE will add another 40MW of wind power generation to its operational portfolio. It is currently constructing the 32MW Tievenameenta Wind Farm in Co. Tyrone, due to be commissioned in 2017, and has planning consent for a 9MW extension to its Slieve Kirk Wind Park in Co. Londonderry which it expects will bring the total installed capacity at the site to 83MW in the same year. Building on this construction pipeline SSE has plans for a £150million wind farm at Doraville in the Sperrins, a planning application for which has been submitted to the Department of the Environment. The proposed 36 turbine Doraville Wind Farm could generate 115MW of green electricity and would be the country’s largest wind park, with the potential to power around 100,000 homes across NI. As a responsible developer SSE has always been focused on selecting the right renewable energy projects that not only deliver on the company’s generation objectives but that also deliver an economic and social dividend return to the communities in which each of its projects are located. The company believes wind farm developments should act as key drivers for the local economy and it works hard to ensure those benefits are delivered to the local community and local economy. An independent study by BiGGAR Economics for SSE estimates that its Doraville project can inject £50million into NI supply chain businesses during development and construction, around £16million of that investment can be poured directly into the local council area. Once operational, the wind farm can generate further revenues for the region over its 25 year lifetime of over £60million as well as community benefit funding over the same period of a further £15million. This level of social and economic dividend is borne out by SSE’s track record through the delivery of its Slieve Kirk Wind Park outside Derry-Londonderry. During the construction phase SSE spent a total of £36million directly with 75 local supply chain businesses in the North West, supporting community jobs and enterprise. With the site now operational Slieve Kirk is generating more than power – it is fuelling an economic return

Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness and Paul Cooley, SSE plc’s Director of Renewables, at the opening of SSE’s Slieve Kirk Wind Park in Co. Londonderry. During construction SSE spent a total of £36million directly with 75 local supply chain businesses in the North West, supporting community jobs and enterprise.

for the North West. Over its 25 year lifetime SSE will pay out another £18.5million locally in commercial rates, landowner leases, and community and regional funding. Indeed in the last two years, Slieve Kirk has contributed over half a million pounds in funding, directly supporting community energy efficiency projects, as well as providing grant aid to students from Londonderry and Tyrone going to Ulster University and South West College through the SSE Airtricity Scholarship, funded by the Slieve Kirk Regional Fund. “This is a social investment and community support model that we’re proud to champion at SSE,” Paul Cooley says. “We have demonstrated our commitment to local communities from the development of our very first wind farm here in Northern Ireland, and we’ll continue to do so with all future developments including our proposed wind farm at Doraville.” The potential economic return to the North West is not just limited to direct developer investment however. The announcement in the Republic earlier this year by US technology giant Apple that it is seeking proposals from renewable energy developers to power its new data centre in rural Galway signals a significant investment opportunity which Northern Ireland should be seeking to exploit, as Paul Cooley points out. “We know tech companies like Apple will locate multimillion pound data centres in locations where they can access green power sources. We also know there are estimates that this ‘green data centre’ push could add up to 1GW to renewable energy demand on the island of Ireland in the next five years. At SSE we believe that Northern Ireland and in particular the North West can lead this push. New wind farm projects such as Doraville will not only deliver regional jobs and investment directly associated with the wind farm, but they can also be the anchor that secures ‘green data centre’ investment into NI and the North West by the tech giants.” 25

Stay connected

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‘We are a company of change. In changing we grow. In growing we evolve. In evolving, we transform. In transforming, we make the difference.’

Sphere Global

The World of Robotics Sean McNicholl talks to editor, Jackie Logan, about his company, innovation and solutions. 27

“They can’t build them fast enough and this is where Sphere Global and robots come into play.”


ean McNicholl, originally from Limavady, has been around the world once or twice having spent over 18 years designing state-of-the-art solutions for many global brands. Returning to Northern Ireland in 2009 he has set down roots and started his own business with only four employees in the first month. Having rebranded to Sphere Global and now operating in 18 countries, Sean is set on changing the way that business is done by the use of smart software, robotics and innovation in any number of sectors from pharma to construction. Sean talks at ease but his love of finding solutions to problems along with innovation is the key to his business. He says: “Anybody that comes to us, comes with a problem – it starts as a sketch, then it becomes a factory layout, then it converts into a 3D layout, so everyone in the company can understand what is happening with the project at any stage. In Sphere Global, everything is done in house; the electrical design, the mechanical design, the software design, the welding, all of the building is done here too.” From design to the final product Sphere Global is what you would call a one stop shop but one which is very different and where the products are those that most of us can only imagine. Their customers are no ordinary customers, visitors arrive from all over the globe, a financial director of one of the largest electronic consumer brands from the US to Royalty from Saudi Arabia, to name but two. This is the norm for Sphere Global. Now based in 70,000 sq ft site in an industrial estate in Campsie, the company’s first contract in 2009 was worth £11m, which was the catalyst to spring boarding the company.


Listening to Sean is like watching a television programme about the future of business where technology and innovation is at the heart of the business. It is exceptionally hard to believe that what Sphere Global and Sean McNicholl are doing is actually happening and taking place in the North West of Northern Ireland. There are no other words than to say it is extremely impressive if not phenomenal that the technology and solutions that he and his team are designing and implementing is changing how business is done across the world. It is quite clear Sean McNicholl is a solutions man. With statements like “we are the first company to put robots into the construction trade” and “in Dubai we are helping to build 14,000 villas and releasing five villas a day,” it’s hard to comprehend and grasp the fact that this is reality.

“Over there is the fastest box opener in the world – it opens 600 boxes an hour – we’ve just looked at a new design as the industry continues to push us – so we tripled this speed!” Sphere Global is building a total of eight factories for one client, for another they are designing how robots can tile, weld and build so that they can put together one room as one block and build a complete building. Sean continues; “In India they are spending £4 trillion in the next four years as they need 52 hospitals and 52

schools each year. They can’t build them fast enough and this is where Sphere Global and robots come into play. We are building 10 mega factories for our client where each cell or room is built completely by robots and each room becomes a building block.” Moving on to another aspect within the factory Sean talks about automation and the necessity for speed. We all know the old adage ‘time is money’ and this is very true for Sphere Global and their clients.

“We are the first company to put robots into the construction trade.” “This is the fastest storage retrieval system that there is in the world. These [metal structures] can retrieve six pieces of products every 10secs. It runs at 70mph, stops up and down at various locations – this is about high density storage and it pulls and retracts very, very fast. There is nothing like this in the market, we continually break the trend and design something faster. “Over there, there is the fastest box opener in the world – it opens 600 boxes an hour – we’ve just looked at a new design as the industry continues to push us – so we tripled this speed!” As Sean tells me about each revolutionary project I wonder whether this man will ever stop continually coming up with new ideas but the truth is I truly believe that he’s only just got started. From utopia glass factories where robots lift the glass, optimise the cutting of it, toughen it, frame it, pack it and send to the back of the factory for distribution – so even if you turn the lights off the factory it is still working – to baby food and machines which ensure the right food goes in the right can, three children were killed last year with the wrong food in the wrong can, and there are six cans, which are validated for weight, density, barcode, to the colour of the lids, going through the line every second.

With over 70 employees Sean puts Sphere Global’s success rate down to organic growth. His independent company ensures he is self sufficient and continues to grow in sales with an expectation for over 100 employees in 2016. But it is the lack of space that is at the forefront of his mind and he looks to nearby Ballykelly’s Shackleton Barracks as somewhere where he can develop his company and continue to work on life changing technologies through innovation and partnership. He wants to be able to give back and mentions that he intends to work alongside the Northern Ireland Science Park and build the largest research and development robotics facility in Europe. He also wants to bring the supply chain closer to him and help them grow. Reinvesting in the community is something he also takes seriously with engagement with schools by his staff directly every quarter. Sphere Global works with some fabulous and outstanding well known brands across varied sectors, across the globe and at home, but it’s his own brand that he’s most proud of having curtailed his staff to two constant days in the boardroom before agreeing on ‘Sphere Global’. “Our brand is a tree, a face and a light bulb; it’s about partnership, represented by the face, growth represented by the tree and innovation represented by the light bulb. This is about what we can do to add value to our clients – we change our solution to adapt to our client’s business needs. Innovation is the key to what we are doing and every year we bring three or four new products to the market.”

“Just because someone is not doing does not mean it cannot be done.”

For Sean this is all about adding value – what he and his company can do better, quicker with robots, automation and the right software. In the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector Sphere Global is on the precipice of revolutionising healthcare where they have a Patient Medical Record system ready for market. Drugs can be tracked through automation and the government can be told how much it is spending; pharmaceutical companies can be told what drugs are good or bad and patients would be texted to remind them to take their medication – all remarkable in the context of saving money and and lives.


New Flexible MBA options support Managers in the North West Managers in the North West who plan to further develop their management and leadership know-how have a new option open to them. From January 2016 Ulster University Business School at Magee will offer a more flexible life-long learning opportunity in the form of a ‘Mini MBA’.

Edel Griffin MBA Course Director, explains: “Demand for MBA places has grown with our current participants coming from a diverse range of management backgrounds including manufacturing, health, technology, professional services, business owners and entrepreneurs. Joining the MBA has opened up new opportunities for managers from across the region to learn with like-minded people who are interested in developing their management and leadership capacity.”

Employers can use the Mini MBA option to structure the full MBA into smaller awards, perhaps linked to career progression and further supporting their strategic approaches to talent management and management development. Applications are now open for a January 2016 start. The Ulster University Business School at Magee is currently accepting applications to both the MBA full-time and the ‘Mini MBA’ programme options which have been designed to provide managers with time out from the day-to-day pressures of running a business to focus on the strategic direction of their business and how they can get there.

“For busy professionals who may wish to experience the MBA learning community but may not have time to complete the full programme, we have launched the new Mini MBA which offers a much more flexible and user-friendly approach to gaining this prestigious postgraduate qualification.” The Mini MBA allows participants to gain a Postgraduate Certificate in Business Administration after completing 4 modules. The modules are delivered over 3 day blocks and cover core areas including: managing and leading people; economics and finance for business; innovation and marketing. In addition the MBA programme options offers excellent teaching, career progression and networking opportunities supporting the Magee MBA learning community.


To find out more about the Mini MBA, contact:

Edel Griffin MBA Course Director Ulster University Business School Magee campus or tel 028 7167 5196 (NI) / 048 7167 5196 (ROI) Closing date for applications is Friday 15 January 2016.

