LEDCOM helps create 235 new jobs in 2018

By | Corporate, News, Newsroom

One of Northern Ireland’s top business enterprise centres helped to create 235 jobs in new start-up companies this year with a financial boost of £5m to the economy.

LEDCOM (Local Economic Development Company) also provided opportunities to more than 1,000 people with a range of skills development programmes.

The figures were revealed at the social enterprise’s AGM as it unveiled its new chair, Dr Norman Apsley, former CEO of Catalyst Inc and renowned expert in the Knowledge Economy.

The Directors’ Report highlighted LEDCOM’s social and economic impact by injecting almost £350,000 into the wider social economy and delivering support to 157 business and social enterprise start-ups.

CEO Ken Nelson described this year’s figures as excellent, showing that LEDCOM was continuing its key role in supporting economic development across Antrim and Newtownabbey and Mid and East Antrim areas working in partnership with local councils and other bodies.

Speaking at LEDCOM’s Willowbank Business Park site in Larne, Mr Nelson welcomed the appointment of Dr Apsley, who is taking over from Henry Fletcher who served with distinction in the post for six years.

He said: “Dr Apsley has a long and distinguished career in business, including 18 years as CEO of Catalyst Inc, formerly the Northern Ireland Science Park. He is dedicated to the promotion of innovation and enterprise and we look forward to his advice and influence. I would also like to pay tribute to our outgoing chair Henry Fletcher who has been a great servant to LEDCOM and the business life of this area for many years.”

Dr Apsley said he looked forward to the challenge of working with one of Northern Ireland’s longest established enterprise agencies:  “LEDCOM’s record of economic development in Northern Ireland over more than 33 years is second to none. It has continually adapted to changing circumstances and has been at the forefront of enterprise, innovation and business support. I hope that my experience will help to add value to its ongoing work.”

LEDCOM, in association with Intertrade Ireland and Enterprise NI, delivered the Co-Innovate Programme designed to support SMEs and micro-businesses in Northern Ireland and the Border Region develop and improve their innovation capabilities and boost cross border trade.

It also provided mentoring and business support for small businesses by delivering a range of enterprise initiatives for local councils and Enterprise NI  including the Northern Ireland Business Start Programme; Exploring Enterprise 4, the ASK/Amplify Programme and the Kickstart Programme.

With EU Peace IV funding through local councils LEDCOM developed and delivered a range of community and skills development initiatives supporting community groups, young people and women.

The company currently has 54 tenant businesses and 350 employment and training places at its business parks and continues to offer managed workspace with wrap round support to encourage new businesses to develop and grow.


For more information go to: www.ledcom.org

HyperSync set to create 50 new jobs at Innovation Factory

By | Corporate, News, Newsroom

A Northern Ireland IT company is creating up to 50 new jobs over the next two years at its new Belfast base after securing a major deal with US firm, Agio LLc.

HyperSync, which has just opened a new office in the Innovation Factory on the Springfield Road, has started recruiting engineers for this new strategic partnership with the US firm.

Chief Executive Officer Marcus Thompson said: “Our move to Belfast was fundamentally focused on Agio. We have built a strong partnership as an ICT systems integrator and managed service provider and are bringing up to 50 people to the Innovation Factory to work on this new project, nearly doubling our current workforce in UK & Ireland.

Joe McCusker, Managing Director of Agio said: “HyperSync has a deep knowledge and expertise across multiple ICT technologies, which will prove to be extremely valuable for our current and future FinTech customers across the United States.”

HyperSync supplies IT managed services and innovative solutions to companies in the US, Latam (Latin America) and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) regions. It supports some of the world’s leading blue-chip companies including BT, Caribbean telecom company Digicel, pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson and US information technology company Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

It employs over 40 people at its bases in Belfast, Newry, Puerto Rico, Jamaica Miami, Trinidad and Australia.

Mr Thompson said facilities at the Innovation Factory were perfect for the company’s plans to grow quickly, stating: “I was blown away with what Innovation Factory has to offer. It has everything a hi-tech company requires – biometric security, meeting rooms, breakout areas and most importantly the flexibility to expand quickly. The staff are extremely professional, and we have received expert advice from the team.”

He believes the technology sector in Northern Ireland can compete with anywhere in the world. He added: “I have worked in the US, the Caribbean and Europe and the talent here is the best in the world. Northern Ireland has a strong work ethic and an adaptable workforce. People from the US and Europe see Northern Ireland as the place to come for world class communications.”

Majella Barkley, Innovation Director at the Innovation Factory, said: “It is so exciting to see the work that HyperSync are doing, providing state-of-the-art services to some of the world’s greatest conglomerates. It proves that the skillset in Northern Ireland can compete on a global scale.”

Innovation Factory is owned by Belfast City Council and operated on their behalf by Oxford Innovation. The £9.1m business hub was funded by Belfast City Council and Invest NI with support from the European Regional Development Fund.

Customers include a range of start-ups and growing businesses in a variety of sectors including digital services, creative industries, business services, financial services and research and development.