Master of Business Administration Inspiring Change – Transforming Business Are you an experienced business professional seeking management education, career progression and new networks? The Ulster MBA programme options will provide you with the opportunity to learn the most up-to-date management techniques with like-minded individuals from a wide range of industry backgrounds. Delivered over 3 day module blocks, the MBA empowers participants to take the time out to self-reflect and challenge current practices through the lens of evidence based research. Option 1 Postgraduate Certificate in Business Administration (Mini MBA) • Part-Time completed over 4 module blocks or Option 2 Master of Business Administration • Part-Time completed over 10 module blocks + final project Key Features • Management and Leadership Education • Supportive Learning Networks • Personal & Career Development • Commencing January 2016

For further information contact Edel Griffin, MBA Course Director; Ulster University Business School, Magee campus at or t: 028 7167 5196 (NI) / 048 7167 5196 (ROI) Apply Now: Closing date for applications: Friday 15th January 2016 31


The North West:

Up for the challenge By Angela McGowan, Chief Economist at Danske Bank

Northern Ireland’s economy will grow at a moderate rate of 2 per cent in 2015 and 2.2 per cent in 2016, with employment levels expected to rise moderately.


n the short-term an increase in household spending power, driven by low inflation and improving real wages, will help to support growth. In addition, strong corporate finances and sustained strength in house building will both provide direct support to the local economy. However, downside risks are emerging. Political uncertainty locally and the UK’s potential exit from the EU could defer investment decisions, while the global economic slowdown also has implications for local exporters, manufacturing and investment. It has been good to see a number of leading indicators continue to improve during Quarter 2 and Quarter 3. We have seen positive movements in the Index of Construction, the Index of Services and the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index. House prices have been rising too and although price levels in the Derry and Strabane District Council area were static during Quarter 2 overall values in this region were still 7 per cent higher relative to the previous year. Interestingly, consumer confidence for Northern Ireland experienced a dent in Quarter 2 this year, but saw a strong rebound during Quarter 3. This could be attributed to lower fuel and energy prices, improved credit flows and low interest rates. The Danske Bank Confidence Index for all of Northern Ireland rose to 142 in Quarter 3 2015 and indeed the sub-index for the North West rose from 134 in Quarter 2 to 140 during Quarter 3. The bank’s survey revealed that households in the North West were less negative around their current financial position compared to 12 months ago and also less pessimistic about their job security.

relatively high unemployment rate and higher than average inactivity rate. For Northern Ireland as a whole there will, as always, be some variation in how firms and sectors perform in the year ahead. Danske Bank’s latest Quarterly Sectoral Forecast report sets out its sectoral forecasts as follows: Best performing sectors The highest growth sectors in 2015 include: ICT (5.4 per cent), Administration & Support Services (4.2 per cent), Hospitality (3.8 per cent), Wholesale & Retail (3.7 per cent), Professional and Scientific Services (3.6 per cent), Transport & Storage (2.8 per cent) and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (2.5 per cent). Moderate growth sectors Moderate growth is also expected for the construction and manufacturing sectors both of which should grow by just over 2 per cent this year and next. Shrinking sectors The agri-food sector has encountered a perfect storm this year in terms of rising supply of commodities, reduced demand from China and emerging markets, a strong pound and high operating costs. This sector is expected to contract by 1.4 per cent this year and indeed better times are not forecast for the agri sector until the middle of 2016 at the earliest. In addition, the public sector is expected to contract – particularly public administration.

As the new super-council for Derry and Strabane gets to grips with its increased powers for economic development it will soon start designing a carefully tailored economic and industrial plan that chimes in with Northern Ireland’s overarching Economic Strategy. It is unlikely that the economic fortunes in the North West will be dramatically different from the rest of Northern Ireland in the short-term. However, by addressing barriers to growth as soon as possible, this region will be in a better position to tackle its 33


Be smart and act quickly or you risk finishing up in Room 101

Conor Devine, principal of property advisory partnership, GDP, reflects on the difficulties which companies face if their property loans are sold.


he well known radio and television series, Room 101, has been in the offing since 1992. In the show celebrities are invited to discuss their pet hates and persuade the host to consign them to oblivion in Room 101. The name is inspired by the torture room of the novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ which reputedly contained the ‘worst thing in the world’. George Orwell named it after a meeting in Broadcasting House where he would sit through tedious meetings. Although I don’t have very many pet hates, there are those in the property sector who would like to consign some things to oblivion in Room 101. Looking at the current Irish property market, the last 18 months have been exceptionally difficult, with over £30bn of par debt property loans having been sold in Ireland. To date NAMA has been to the fore of these transactions, and in the next couple of weeks it’s likely that their latest trade, Project Arrow, which comprises over €7bn of property loans, will take place. We are now entering stage two in the Irish property crisis. Stage one was dominated by NAMA and the Irish banks trying to deal with borrowers. This new phase involves Private Equity companies like Cerberus, Loanstar and Apollo, to name a few, that are dominating what is going on in the real estate markets across the country. In Dublin, property agents are busier now than during the Celtic Tiger and their work is being driven by funds that are trying to off load properties they acquired through the NPL trades.

What does this mean for the borrower? It’s very simple. If your loan has been sold, you have a certain period of time to find a new capital partner to help you retain ownership of your properties and your business. The funds are very powerful, have most of the professional network tied up in the country, so as a borrower you can be on weak ground with limited time to put a proposal together. GDP Capital act for many borrowers who are terrified of losing their properties and their businesses. New funding has been found and allowed some of our clients to refinance away from private equity. Despite what our banks are saying publically, funding and finance is difficult.

Like many things in life, it comes down to knowledge and education. Find a new capital partner, take expert advice from people who have a track record in this space, and get on with it. Do not procrastinate with the funds or you and your business will be consigned to Room 101. By Conor Devine MRICS Principal at GDP Capital Twitter @Conor_Devine @gdp_partnership 35

We know it’s not just your business, it’s your life. The late nights. The weekends. At Ulster Bank, we understand the dedication it takes to run a business today. And we’re ready to match your dedication with the expertise and experience you need to help make your business a success. Get in touch with your local Business Development Manager Leona McNicholl Call: 07736 131041 E-mail: That’s business banking you can live with.

connect at

Help for what matters Important Information Ulster Bank Limited, Registered in Northern Ireland No. R733. Registered Office: 11–16 Donegall Square East, Belfast, BT1 5UB. Member of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial 36 Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, and entered on the Financial Services Register (Registration number 122315). Calls may be recorded.


TO GROW LOCAL BUSINESSES Ciaran McLaughlin, Relationship Manager, Ulster Bank.


ne of the most rewarding aspects of what I do is getting to meet customers face-to-face and hear about their ambitious plans for growth and innovation. From new and growing businesses to larger local firms, one of the common denominators is the care and energy shown for the small details of business operations that might easily be missed – the things that make a customer’s experience just that bit better. Their determination is inspiring for me and for my team. It is a daily reminder that although we deal in the language of finance and business cases, what we’re actually doing is helping people to realise their ambitions and develop projects that have fired their passion and imagination. In order to champion and channel that energy, we’ve put in place the people and products needed to assist in the development of an entrepreneurial local culture. With £1.5bn available to businesses this year, Ulster Bank is determined to support the many great enterprises that exist right across the North West. Our dedicated team of relationship managers has the experience and the expertise needed to support the ambitions of our customers across a wide range of sectors. Our ambition is to be the number one bank for customer service, trust and advocacy by 2020. It’s by building this trust with our customers that we can create more mutually beneficial relationships, providing not just finance but insight into their business areas. This helps us put in place a solid foundation for growth now and in the future. It allows us to be more intuitive and to anticipate their requirements. In turn, we can develop deeper mutual trust. We believe that our approach makes us better at supporting ambition because we understand exactly where it comes from.

Part of delivering this is done by ensuring that the products we offer are easy to understand, are fair, and the process to access them is straightforward. By doing so, we can fully encourage, develop and support aspiring businesses from Ballymena to Derry/Londonderry. With businesses of the calibre of Fleming Agri Products, Milgro and Morans Retail Ltd growing and creating employment – not to mention the recent investment in Northern Ireland by multinational firms - there are real strengths that we can build on, and reasons for optimism about the local economic outlook. This belief in trust and relationship building also means that we look to follow through – from the seed of a start-up idea to recognising the successful outcome. We celebrate the success of those local companies that are standard-bearers for quality in Northern Ireland. We do this through the Ulster Bank Business Achiever Awards. Local companies have been very successful in these awards in the past and I know that there has been a bumper crop of entries across the eight award categories. Winning an Ulster Bank Business Achievers Award is an endorsement of business strategy, a boost for staff morale, and a great marketing opportunity. It is a great staging post on the path of business growth and provides broader awareness and recognition. I look forward to seeing those local companies rewarded for having made a difference for their staff and for their customers. There will always be business challenges to overcome, new opportunities to take advantage of and new markets to break into. At Ulster Bank, we’re always excited to help businesses to take the next step and put their passion into action.




Deborah O’Donnell (ACA), Proprietor & Chartered Accountant



Sarah McGowan, Office Manager

CHANGE: Forget Forgetall allthe the reasons it won’t reasonswhy why it won’t work thethe oneone work&&believe believe reason it will! reasonwhy why it will! 38

Goal Orientated


Charlene McMonagle (ACA), Chartered Accountant

Deborah O’Donnell Chartered Accountants 36 Templemore Business Park DERRY, BT48 0LD Tel: 02871359999 Fax: 03306840790

Chase the vision, not money Love them… or love them, Deborah O’Donnell Chartered Accountants are a no-nonsense accounting firm that’s jargon free and delivered in a relaxed and personal environment. Refreshingly full of personality, Deborah and her team detail how to make the banks work for you, whether you’re an individual, small business or medium enterprise.


ove them or loathe them, banks and financial institutions play a crucial role in nurturing and supporting businesses..

A balanced economy most certainly requires a steady stream of the right kind of funding and, while no one wants a return to sub-prime lending, the current approach of making loan applicants ‘jump through hoops’ is proving somewhat unpopular! The bottom line is you have to make your business an attractive proposition to the bank. You have to present your business in such a way that the bank wants to do business with you.

Banks do not create money for the public good. They too are businesses owned by private shareholders. Their purpose is to make a profit. It’s critical that you know your business inside out, the mechanics of how it works and how internal and external factors impact upon its success. Planning ahead and having up to date numbers is crucial. In 2015 there really are no excuses for not having this information at your fingertips. Depending on your business, cash flow can be improved dramatically just by managing your stock, chasing debtors relentlessly and agreeing better terms

with your creditors. As a business owner however you cannot get bogged down working in your business and lose sight of the bigger picture, i.e. not working on your business. In order to grow you must focus on working on your business.

Remember though if Plan A doesn’t work, there are 25 other letters! F Find a friend – Have you ever thought of introducing a business partner or issuing shares? I I nvest NI – The Small Business Loan Fund is ready and waiting for your call. N N ew markets – Growing your business has never been easier. ANYTHING can be marketed online. A A ngels, business angels that is… are often investors in disguise. N N ew businesses don’t have to go it alone! Get on the Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme for advice, support and some cold hard cash. C C rowd funding – Crowd power is almost as powerful as girl power! E E ngage with people who believe in your dreams, build a successful team and be open to change. Bottom line, the one person who can make your business succeed isn’t an investor, it’s you. 39

INTERTRADEIRELAND HELPS SMES FIND FUNDING FOR GROWTH With the shoots of economic recovery taking hold, SMEs, who may have been cautious about growing their businesses are now starting to look for opportunities to develop their companies.


he challenge of where to find funding for this expansion can often appear daunting. However, the upturn has presented new prospects for funding from some unexpected places. In addition to traditional sources of finance, there are alternative avenues for raising capital which many SMEs may not have considered before including mezzanine finance, private equity, trade credit and invoice discounting. Without financial expertise it may feel like an impossible task to try to work out which is the most suitable route for your company and how to go about accessing these monies. It is therefore no surprise that approximately 40% of firms use their overdraft facility which may not always be cost effective nor prove to be the best solution in the longer term. Whether you are an established business looking for alternative means of Growth Finance, or a high potential start-up or early stage business looking for Seed Funding, Business Angel Investment or Venture Capital Funding, InterTradeIreland can help. In 2015, InterTradeIreland introduced a new initiative called Funding for Growth to make SMEs seeking funding for growth aware of the opportunities that currently exist in both Ireland and Northern Ireland. It also offers advice on their suitability for raising this type of funding and equips them with the necessary tools to take their plans forward.


Thomas Hunter McGowan, CEO of InterTradeIreland comments: “InterTradeIreland’s new initiative was set up in response to an identified need and recognises that SMEs require assistance to find and access funding alternatives. We are able to signpost them to practical funding options that best suit their business requirements. “The challenge facing business is that without spending a huge amount of time researching the different options, it is difficult to know just how to access the money and which best suits their own specific business objectives. As a result, SMEs have continued to resort to tried and tested avenues which may be less economically advantageous and not viable for a sustained period” he added. InterTradeIreland’s ‘Access to Finance for Growth’ report in 2013 estimated that bank funding to SMEs in Northern Ireland accounted for over 90% of credit taken up by SMEs, much of which is short-term financing in the form of overdrafts. Using detailed data from over 2,500 businesses, InterTradeIreland’s Firm Growth, Credit Constraints and Financial Distress’ cross-border study covers a broad spectrum of issues related to the funding of the SME sector and examines if differences in banking strategies North and South of the border impact on these issues. Aidan Gough, Strategy and Policy Director for InterTradeIreland commented: “Our new report has

shed further light on a number of different issues raised in our ‘Access to Finance’ report published in 2013. “It has confirmed that firms continue to use shortterm sources of finance, the most common of which is an overdraft facility and demonstrates that larger and more established firms are more likely to use all of the different finance types, while smaller and younger firms have access to a less diversified set of products and remain more likely to be credit constrained. “Interestingly application rates for credit fell between 2012 and 2014 and the percentage of firms identified as credit constrained fell by half during that same period. It was also encouraging to note that the percentage of firms reporting no experience of financial distress increased from 40 per cent in 2012 to 63 per cent in 2014. “All in all, I think this is a very encouraging report which really drills down into the issues affecting local SMEs day and daily. It has given us a wealth of material and first-hand evidence which has allowed us to continue to develop our funding advisory services and supports and I would encourage companies to avail of InterTradeIreland’s expertise to secure growth funding,” he concluded.

Further information on our Funding Advisory Services and supports can be found on our website raisefinance/ InterTradeIreland’s Reports can be downloaded here – researchandpublications/

Overview of InterTradeIreland Supports Established Businesses • Regional Funding for Growth Workshops and Clinics give SMEs seeking funding for growth the opportunity to learn about funding options from both traditional, new and alternative funding sources.

Early Stage Businesses • Annual Seedcorn Competition aimed at early stage companies offers a share of a €280,000 cash prize fund.

• Equity Advisory Service gives a one to one advice for early stage companies seeking to raise Venture Capital. • Annual Venture Capital Conference which provides an opportunity for companies to network with venture capitalists and business angels. • Equity Guides, Hints and Tips including a comprehensive ‘Guide to Venture Capital’ helps SMEs become more investor ready.

• Business Angel Funding provides businesses with access to the key Angel Investors and Syndicates across the island.

• Equity Events including business planning workshops, equity advisory clinics, and other workshops such as the popular Entrepreneurship masterclasses.

• Funding Advisory Services.


Cut to the chase. We can help unlock your cashflow.

Whatever your ambition, talk to your local business adviser about our small business solution.

Northern Ireland’s Enterprise Bank

Bank of Ireland UK is a trading name of Bank of Ireland (UK) plc which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England and Wales (No. 7022885), Bow Bells House, 1 Bread Street, London EC4M 9BE.



Access to Finance

Pictured from left is Eugene Kearney, Commercial Branch Manager, Bank of Ireland UK; John McClenaghan, Managing Director, GES; Christine Graham, Senior Business Manager, Bank of Ireland UK.

Bank of Ireland UK unlocking your businesses potential with funding for growth

If you are a business looking to grow, then unlocking your assets, increasing your cashflow and managing your working capital effectively can give you a competitive edge and help you to fund that growth.


he best known form of working capital funding is an overdraft facility which is suitable for many businesses. But, for a business in growth, with increasing cashflow requirements, there are limits on unsecured lending which can leave a business in difficulty. Invoice discounting may be a better solution.

wear plates to local manufacturers in the mining, construction and recycling industries.

Invoice discounting is a product which has proved to be an effective and efficient source of finance that enables business to convert trade debts into cash to help meet their day to day financial needs.

John says: “We have achieved phenomenal growth in the last five years moving from a headcount of two to now employing 45 people across the business. We are in the process of re-locating to new premises that will see us more than double our footprint from 30,000 to 70,000 square feet enabling further growth while also improving efficiencies and our service capability.”

Christine Graham, Senior Business Manager, Bank of Ireland UK is based at the North West Business Unit on Strand Road in Derry/ Londonderry. She says: “Invoice discounting is chosen by many strong and successful businesses, from a range of sectors including manufacturing, distribution and transport, to provide access to a source of funding which grows as their business does.” One business owner who knows the value of having commercial finance in place to fund growth and expansion is John McClenaghan, Managing Director of GES Ltd, based in Derry/Londonderry. In 2010 he and Barry O’Neill saw an opportunity to become the premium supplier of high quality

Early success came by securing contracts with the Terex Group and the business quickly earned a reputation as the ‘go to’ supplier for companies both locally and across the UK.

John is quick to concede that none of this would have been possible without the support of Bank of Ireland UK. John says: “Crucial to our success has been in having Bank of Ireland UK full square behind us. Our business manager has worked with us every step of the way, guiding and supporting us - he understands what we’re trying to achieve. “He opened the doors to the bank’s Commercial Finance to support our working capital requirements and to asset finance lender NIIB, who provided funding for the

purchase of our hi-tech plant and machinery. He has also brought in the bank’s expertise from their Global Markets team to advise us on the right products and systems to help us minimise the risk on foreign exchange rates before we began exporting to the US, Canada and elsewhere.” The business is now set to grow further still. Planning is underway for the introduction of new product lines and a further focus on US and Canada as key trading areas. Eugene Kearney, Commercial Branch Manager, Strand Road, Bank of Ireland UK says: “We have the right people, products and services in place to support the growth ambitions of local businesses across the North West. “Our business managers are on the ground talking to businesses every day and we can offer an entire end to end seamless package of support from asset and commercial finance to managing trade and finance risk for exporters and we’re always keen to do more.” For more information call Eugene or Christine at Bank of Ireland UK Strand Road branch. Eugene Kearney, Commercial Branch Manager, 028 7127 2157 Christine Graham, Senior Business Manager, 028 7137 8456 43

The Rise

of Crowdfunding & P2P


ntil very recently, crowdfunding and peerto-peer financing activity was seen by many observers as a tiny niche with little prospect of ever impacting the broader financial system. Not anymore. The alternative finance industry is quickly becoming an important part of the UK economy and is on the cusp of doing the same in Ireland. The innovative, technology led approach has improved much needed access to finance for SMEs whilst also having a positive impact on social and charitable enterprises.

“Crowdfunding is the collective effort of a large number of individuals who network and pool small amounts of capital to finance a new or existing business venture.” The alternative finance market in the UK has more than doubled in size year-on-year from £267 million in 2012 to £1.74 billion in 2014, it is expected to grow to over £4 billion in 2015. Alternative finance covers a variety of new financing models that have emerged outside of the traditional financial system, that connect fundraisers directly with funders often via online platforms or websites. In the process, it has given individuals more control over their money as well as new outlets to invest or donate it. At the same time entrepreneurs, SMEs, charities and community organisations are obtaining much–needed finance, which they in many cases, would not otherwise be able to secure. However, given these numbers and evidence to date, perhaps crowdfunding should no longer be considered “alternative” finance and should be accepted as mainstream in the same breath as traditional finance. To back up this claim, you need only look at the buy in from the traditional finance sector in the form of partnerships within the industry – Santander’s partnership with London based industry leader Funding Circle one of the highest profile examples. Add in the fact that crowdfunding is regulated by the FCA and you can see how it has become an attractive alternative for borrowers and investors alike. 44

By far the biggest growing type of crowdfunding on a global scale is that of peer to peer lending – the practice of bringing together investors and borrowers in order to grow their business without going through a traditional financial intermediary. It is here where Northern Ireland has entered the industry with its own home grown platform, based in the North West Regional Science Park in Derry. CoFunder is Northern Ireland’s only peer-to-peer crowdfunding platform regulated by the FCA. Furthermore, CoFunder is the only regulated platform on the Island of Ireland with platforms operating in both Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland markets. Having successfully launched and funded a number of small business loans in the range of between 7-10% return to investors and average loan interest of 8% to borrowers, CoFunder has proven the business model commercially. The next stage of development for this FinTech company will see the wider roll of CoFunder by forming strategic partnerships. It’s an exciting time to be part of the change in the financial services landscape. CoFunder welcomes enquiries from partners, investors and companies, and looks forward to playing its part in financing local SMEs. Michael Faulkner is Founder & CEO of CoFunder. He is also Founder & Managing Director of EuroXchanger Currency Services a locally run currency business, and SeedUps the Equity Crowdfunding platform currently live in Canada, USA and soon launching in Mexico.

Being a family run group, McKeever hotels offer greater versatility to corporate clients and aim to work with companies to customise events to their specifications.

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However it is not just the cutting-edge facilities and professional service that make these venues ideal for business, but also the superb location. An excellent transport infrastructure makes each venue easily accessible from anywhere in Northern Ireland and Donegal. Car parking and complimentary WiFi are also at your disposal, perfect for corporate guests. For location, further information and enquiries, please log on

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Access to Funding Mark Johnston, Mark Johnston Consultancy Services Ltd often engages with businesses where access to funding is negatively affected by a lack of financial management information, which can lead to poor understanding, which in turn can negatively impact on the overall business performance.


ften businesses use external funding in the form of debt or equity funding, which allows the business to develop but also comes at a cost in the form of repayment or loss of an element of ownership. In order to promote development and monitor performance, it is vital that the appropriate management information systems are put in place to support good quality planning and decision making.

Mark emphasises the following a few key points to keep in mind when thinking about external funding;

The Role of the Lender is to predict the likely future trading performance of the business and its ability to repay money at a future point of time, in addition to assessing and evaluating relevant financial and nonfinancial information. Lenders should aim to minimise risk to protect the lender and the borrower, fully understanding the risk involved with the proposition to both parties.

• Show that you possess the business acumen to identify some of the potential pitfalls. E.g. Are you significantly exposed to Foreign Exchange risk?

The Role of the Borrower perhaps, most importantly, is to be open and honest with the lender. The borrower must make full and frank disclosure, as failure to do so may result in a poor quality lending decision and lead to more complex issues in the future. Much of the process is based on trust and confidence; failure to disclose important facts early in the process could lead to a more protracted decline, which can waste the energy and resources of both parties. It is important to understand the rationale behind the borrowing request, e.g How will it benefit the business? How will it be repaid? “The end result of the funding application process should rarely come as a surprise. Good lenders will be decisive and frank about their views on a proposal. Negative responses should always be carefully considered and key learning points can be used to help make your business better,” explains Mark Johnston. 46

• Prepare well. • Prepare a business plan using the appropriate level of detail and resources. • Consider risks and mitigation.

• Recognise your likely responsibilities. • Be sure that you are comfortable with the repayment capacity or giving up the required level of equity. Borrowing money you can’t afford is likely to lead to significant stress or failure of the business. • Understand your business plan and financial information in order to access funding; enhancing the quality of your decision making will ultimately enhance your business, its’ longevity and its’ profitability. • Financial Management and Business Planning need to be part of your regular routine. Mark Johnston is a Chartered Banker with 25 years’ experience in Financial Services and Commercial Banking. Mark’s primary role is to help SMEs source funding, and provide Business Planning and Business Analysis services. Mark Johnston Consultancy Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Mark can be contacted at


Culturetech This September, CultureTECH, founded by the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, hit the streets of Derry for the fourth time. Already the largest creative and digital industries event in the region, 2015 was no different with well over 30,000 people taking part in 9 days of events, workshops, stage shows and exhibitions celebrating digital creativity.

Creative digital education As in previous years, education played a huge part in the festival. Ministry of Science, a huge stage show, played to thousands of students (from 67 schools) in the Millennium Forum and local Special Educational Needs schools across the week. Supported by Seagate, the production takes an anarchic approach to science communication while looking at the inventors and engineers who have shaped and inspired the modern world that we live in. The celebrations continued in schools with workshops focused on coding (delivered by Kainos) and STEM as well as creative practice and digital arts. We were also delighted to host the team from CERN for the second time, following up on our visit to their amazing facilities with St Mary’s College students earlier in the year. As part of our Minecraft in Education programme, we launched the first Minecraft Education Day with over 30 schools and over 1000 students taking part across Northern Ireland. We were joined by Microsoft’s Global VP of Education, the COO of Mojang (makers of Minecraft) and the Head of Minecraft in Education for Microsoft who visited local schools to see the project in action. They were joined by journalists from ITN, Forbes Magazine, The Atlantic and USA Today.


Industry programme As always, the eclectic industry programme was developed in concert with a range of festival partners. The NI Design Alliance and Irish Design 2015 kicked things off with a full day of design-focused content. EURES and the Londonderry Chamber hosted an exciting jobs breakfast focused on the digital industries with 20 employers exhibiting. Ulster University and NWRC delivered events focused on the games industry and digital theatre production respectively. Audiences NI and Arts & Business NI brought a bus load of delegates to the city for insightful talks on the use of technology in the arts. Derry City and Strabane District Council and Invest NI sponsored our opening reception and retailer iConnect supported training sessions and meetups for teachers, focusing on creative education tools.

Create - the technology conference designed and produced by local teenagers - had another hugely impressive year attracting international speakers and nearly 300 participants. Not only did the team of students design the event, they raised all the money, programmed the speakers, produced the event and organised the marketing.

Create was established by CultureTECH and NISP Connect’s Generation Innovation programme. We further partnered with NISP Connect to welcome 20+ of Northern Ireland’s most exciting CEOs to the festival alongside guests from the US, UK and Northern Europe - as part of the BIG Retreat, a 24hr invitationonly programme focused on scaling global businesses. A new addition to the industry programme was the Techies In Residence bootcamp. Digital technology holds massive potential to help the voluntary and community sector develop new solutions to social problems. The Techies In Residence programme funded by the Building Change Trust and managed by CultureTECH - is bringing together six organisations from the voluntary and community sector and partnering them with companies from the tech sector to develop new products and services over a 10 week full-time placement.


During the CultureTECH festival, a bootcamp was held for these organisations as part of the match-making process. During the bootcamp, new product / service ideas were refined and revised, and currently the techies are hard at work on the projects.

Public events

Rounding out the week, we brought together over 100 educators and digital content professionals for a 1/2 day seminar on creative approaches to education. Speakers included senior figures from Microsoft, Mojang and Sony who were joined on stage by local practitioners including Dog Ears, the Nerve Centre and Hypixel.

The festival kicked off with the first ever ComicCity event and the Millennium Forum’s Star Wars themed exhibition - attracting 4500 attendees from across the island between them. A giant circus tent in Guildhall Square was home to the BBC’s Make It Digital exhibition where 6500 locals got their fill of robots, digital table tennis and BBC studio equipment. Next door our Maker City programme invaded the Guildhall for a day of hands-on technology exhibits sponsored by Learning Pool, while the Craft Village hosted family-friendly science stage shows sponsored by Airporter. Guildhall Street became the home of our first ever street part as part of Culture Night Derry and Shipquay Street went foodie with an exhibition on culinary design as part of Irish Design 2015.

This dovetailed neatly with DojoCon 2015, the annual global conference for the CoderDojo community which CultureTECH hosted in partnership with the Nerve Centre. DojoCon brought delegates and presenters from Dojos in 7 countries to the city with keynote presentations from the CoderDojo founders James Whelton and Bill Liao, the UK Director of Ultimaker and Howard Baker, the man behind the BBC’s micro:bit.

All of our industry delegates were encouraged to sample some of the public facing events across the city centre as well.


Ebrington came alive too for the finals of Formula Derr-e, with schools from across the city racing selfbuilt electric carts to win the inaugural title. They were joined by the FabLab as they showcased their brilliant 3D printing technologies with huge outdoor structures. And inside the newly christened creative hub in Buildings 80/81 CultureTECH and the Nerve Centre - sponsored by Seagate - hosted a major digital arts exhibition co-created by the Barbican and Fish Island Labs in London.

CultureTECH has always been a celebration of the digital sector bringing together both the best local talent and industry leaders from across the globe. It’s big, messy and lots of fun, but with a serious aim to inspire the next generation of digital creatives and hopefully doing something important for the city’s future and the future of its young people in the process. Of course, the highlight for the city’s young people was undoubtedly our Minecraft weekend which took place in the Millennium Forum. Over 4500 of them crammed into the sold out venue to play games, learn new digital skills and meet their online idols - including a special visit from Stampy, one of YouTube’s biggest celebrities..


Made in Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Science Park publishes fourth annual Knowledge Economy Index


orthern Ireland has a rich heritage of innovation and innovators in science and technology. For decades the people of Northern Ireland led the world with their innovation, engineering and entrepreneurial excellence. If you look back over the last 400 years, per head of capita, Northern Ireland has produced more innovators and inventors than anywhere else on the planet. I encourage you to check out the BBC iWonder website ‘Made in Northern Ireland’ section which sets out the history of our inventors and innovators and how they have impacted on the world. Building on this heritage, at the Science Park our focus is unashamedly on the development and growth of what we term the Knowledge Economy, that is an economy built upon innovation, entrepreneurship and the intellectual capital within NI. Our vision is the transformation of Northern Ireland into one of the most entrepreneurial and innovative knowledge economies across Europe by 2030.

start-ups and exports with 11 out of 18 key indicators either above or on target. For the first time we have the statistical evidence to support the view that focusing on a knowledge-based economy is critical to the future rebalancing of the wider economy. The key findings include: • One in ten jobs is knowledge dependent with the sector making up 10% of total GVA • The NI Knowledge Economy is export led, with £17 of every £20 being earned from outside the six counties • For every job in the Knowledge Economy a further job is supported in the wider economy • Knowledge workers have salaries 50% higher than average with the highest productivity of all our economic sectors • There were 410 innovative startups created in the past year

• The Knowledge Economy is growing across the whole of Northern Ireland In recent times, emerging nations have been able to compete on cost but it is more difficult to compete on the basis of knowledge and innovation and this gives NI a comparative advantage. The growth in the Knowledge Economy is reflected in the companies based at the Science Park and in the twelve months since the NW Science Park opened, the companies based there have shown on average annual growth of 30%. At the Science Park, our ambition is to play a significant role in developing a fully balanced economy for N. Ireland, fully embedded in the global economy of the mid-21st Century. Only such will give hope and opportunity to all our people and especially to our young people.

September saw the publication of the fourth annual Knowledge Economy Index (KEI) – commissioned by NI Science Park and sponsored by Bank of Ireland UK – which studied 21 economic indicators to reveal the size and growth rate of the regional knowledge economies in the UK. The report contained good news, confirming Northern Ireland as the second fastest growing Knowledge Economy across the UK making up 10% of the NI economy. The KEI demonstrates that our Knowledge Economy is almost one half larger than in 2009 and is out-performing stretching targets in job creation, high value salaries, new business


For over 25 years the Nerve Centre has carved out a real reputation for innovation, moving from a self-help group set up by young Punk musicians in the City to an organisation spread over four sites in Derry and Belfast and employing almost 50 people in work ranging from Teacher Training to Digital Communications as well as Film and Music.

The Future’s Looking Fab for the NorthWest


he last three years have seen the organisation taking this spirit of innovation to a new level with the opening of one of Ireland’s first FabLab’s in Magazine St. Initially funded by the EU Peace Programme, the FabLab (Fabrication Laboratory) is a place where anyone can come in and use a range of equipment including 3D Printers, Laser Cutters and Milling Machines to make literally almost anything.

and engage people here, whether producing a film or creating a piece of music, and the results have consistently been impressive, but the FabLab has taken that to a new level. When people come in here they make actual things – everyone that comes in for a programme leaves with something that they have designed and made and that is hugely empowering for people of all ages and all abilities.’

FabLab began in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) a decade ago as a place where students could test the very latest technologies and create practical uses for them in everyday life. From there they have grown into a network of over 400 FabLabs in every corner of the world – all connected and all bringing technology into the hands of ordinary users.

Support from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure ensures that the FabLab is heavily used for teacher training in digital skills, mental health, jobskills, NEETS and artistic programmes, but it has also become a magnet for local businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to innovate and add a creative dimension to their businesses.

What this means in the Nerve Centre’s FabLab is that state of the art technology, with input and guidance from the Big Brains at MIT, is directly available for people across the North West to come in, learn about, use, experiment and explore. Whether it is a group of students looking to create a new bike shed for their school, or an inventor needing to 3D Print components to develop a proof of concept, the FabLab is there to provide support and guidance. This can have many positive benefits for users from a wide range of backgrounds as John Peto, Director of Education at the Nerve Centre, explains ‘We have always used creativity and making to inspire 52

One of the very first users of the FabLab when it opened in 2012 was Joanne Doherty, then a woman with an idea and now a successful entrepreneur through her PieceMakers company. As Joanne explains, the FabLab helped to turn a raw idea into a fully formed business ‘When I went into the FabLab I didn’t have any idea about computer design or digital fabrication but after a coffee with the team there we talked through my ideas for a tourist product and showed me how to develop a prototype. Within a month I had a working product and now, three years later I have bought my own laser cutter and have a successful tourist product business which is growing across the island.’

Teaching the skills and empowering users is central to the FabLab model. Users like Joanne are encouraged to learn and do it for themselves, under the watchful eye of Eamon Durey, FabLab Manager

then. I was able to test and refine the design locally and developed a totally unique solution in a matter of weeks. The whole process gave me total control and saved me around £20,000 in development costs.’

‘We are really here to give people a hand up and open their eyes to the possibilities that the technology can bring, whether that’s in a new product line, packaging, point of sale material or adding value to an existing product or service.’

Other local innovators are using the FabLab to create a range of new products, from digital farms to prefabricated houses and there really does seem to be no limit to what is possible – a forthcoming project will also see artists from the UK, Ireland and Spain collaborating on new digital artworks made in the Fablab as well as a growing network of Labs across the UK.

Another local entrepreneur who has benefitted from the FabLab is Dermott O’Donnell of Taste of Goodness. With Taste of Goodness growing as a business, Dermott identified the need for a bespoke bottle to position his product uniquely in the market ‘The traditional way for me to get a bottle made would be to send a design across to China and have a series of prototypes sent back and forth over a period of months. When I went to the FabLab we worked up a design and began 3D Printing protoypes there and

It’s clear that 25 years on, innovation and creativity remain the key drivers for the Nerve Centre and through the FabLab, there are even more opportunities for everyone in the North West to benefit. For more information on the FabLab visit



The Value of Innovation

to Modern Business Airporter, the multi-award winning transport company based in DerryLondonderry, understand the value of innovation to modern business.


wned and operated by Jennifer and Niall McKeever, Airporter has grown steadily since its inception in 1996. Connecting the North West to the door of the Belfast airports, Airporter will carry close to 100,000 passengers this year, and travel over 1.5 million kilometres in the process. While Airporter reflects the best of family businesses its growth indicates a modern and ambitious company that harnesses the best in innovation, technology, staff and strategy to keep moving forward. When it comes to business excellence, the company has invested in traditional areas including Customer Service, with 100% of their staff being World Host trained. This is because Director Niall McKeever appreciates the significant value their staff bring to the wider economy; “We straddle the industries of transport, tourism and aviation, so at Airporter we have the responsibility of providing the first and last impression to visitors. It’s imperative that all our staff members understand their role as ambassadors to the company and to the city. We’re charged with creating a positive and lasting impression.” However, Niall knows only too well the importance that innovation has played in tandem with their dedication to meeting customer needs, resulting in the steady growth they now enjoy; “The Airporter fleet is the

newest in Ireland, with £400k of investment in coaches having been made in 2015 alone. Although Airporter has offered on board Wifi since 2009 - and were the first in Northern Ireland to do so - a mobile device is no use if it’s out of power, so now all our coaches have plug sockets at every seat, so passengers can charge their device while traveling.” Innovation for this company is the solution for managing growth, supporting staff, finding new customers, adhering to compliance and improving management. While many recent introductions were sought as solutions to increasing compliance within the passenger transport industry, they have dually resulted in improvements for staff and customers. A practical example of this is the use of an iPhone 6+ by the Airporter driver to complete a daily walk around check, report any defects using QR codes located throughout the vehicle, check in passengers and sell any unused seats. The reservation system allows drivers and staff to address passengers by name, and (because the passenger has probably booked online using a smart device) the whole transaction can be paperless. And as Niall explains, the company aren’t content to stop there; “More recently, Airporter become the first transport company in Northern Ireland to install Masternaut which is a fleet management solution that provides real-time vehicle tracking, to increase passenger safety and government compliance, and improve fuel efficiency.” As Airporter becomes more skilled at using innovation to respond to customer demand, so the performance of the business has improved with profits increasing yearon-year.



launches new Business Support Centre Over 100 entrepreneurs, business leaders, innovators and educators joined the staff from the Business Support Centre at North West Regional College at the official opening of the brand new facility at the Strand Road Campus recently.


r Fergal Tuffy heads up NWRC’s Business Support Centre, which comprises a team of business development specialists and technical consultants, with experience in supporting small and medium size enterprises in improving their profits. During the event Dr Tuffy introduced the variety of programmes and support streams available to companies and organisations in the North West. These include the InnovateUS programme, supported by the Department for Employment and Learning, which provides 30 hours of funded support to assist businesses in acquiring the skills necessary to engage in innovation activities to help them grow their business. The Business Support Centre is also delivering the DEL Skills Focus programme which enables businesses with up to 250 employees to upskill or reskill employees in accredited training programmes at Level 2 or above. DEL will fund 75% of the training


costs with the business paying the remaining 25%. Training delivered will be based on employers needs and can be delivered flexibly. In addition, the team will assist local businesses to apply for, and if successful, implement an InvestNI Innovation Voucher to develop innovative new products, processing or for Research and Development. This provides up to £5000 worth of support to the business.

Innovating for a stronger business community The main focus of the team within the College’s Business Support Centre is to help businesses evaluate their current operations, product ranges and processes, and to assist with innovative and creative solutions, so that the enterprise can stand out from the crowd, and ultimately improve the bottom line. The investment in staff and facilities at the Strand Road Campus is an example of the commitment that the College

is making to the business sector locally. “NWRC is leading the way towards a brighter economic future for this region” said Principal Leo Murphy, “we have invested in bringing experienced and innovative staff to the College to work with local SMEs, and our new offices reflect the professional approach we make on behalf of north west companies.” Addressing the event James Huey of the Walled City Brewery echoed the sentiment that innovation and forward thinking were central to the services offered by NWRC’s Business Support Team. James engaged with the College in the early stages of his business planning, and is reaping the rewards having benefitted from upskilling, technical expertise in kitchen design and menu planning, staff training and placements for students within the Brewery restaurant, and on developing the businesses digital presence. His views were supported by Gavin Killeen of Nuprint Technologies who noted the importance of upskilling, for business and the wider community. If you would like to discuss how North West Regional College’s Business Support Centre can assist your business, please contact the team on





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The LegenDerry

Bentley Boys

Ruairi Breslin talks to Editor, Jackie Logan about his journey in the North West’s hospitality sector along with business partner, Tony O’Connor.


f you had said to any normal thinking individual in 2008; ‘Let’s invest in and run a bar and restaurant’, without a doubt you would have had to ask some very serious questions first. The recession had just started, the smoking ban had already taken its toll, and public bars’ customer numbers fell following the introduction of smoke free legislation the previous April. One might have wondered whether this was the right direction to take. Fast forward seven years and Tony O’Connor and Ruairi Breslin have a number of pubs, restaurants and takeaways all over the city of Derry-Londonderry – very successful ones at that. So I took time out to ask – what’s the secret? “It’s a combination of many things; first of all it’s about a good partnership, where we have our individual expertise and knowledge, but for both of us it’s also about the community and the locality. For us it was


important to provide a venue, which offered value for money food, drink and entertainment. All of our venues offer great food at excellent prices and we place an emphasis on sourcing food locally to benefit the local economy. “My father is a butcher, so all of our meat comes from the renowned Breslin’s Family Butchers. With family ties, I obviously get it at competitive prices and with the rest of the food we use local suppliers. We have a strict benchmark with which they have to attain, as it’s important to us that the food is of a consistently high standard – using local, high-quality produce is a good start.” commented Ruairi Breslin. Primarily a businessman, Ruairi is a trained chef, but he doesn’t find much time for cooking these days; “Most of my time is spent running the business. For Tony and I, it is full on, seven days a week, but I don’t think either of us would have it any other way.”

He does admit the hospitality industry can be tough and the competition in Derry-Londonderry is stiff, so there is never too much time to sit back and rest on their laurels. With over 200 staff over the five venues and 3,000 meals served per week in The Bentley Bar alone, Tony and Ruairi continue to make it work in this challenging sector.

With two Bistro 9s in Clooney Terrace and the Whitehouse Retail Park and The Magnet Bar on the Culmore Road, you would have been mistaken that they had finished there, but continuing to see a niche in the market, The Cosh Bar and Grill opened a year ago on the Buncrana Road and Slym Gyms in Castle Street opened just three months ago.

Over the seven years Tony and Ruairi have added to their first love, The Bentley Bar, with renovations ongoing currently for a beer garden, a welcome addition to the thriving bar and restaurant in the middle of the city, strategically placed beside the Foyleside Shopping Centre.

“Slym Gyms is all about healthy food and drink. In 2015 there are many more people who want something more than an excellent burger and chips. There is a market for food that is nutritious, healthy and meets different dietary needs.

With over a million pounds of investment to date, The Bentley Bar started off as a small bar, today it is over three stories, composing of; a wine bar, a restaurant, a bespoke function room for the many parties and anniversaries, and now the new addition of the beer garden. It is no wonder that these young entrepreneurs have their sights set very high. It is clear to see that the business partnership works, and with the addition of Jason Doherty (a partner from the outset in the bar), Tony and Ruairi have went on to look at what the market needed. Their Bistro 9 brand offers restaurant food as a takeaway at affordable prices. “Bistro 9 was about giving the local people high quality takeaway food. We wanted to offer quality restaurant food at keen prices that customers could take home and eat with their family and friends. It’s a twist on takeaway food, where we serve and deliver home cooked classics.” added Ruairi.

“Everything in Slym Gyms is about health. From the detox smoothies and juices to the wholesome breakfast foods and hearty healthy main courses. The concept is to create and deliver healthier, tasty dishes without the guilt.” With two young families these two young entrepreneurs don’t seem to be taking life easy and when asked if he and Tony were going to continue to build their hospitality empire in Derry-Londonderry, Ruairi says, “if the opportunity arises I’ve no doubt that Tony and I will look at any proposition very seriously. Being able to give substantial local employment, good food in great venues at affordable prices, sure where else would you do it! “We get a real buzz when we open a new bistro, bar or restaurant and it works! We’ll continue to do what we do and love for as long as possible.”


Strabane Chamber of Commerce’s

Business Awards 2015

Strabane Chamber of Commerce held their annual Business Awards ceremony on Saturday 17th October in the Fir Trees Hotel, Strabane. There was much excitement in the lead up to the awards, with 16 categories, nearly 80 nominees to be judged by an independent adjudicator, over 14,000 public votes registered supporting finalists and a completely sold out night; it was the biggest and best business awards ever in Strabane.


he host for the evening was Sarah Travers from UTV who did a phenomenal job of coordinating the evening’s events and ensuring everything went smoothly. The diverse range of business and individuals nominated for an award demonstrated the wealth of talent and success that Strabane and wider district’s business community has to offer. The host for the evening was Sarah Travers from UTV who did a phenomenal job of coordinating the evening’s events and ensuring everything went smoothly. The diverse range of business and individuals nominated for an award demonstrated the wealth of talent and success that Strabane and wider district’s business community has to offer. SSE Airtricity was the main event sponsor as well as the sponsor of the Lifetime Achievement Award which


was won by the very worthy local man, Gabriel Dolan, who has been in business for over 40 years and had no idea he has coming along to receive recognition for his hard work and commitment. He and his wife, Josephine, were taken completely by surprise and the standing ovation they received from the packed room demonstrated the support for recognising this industrious, local man. Strabane Chamber President, Colm Gallagher, thanked all the event sponsors, nominees and winners who participated in the award; The Fir Trees Hotel for hosting a wonderful evening; the Chamber’s media partner The Strabane Chronicle and all those who worked so hard to ensure that this year’s awards were such a huge success.

We’re great researchers Discovering pioneering solutions 100% of our biomedical research environment is judged as world-leading*. With our scientists at the frontline of biomedical research we have created a dual-acting drug countering diabetes whilst discovering that diabetes medication can reverse the effects of cognitive decline commonly

associated with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. It’s breakthroughs like these that have contributed to our Biomedical Sciences Research Institute being ranked in the top five in the UK in terms of research power. *Source: Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Shaping the future 61

City Hotel

recognised at AA Awards The City Hotel Derry has been awarded runner up at the prestigious AA Awards in London earlier this month as AA Eco Hotel of the Year 2015.


Pictured: Host Fiona Bruce, Claire Campbell Guest Services Manager, Veronica Doherty Accommodation Manager, City Hotel and Simon Numphud of AA Hotel Services

he hotel which narrowly missed out on the award to the famous Savoy Hotel in London beat off intense competition from a number of hotels throughout the UK to scoop second place. Claire Campbell, Guests Services Manager, and Veronica Doherty, Accommodation Manager at the hotel attended the event in the impressive Grosvenor Hotel in London earlier this month. Speaking after the event, Claire commented:

The AA Eco Hotel Awards acknowledges independent hotels which have demonstrated a clear commitment to sustainability. The AA judges look for evidence of established policy and employee engagement. This includes employee training and changes made to operations, development of accountability and ownership of environmental targets as well as internal and external communication of environmental initiatives.

“We are delighted to attend this evening and be recognised amongst the top hotels in the UK for our eco friendly approach. The team at the hotel have been committed over the past number of years to establishing an effective eco strategy which has resulted in us being here this evening.”

In addition, the judges looked at reduction of consumption of utilities, carbon footprint, waste management and pollution, a recycling programme and the use of sustainable products and local suppliers.

Book Online


The 4* City Hotel is set in the heart of the City of Londonderry on the banks of the River Foyle. The hotel is 5 minutes walk from the famous historic Walled City which boasts excellent high street shopping and tourist attractions such as the Tower Museum and the Guildhall. The City Hotel also is the perfect place to base yourself for a few days whilst exploring other areas of North West Ireland such as Donegal & Causeway Coast.

• • • • •

Four star hotel complete with 158 bedrooms Conferencing facilities for up to 450 delegates Thompson’s Restaurant for excellent cuisine in the heart of the City Coppin’s Bar with live entertainment every Friday & Saturday night Secure car parking (Limited to 40 spaces)

Contact us: Queens Quay, Derry, BT48 7AS T: 0044 (0) 28 71365800 | F: 0044 (0) 28 71365801 E: W:

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Chief Executive’s Update Sinead McLaughlin gives a quick overview, and a whistle stop tour of the last six months of Chamber life in Derry-Londonderry.


he last six months have been exceptionally busy with no let up over the summer. Our business awards sponsored by the Bank of Ireland in June of this year were a great success with over 70 companies in attendance; it was great to see so many vie for the 16 awards. Congratulations to all those who participated, particularly to AE Global as Entrepreneur of the Year and Airporter as Business of the Year. It was wonderful to celebrate all that is good in business in the North West and be able to well and truly shout about it. Time in the last six months in the Chamber has also been spent on Ministerial lunches, jobs’ breakfast, the Danske Bank Advantage North West Debate and the President’s Annual Dinner and that’s not taken into account the networking events and all the other important sector based events which we organise. July saw the tourism seminar where the cross border nature of business was clearly demonstrated and with Eures on hand employers and employees were advised on how to overcome obstacles on working in a frontier region. The DETI Minister joined the Chamber in early September for lunch in The City Hotel providing Chamber members with an opportunity to engage and network with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. Minister Bell outlined many aspects of the major investment in the North West but once again he was queried regarding the infrastructure and improvements required to give the North West the competitive edge to attract more investment opportunities. The Danske Advantage North West Debate in late September was equally well attended and it was clear that there are a number of issues which needs attention if the North West is to continue on the road to economic prosperity and that require the government’s attention. In the debate it was noted that there were lots to be positive about too. Derry has a great history of enterprise. It has a young population and it has grasped those cross-cultural events with both hands and embraced them. It is clear there is much work to be done but in the North West there is good business taking place.


The President’s Annual Dinner was an excellent opportunity to put on our glad rags and celebrate 130 years of business in the city. Our President, at the time, Gerry Kindlon, gave an excellent speech and philosophised on his four paths to reason; to be mindful and aware; to read wise words; ask questions and lastly, to keep good company. This is something that, perhaps, we all should do a little bit more of in our day to day business. I have to mention the Life Time Achievement Award presented to Luke Hasson, who has spent a lifetime promoting our City in all facets of life, on the same night. His association with the Chamber of Commerce goes back nearly half a century and he was our President in 1985 when we commemorated our 100th Anniversary. Luke has been always been a strong champion for the City Centre, campaigning for retailers in particular as well as for businesses in general so it was my great honour to present him with the award. I’m delighted to announce that during Gerry’s Kindlon’s Presidency our members donated nearly £7,000 to his chosen charity, the Foyle Parkinson Charity and that approximately £750 was also collected for the Mayor’s Syrian Refugee Collection. Finally, we look forward to continuing to serve our Chamber members and give them a forum to be at the heart of a creative, innovative, competitive and confident region.

For a list of our upcoming events log onto our website For event management, contact Laverne O’Donnell – laverne@ or Cathy Kerlin – cathy@ or alternatively call 028 7126 2379

Chamber Photos Jim Fitzpatrick (MC), Minister Mark H Durkan (DoE Minister), Angela McGowan (Danske Bank) and President Gerry Kindlon (Londonderry Chamber).

Lee Downey (Eures), Brian Harte (Tourism Ireland), Sinead McLaughlin (Londonderry Chamber), Brian McDermott (No Salt Chef), Linda Williams (DCSDC), and Terence Brannigan (Tourism NI)

Paul McElvaney (Learning Pool) and Ryan Williams (Connected Talent) offering advice to jobseekers.

Charlene Shongo (City of Derry Airport) speed networking at the Eures Cross Broder Tourism Event

Angela McGowan (Danske Bank), Gerry Kindlon (Londonderry Chamber), Redmond McFadden (Danske Bank), Minister Arlene Foster, John Kelpie (DCSDC), Jim Fitzpatrick, Minister Mark H Durkan, John McGrillen (Tourism NI), Richard Caldwell (Danske Bank), Professor Paddy Nixon (Ulster University)

Londonderry Chamber of Commerce

new members Adelaide Commercial Finance Bell and Company Brightstart Media & Productions Cancer Research UK Century 21 CL Catering at Drenagh CPL N.I. Drumahoe Veterinary Clinic

EU Property Solutions EyeSpyFX FD Clarity Gradon Architecture Grand Central Bar Inspired Photography Julie Allen Consulting Martin Consultancy

Metaverse Mod Squad UK Ltd My Food Delivery Orbit Security Recro Properties Ltd Santander T and E Howie


Annual dinner

John Kelpie (DCSDC) and Jim Roddy (CCI)

Minister Martin McGuinness, President Gerry Kindlon, Gavin Killeen, Event Sponsor Jennifer McKeever (Airporter), Philip Gilliland, Sinead McLaughlin, George Fleming and Minister Arlene Foster

Minister Arlene Foster was Keynote speaker at the Annual Dinner

Deborah O’Donnell and Charlene McMonagle (Deborah O’Donnell Chartered Accountants)

Past Presidents of the Londonderry Chamber

Nuprint Team at Annual Dinner

Mary Kindlon (Wife of President Gerry Kindlon) and Riona Fitzpartick (BT Global Services)


Roy Devine (City of Derry Airport) and Niall McCaughan (The Playhouse)

One family business, three generations, since 1928. C E L E B R AT I N G 87 YEA R S O F B U S INE SS At Curtis Opticians we offer a full range of optometric services, including eye examinations, school vision assessments, contact lens fitting, and, corporate eyecare. Our practices are fully computerised, and we continue to invest in the latest technology. Our latest acquisition is OCT, an instrument that captures both a fundus photograph and a 3D cross sectional image of the back of the eye at the same time.

Please don't hesitate to contact us with any queries you may have, regarding you, or, your business eyecare needs. 028 (71) 26 2652



Planes, trains and automobiles Old railway arch, Fahan, Donegal

(and greenways) Developing what has become known as the ‘Wee Greenway’ would deliver multiple benefits to Derry and Inishowen, writes Ronan Gallagher


hile Derry blossoms as a ‘go-to’ tourism destination, numerous organisations including the Chamber of Commerce, have championed the cause of infrastructural improvements as central to the city’s continued growth. But infrastructural development is not limited to benefitting tourism. It could be argued that any benefit that accrues from tourism should be a secondary consideration, as Derry’s local population is the raison d’être for this strategy.

Omagh; and until 1965 there was a direct connection to Dublin, when the ‘Derry Road’ was closed. While it is unlikely that these old railway lines will reopen to carry trains again, what is more achievable is that they could be utilised to allow people to cycle, run and walk. It’s in this context that the development of ‘greenways’ on old railway lines comes to life. Derry City and Strabane District Council in partnership with Donegal County Council is in

the process of publishing a North West Greenways Plan that will identify a route network that could be developed over the coming years. This infrastructural strategy meets the needs of the area in question, as it draws its energy from existing policies and planning. It also aligns itself with the Department of Regional Development’s goal of having 20% of all journeys between one and two miles completed by bicycle, by year 2040. One possibility included in the plan is

While we lobby for improved air, rail and road links to Belfast and Dublin, how we commute and travel around the city – and engage with the surrounding hinterland – has not been so pressing. Many people who work in Derry happen to live in Inishowen, and this commute involves a daily drive. In many cases this drive also includes the ‘school run’. The comfort of one’s own car is very appealing, but there are numerous long-term ill effects to this ‘comfort’: one’s personal health and wellbeing, the environmental damage caused by private transport and the high cost of road maintenance. Derry once had four railway stations. Not that long ago, the lower deck of Craigavon Bridge was for trains. People could travel by train to Buncrana, Ballyliffin, Carndonagh, Letterkenny and 68

Cycling Future_Dept of Regional Development

to link Derry with Inishowen, thus providing a safe, segregated and high-quality transport corridor that would allow people to move freely between the regions. With this in mind, the Wee Greenway Initiative was formed in October 2014 to champion this opportunity.

What is a greenway and why link Derry to Inishowen? A greenway is a corridor of protected space managed for conservation and recreation purposes. It delivers a vision of the future where private transport is not necessarily the primary means of completing a journey. The old Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway line remains largely intact, connecting Derry to Bridgend, Inch, Fahan, Buncrana, Ballyliffin and Carndonagh. Some of the route is utilised by local landowners for farming purposes, but long stretches have not been accessed for almost 50 years. With the agreement of the local community, this route could be reopened as a transport corridor, allowing people to travel between these urban/rural areas at any time of the day. If the route was extended to Gleneely and Moville, and back into Derry along Lough Foyle, it would connect with the existing Foyle Greenway. Imagine cycling from Carndonagh to the Waterside area of Derry along a greenway and not encountering one car, lorry or van? This would make it a safe prospect for children to cycle or walk to school. Even limiting the number of schools to within 500 metres of the proposed route, the Wee Greenway would cater for up to 10,000 schoolchildren.

The multiple impacts of building the Wee Greenway The pollution to Inch Island, Lough Foyle, Lough Swilly and the surrounding farmland is substantial. According to the International Council on Clean Transport, ‘on-road emission levels of modern diesel cars are on average about seven times higher than the limit set by the Euro 6

Potential Route of Wee Greenway

emission standard’. Anecdotal evidence shows that there can be as many as 12,000 daily vehicular movements on the Derry to Buncrana road (the M2 from Dublin to Ashbourne clocks 25,000 daily journeys); coupled with car journeys from Greencastle, Moville and Muff to Derry at peak times, road congestion in the city can be as bad as Belfast, Cork or Dublin. Apart from reducing road traffic, the Wee Greenway would improve air and water quality. Where it is located along rivers and streams, it would prevent soil erosion and filter pollution caused by agricultural and road runoff. More importantly, it could act as a flood barrier, thus reducing the impact of flooding, particularly on lowlying land around Lough Foyle. People who are more active are also healthier. This has the knock-on effect of reducing pressure on our

already-stretched health system – north and south. The long-term financial benefit runs into millions. Coupled with the prospect of additional economic opportunities in an area of high unemployment (construction jobs, cafés, sports and health-related businesses and more tourists), the construction of the Wee Greenway, linking Derry and Inishowen, would be of huge benefit to the 235,000 people who live in the city and its hinterland. Ronan Gallagher is a business & marketing advisor and co-founder of the Wee Greenway Initiative. A study on the greenway’s viability, funded by Donegal County Council’s Strategic Development Fund, will be published in December 2015. The organisation can be reached at weegreenway@ or www.facebook. com/weegreenway.


MANAGING HEALTH, ENABLING BUSINESS The current work environment is often characterised by the drive towards increased efficiency, performance measures and job insecurity. For employers, ever increasing legal responsibilities are becoming a burden to manage.


ith legal responsibilities stressing employers, and employees working towards strict deadlines and measurments, it is essential that the health of those involved is not jeopardised when attempting to meet stringent targets. For those reasons, Occupational Health Services are more indispensable than ever according to Dr Tony McGread, Medical Director OHRD Ltd. Occupational Health Services (OHS) provide expert medical assistance to employers in what can be a medical and legal minefield. They do so by helping to promote and maintain the physical and mental wellbeing of all staff combined with the prevention of ill health in the first instance, whether that be caused or made worse by work. OHS provide cost effective, practical solutions to health-related problems in the work setting e. g. from policy development to facilitating a return to work.


The UK Government, CBI, CIPD and Trade Unions recognise that Occupational Health Services make excellent business sense. For example sickness absence leads to 140 million working days lost from work each year in the UK. Comparable figures are noted in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) calculates the cost of workplace fatality, injury and ill health in Northern Ireland to be approximately £285 million, with ill health representing around three-quarters of this total figure, (DETI NI 2013). Dame Carol Blacks 2011 report, “Health at Work – an independent review into sickness absence” identified the importance of good quality occupational health in reducing the number of days employers lose to sickness absence.

Contrary to what some may believe, being in work is more likely to be better for your health. In addition, the UK government is increasingly recognising the workplace as an essential ‘target area’ to improve the health of people of working age. For example, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) encourages employers to consider OHS as “part of the everyday running of the organisation as well as being included in performance reviews, goals and objectives”. Don’t let your company be effected by ill health – be proactive and provide solutions for your employees and employers. Effective health management can enable employees and employers to focus on their work, which in turn increses efficiency, performance, and ultimately, profitability. OHRD Ltd is currently the only independent OHS in Northern Ireland to have SEQOHS accreditation and have clinics at Ballykelly, Enniskillen and Belfast. For further information please contact Dr Tony McGread, Consultant in Occupational Health Medicine and Director of Occupational Health, Risk and Disability Consultancy (OHRD).

A quality Occupational Health Service (OHS) can help organisation achieve business goals by : •A ssisting in the management and reduction of sickness absence. • Ensuring employees are safely fit for their work. • Help employers comply with legal requirements. • Lead to reduced staff turnover. • Help improve staff moral and wellbeing. • Help reduce costly litigation. • Lead to improved productivity. • Improved corporate image as a Best Practice employer.

Our Services include:

managing health - enabling business OHRD are a provider of quality, cost effective Occupational Health Services and the only independent in NI to achieve the industry quality mark ‘SEQOHS’ - Safe, Effective, Quality Occupational Health Service. Our headquarters are a state of the art clinic in Belfast City centre. We serve the North West including ROI clients from our Ballykelly clinic and the South West from Enniskillen. All our doctors and nurses are qualified OH practitioners who are highly experienced and customer focused. We already work with public and private enterprises of all sizes, as well as the insurance, pension and legal profession. Dr Tony McGread and Mrs Gayle Currie Administration Manager.

So if you are considering your organisations health needs contact us to discuss on:

Telephone: 028 90 268460 E-mail: Web:

Fitness for Work Medicals: • Sick Absence & Rehabilitation - mental and physical ill health and disability related • Pre-employment - advising on suitability and adjustments • Health Surveillance Assessments - hearing, respiratory, skin, HAVS and eyesight • Pension and Insurances Assessments • Periodic Health Assessments - drivers, confined spaces, at heights • Vaccinations and Travel Health - Hep B, Influenza and others • Drug and Alcohol Testing - Chain of custody test procedures And also : • Risk Assessment e.g. Workstation and workplaces visits • Policies, Procedures and Management Training e.g. Stress, Alcohol, Manual handling • Health Screening and Health Promotion e.g. blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, stress checks

Headquarters: Princes House, 44 -46 Princes Street, Belfast BT1 3FP


In this edition, I’ll be looking at the mid-size SUV market once again with the all-new Mercedes Benz GLC and Lexus NX – firmly cementing the growing crossover market as one that isn’t letting up. I will also be reviewing Volvo’s flagship, the unashamedly Scandinavian new XC90. Spoiler: It’s simply phenomenal. Motoring Correspondent, Darryl Campbell



It wasn’t long ago that the Lexus brand was associated with an older generation. LS and GS models were lavished with gold badges which looked awful to everyone else but those of a certain age – not good news for any car manufacturer.


ueue the NX. The company’s alternative to the likes of the BMW X3 and Range Rover Evoque is so youthful it looks bratty. Get closer though, and you’ll see that the aggressive, raked lines on the stunning exterior continue inside the car, with a level of detail to rival that of big-name luxury German cars. Like Mercedes, Lexus has been a little slow to this market segment, although the demand for mid-size SUVs is showing no sign of letting up. Lexus wanted the NX to look like it was carved from a solid piece of metal, and it does. In addition, the Lexus ‘L’ badge has been mimicked throughout the car, with both front and rear light clusters in the ‘L’ shape, and Lexus’ angular ‘spindle’ grill being reflected on the interior of the car. This is partly thanks to, who was brought in to revitalise the image of the brand. Featuring the American singer in the television adverts and on their website serves as a further reminder that Lexus is now really cool, and, the NX, is not one for the oldies. This is reaffirmed by the supercar influence in the NX, with each model produced containing a bolt from Lexus’ V10 engine wielding, circuit-tuned LFA – one of the most expensive Japanese road cars ever built.


Every single Lexus NX produced contains a bolt from the Lexus LFA Supercar. Even entry-level S models are generously equipped, coming with adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate control, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity as standard across the range. The interior is lavish and driver focussed, and feels exciting to sit in. Small touches, like a beautifully-designed analogue clock and sunglasses container with a mirrored backing make all the difference, forgiving the high price tag. A small touch pad also navigates the car’s infotainment system, which is incredibly intuitive. The 300h engine is incredibly smooth, quiet and responsive when necessary, returning approximately 49mpg, in the real world, and the inner workings of the vehicle are clearly represented on the infotainment system. With all that said, the Lexus NX is a stunning car that demands attention. It’s one of those cars that you simply have to turn around and get a second look at, and that’s what you’re buying. So if you’re imageconscious and averse to the ordinary, the NX is for you.

MEET THE ALL-NEW RC The RC Line brings to life the luxury marques focus on emotional appeal through a dynamic and alluring two-door coupe. It injects emotional appeal into the Lexus DNA that is synonymous with build quality, refinement and reliability.

RC300h F SPORT Specification Including: • Complete F Sport styling package • Lane Keep Assist, Ventilated Memory Seats & Electric Steering Wheel Adjust • Triple L-shaped LED Headlights with Auto High Beam

• 19” Alloy Wheels • Adaptive Variable Suspension with Sport S+ Mode • Rain Sensitive Wipers • Reversing Camera

THE NEW RX The completely redesigned RX, where sharp lines and contemporary styling combine with agile handling and advanced technology – with the most comprehensive safety system ever offered on the RX.

RX450h F SPORT Specification Including: • • • •

20” Sport Wheels Unique Front Bumper Black Mirror Covers Performance Finished Steering Wheel (With Paddles) & Shift Leaver • F Sport Twin Rear Exhaust Tail Pipes • Sport Steering

• Front & Rear Sequential LED Indicators • Low Speed Cornering Lights • Unique Illumination (Instrument Panel & Door Trim) • Auto Recirculation Air Conditioning System with Nanoe Technology

Experience these new models first hand at Lexus Belfast. Call to book your test drive on 0844 659 8337.


62 Boucher Road, Belfast, BT12 6LR.

Follow us on Twitter @Lexus Belfast Like us on Facebook at Lexus Belfast Follow us on Linkedin at Lexus Belfast


Arriving Fashionably Late


ercedes-Benz have always had a somewhat tempestuous relationship with their model names. Gone are the GLK, ML, GL, and SLK – as these will now all be known respectively as the GLC, GLE, GLS and SLC. Why? To place greater emphasis on the five core models the brand offer; the A, B, C, E and S class vehicles. In addition, the Blue Tec, Blue Efficiency and Kompressor, to name a few, differentiations have now been dropped, and will be replaced by a lower-case letter, i.e d, depicting diesel models. Why? Probably to tighten the brand aesthetic and make it more easily understood… And to make the back of the vehicles look less cluttered. Take the brand new GLC, which I test drove last month, for example. The GLC is a relaunch of the previous GLK model that unfortunately didn’t make it to the UK, and is based on the underpinnings of the C-Class, just as, for example, the GLE is based on the E-Class and GLS is based on the S-Class.

The G stands for Geländewagen, which translates to cross country vehicle in German. Mercedes-Benz have arrived late to the mid-size SUV party, and their competitors have been around for a few years. The car’s competition will most likely come from the successful Audi Q5 and BMW X3, who have established their footing in this market. Personally, I see this a fashionably late entry to the party. Whether intentional or not, Mercedes Benz is a 74

high-end, luxury brand that gives the impression that it is beyond what others are doing. The GLC makes a fantastic entrance, with it’s wide, muscular stance and confident demeanour. Mercedes has said it “favours sensual purity and a modern aesthetic over the classic off-road look”, which sums the styling up quite well. Bold, yet understated and muscular, but smooth – the GLC is trying to appeal to both men and women, but is it struggling to do both and attracting neither – I quite like it. All GLC models now come with a 9-speed auto as standard, and no option for a manual. This air of ‘convenience’ runs throughout the entire car, with options available such as; stop - start, a hold feature, in which the auto gearbox kicks in if both feet are taken from the pedals, and even an intelligent headlight system that reads the weather conditions and chooses how to disperse the light for greater visibility. The GLC does the work for you, and makes you feel comfortable while it’s doing it. The interior is incredibly tactile, with beautiful, soft touch leathers and detailed ‘Black Ash’ wooden panelling on the Sport trim. The car can even be driven in comfort mode, which strikes a balance between economical and sporty driving, offering fuel economy in the late 40s / early 50s mpg. Shift the car into sport mode, and you will get increased throttle response, dynamic steering, more revs to the engine and stop – start is disengaged. All in all, this is an accomplished, strategic entry into the premium, mid size SUV market, that gives the appearance of being fashionably late, but has really been carefully considered and strategised. Yet to decide if a SUV is for you? The sultry Mercedes should definitely be a contender.

Introducing the new GLC. From £392* a month with an Advance Payment of just £2,352.*

The numbers work. The dynamic SUV comes with an abundance of intelligent technology as standard. AGILITY CONTROL ensures a well-balanced ride, while DYNAMIC SELECT allows you to adapt the character of your drive. With an impressive CO2 figure of 129g/km, the new GLC demands serious consideration. Contact us today to find out more. Mercedes-Benz of Belfast on 02890 689000 6 Boucher Crescent, Belfast, BT12 6HU Mercedes-Benz of Portadown on 02838 337373 Carn Court Road, Portadown, BT63 5YX

Official government fuel consumption figures in mpg (litres per 100km) for the new GLC range: urban 51.4(5.5), extra urban 60.1(4.7), combined 56.5(5.0). CO2 emissions 143-129. Official EU-regulated test data are provided for comparison purposes and actual performance will depend on driving style, road conditions and other non-technical factors. Whilst this offer is only available through Mercedes-Benz Finance, we do arrange finance on behalf of other finance

companies as well. *Business Users only. Advance Payment applies. All payments subject to VAT at 20%. No ownership option. Finance based on 36-month Contract Hire agreements, 10,000 miles per annum on a new GLC 220 d 4MATIC SE (Advance Payment £2,352). Vehicle condition, excess mileage and other charges may apply. Rental includes Road Fund Licence for the contract duration. Guarantees and indemnities may be required. Orders/credit approvals on selected new GLC models only between 1 October and 31 December 2015, registered by 31 March 2016. Subject to availability, offers cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Some combinations of features/options may not be available. Please contact your Mercedes-Benz Retailer for availability. Credit provided subject to status by Mercedes-Benz Financial Services UK Limited, MK15 8BA. Mercedes-Benz UK Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 2448457 and has its registered address at Tongwell, Milton Keynes, MK15 8BA. Prices, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions correct at time of going to print.


Worthy of the Gods The second generation XC90 has a lot to live up to after the success of the previous model. Smashing expectations, the latest incarnation sets the bar even higher for the large, luxury SUV market.


ersonally, I have been on somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster with Volvo. It took me years to get over the discontinuation of the fantastic (yet overpriced) C30, but the void left behind has been filled with the phenomenal new XC90. Every detail on this car is brand new, even the Volvo badge has been redesigned. The flagship Volvo is imposing and impressively stylish. With the XC90, Volvo have rooted the car firmly in their minimalist, Scandinavian heritage, with front light clusters featuring ‘Hammer of Thor LED lights’, and the dashboard containing only eight buttons – with all other controls available through the large, user-friendly touchscreen. The Swedish preference for natural materials and clean surfaces is obvious in this car, as every detail has been meticulously thought out, from the carved wood design, to the tiny, tastefully sewn Swedish flags on the shoulders of the leather seats. I love how the rear view mirror has no surround, it is simply a mirror. The Bowers & Wilkins speaker system is not only hugely impressive, but beautifully styled – with the subtle brushed steel surfaces adding to the understated, yet classic cabin architecture. Plus, one sound system setting is for Gothenburg Concert Hall, a lovely Swedish touch.

Big. Handsome. Safe. Practical. In 2010, when the Chinese car maker Geely acquired Volvo, there were doubts whether or not the beloved Swedish brand’s minimalist and high quality approach would be compromised, but this car, and the fact that $11 billion has been invested into the company, hushes the naysayers. Driving the car is 76

a pleasure. The steering is light and road noise is minimal. I stepped from the XC90 into my Audi A3 after the test drive and couldn’t believe the noise of the road. Normally, this isn’t noticeable, but the difference between the cars was surprisingly audible. I drove the 2.0 D5 AWD, which was incredibly responsive when necessary, returning mid 30s mpg – great for a car of this weight in the segment. The XC90 majors on comfort, unsurprisingly, so don’t expect phenomenal acceleration and speed. I found myself driving slower, enjoying the technology and the smooth ride. Standard specification is generous, with an; 8-sepeed automatic gearbox, 4WD, LED active bending lights, full satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity, leather trim, park assist and auto-braking with detection of vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. Extras like the digital, fully-customisable dashboard, which is phenomenal, and some safety features come at an excess. Volvo claim that the XC90 is their safest car yet, which brings the manufacturer closer to their vision that no-one will die or be seriously injured in a new Volvo car after 2020. The XC90 boasts no fewer than sixteen world firsts in safety, and sets the tone for all future models to come from the brand. The XC90 strides into the market with a distinct air of confidence, offering a strong, very Swedish alternative to the premium German brands. Volvo always has done this, but this car brings the manufacturer from safe choice to luxury choice. With admirable ambitions, it would be nice to see the Swedes succeed in the market, especially as the XC90 offers a refreshingly different version of highend quality.

A NEW BEGINNING Introducing the all-new Volvo XC90 Made by Sweden It’s our most exclusive car ever. A seven seater SUV with all the best from Volvo. First class comfort for everyone in the car and a world class safety level. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE NEW XC90 AT WWW.VOLVOCARSANTRIM.CO.UK OR VISIT GREERS OF ANTRIM & COLERAINE

Greers of Antrim & Coleraine

028 9446 0066

Official fuel consumption for the all-new Volvo XC90 in MPG (l/100km) ranges from: Urban 28.8 (9.8) - 45.6 (6.2), Extra Urban 40.4 (7.9) - 52.3 (5.4), Combined 35.3 (8.0) - 134.5 (2.1). CO2 Emissions 186 - 49g/km. MPG figures are obtained from laboratory testing intended for comparisons between vehicles and may not reflect real driving results.


What’s The Big Idea? By Seamus O’Shea, Author of Pure Derry and Co-Writer of Ulster Fry


n a recent trip to the Chicago I was finally able to download and use the much ‘hailed’ Uber app. For those who have somehow missed the rise of Uber, it’s a clever ‘taxi’ service that allows anyone with a smartphone and (funnily enough), a car, to earn a living as a ‘cab driver’.

great idea. Success stories like Uber, Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram only heighten the allure of being involved in the startup space and working on the ‘next big thing’. However, in recent years, I’ve witnessed a worrying new trend emerging - the dream of wanting to be in a startup for the sake of being in a startup.

More importantly, it enables everyone else to arrange private transport effortlessly. Within seconds of requesting a ‘taxi’, you get a photo of your ‘cabbie’, know their name, what car they drive, their registration, where on the map they are and how long they will be. (Usually 1-2 minutes)

The rise of ‘hipster’ culture seems to have happened in tandem with this. As if a new goal in life is to arrive to work on a quirky old push bike, wearing skinny jeans, adorning a reconditioned oak desk with shiny Apple products and drinking Guatemalan coffee surrounded by exposed brickwork…until the investment money dries up. Then rinse and repeat.

That’s right, the age old Derry tradition of screaming “Hi, where the feck is my taxi?” to someone who told you ten minutes ago it was ‘2 minutes away’ could soon be over! Why all the ‘inverted commas’ though? Well, because thanks to clever thinking by Uber, their drivers are not cabbies and their cars are not taxis. No money ever changes hands and you never need to tip. Uber charge your debit card, take their cut, and pay the driver later. It is a global cashless virtual taxi office, dispatching vehicles via the cloud, with a worldwide army of drivers, who (thanks to Google Maps), don’t even have to know where the hell they are going! It is, and I never use this term lightly, ingenious. I’ve been involved in the tech scene for almost two decades. In that time, I’ve seen clients, friends, family and even myself, jump headlong into clever new enterprises believing they were sitting on a potentially 78

Cynical? Yes, but whilst an investor taking a punt on your idea is a great achievement, it is not the goal. Sadly though, some seem to have lost sight of this. I know several folk involved in this cycle. Clearly what is needed here is a football analogy: Roy Keane once famously said that young footballers often make the mistake of thinking signing their first big contract means they’ve ‘made it’. Same problem, different sport. Similarly, in the business of writing satire, the truly great ideas come in moments of inspiration, not when you sit down to think of one. Likewise, in business, the best ideas come when a need demands it, not when a desire to be rich does. I’ll tell you, if I’d a penny for every failed startup idea I... actually, hold on, I could be onto something with this! Sounds like a revenue model to me!

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