Young people urged to seize opportunities for career in creative industries

By | Creative Industries, Film, General, Music, Theatre

A panel of industry experts told young people about their experiences breaking into the tough world of the creative industries and how vital their first break was in giving them the motivation to succeed.

The NI Creative & Cultural Skills Awards (Dec 6) celebrated the outstanding work of young people in the creative industries and those from industry and education who help them along the way.

Organised by Creative & Cultural Skills, this year’s theme is ‘My First Break’ showing how successful people got their start by knocking doors and creating relationships in this most competitive of industries.

Guest speaker at the event Suzanne Doyle told the audience of her first job travelling the world promoting global rock band U2 after getting a lucky break at the age of 18.

She explained that her geography teacher phoned and said ‘I’ve heard of a temp job and I thought of you. I can’t tell you what it is; you have to say yes or no’.

She went for the interview and got the job of assistant to Ann Louise Kelly, who was running the day-to-day business in the U2 office for Principle Management and Paul McGuinness.  Through hard work, she was promoted to tour assistant and travelled the world with the band before going on to forge a creative career that included a stint at MTV Europe, booking acts for the Late Late Show and working as a freelancer in music and media.

Her advice to the young audience was: “Always work, even if it’s not your dream job at that time, as you have no idea what people you might meet, or opportunities might present themselves. Also, it’s good for the head, and relatively easier to get future work while you are in work.

“Be mannerly and respectful, as it goes a very long way, and ‘likeability’ really can go further than you think.  The island of Ireland is small geographically, so if you are lucky enough to be working in the creative industries, the chances are, you will bump into the same people at different points in your career. Be mindful that people ‘talk’ after the filming, recording or event, so make sure they are saying positive things about their experience of working or meeting you,” she added. 

In addition to Suzanne, the speakers at the event included music manager Mark Holden, up and coming musician Hannah Richardson as well as a panel of past students who will talk about how they got their first break.

Sarah Jones, Head of Skills Academy NI for Creative & Cultural Skills explained: “The speakers at this year’s awards are glowing examples of how determination, persistence and an unwillingness to take no for an answer are essential in getting a career in the music business or any area of the creative sector.”

Creative & Cultural Skills gives young people opportunities to work and learn in the creative industries. Through the awards, we want to inspire young people so that they feel that they can take the opportunities and aim for careers that they will find rewarding and fulfilling.”

Among those recognised at the annual NI Creative & Cultural Skills Awards were four outstanding young people who won in the Apprentice, Intern and Student categories.

The Apprentice of the Year went to Fionnuala Cush an Apprentice at Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich who has recently been appointed to a full time post as Business Development Officer. Two young women were joint winners of the Intern of the Year Award – Méabh Rooney, a Marketing and Events Intern with the NI Science Festival and Erin McClean, a  Marketing & Admin Intern at Young at Art. The Creative Student award was won by Ethan Kelly, an HND Music Production student who has recently graduated from North West Regional College.

It wasn’t just the young people who were recognized at the awards but also the organisations and individuals who supported them into employment and education.

The Northern Ireland Creative Industry Skills Award went to Sian O’Neill and Charlene Hegarty from the Oh Yeah Centre while the Northern Ireland Education & Industry Collaborative Partnership Award went to the Get Started Programme run by a partnership between The Prince’s Trust and Bauer Academy.

Thomas James Scott and Alan McCracken, course co-ordinators/lecturers creative media, Belfast Met won the NI Tutor of the Year Award.

The event, which was held at North West Regional College, recognised the success of local talent and celebrated the impact of the NI Creative Employment Programme, supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery Funding. The programme committed £275,000 towards the wage costs of 89 jobs through paid internships and apprenticeships.

Danny Laverty, Head of Science, Technology and Creative Industries at North West Regional College said: “Staff and students at the college were delighted to welcome so many guests from the Creatives Industries to the awards ceremony at our Strand Road Campus.

“I’d particularly like to thank all those who worked so hard in bringing the event together, and to our special guests for their insightful talks on how their first break gave them the drive to succeed in their chosen careers. We’d encourage all of the students who took part in the Creative & Cultural Skills awards ceremony to continue to be motivated and inspired by others in their field.”

Hundreds attend Reclaim the Night march in Belfast

By | General, News

Hundreds of women, members of the LGBT community and their allies have taken part in the fifth Reclaim the Night march against gender-based violence.

The organisers, who have welcomed the recommendations in the interim sexual offences report by retired appeal court judge Sir John Gillen, said it was vital to continue to struggle to end sexually motivated attacks and abuse.

One of the organisers, Elaine Crory thanked those who support changes to the law for coming along to the march to show support for safer streets.

She said: “The aim of the march was to raise awareness about sexual harassment and violence. We are calling for an end to the constant targeting of women and members of the LGBT community. We want to remind people that these issues aren’t going away and that as well as every high profile trial or sensational incident, harassment is an everyday reality for women and for LGBT people. While that continues to be true we will continue to march.”

A range of speakers addressed the crowd including Máiría Cahill, who accused a senior IRA man of repeatedly sexually abusing her as a teenager, alongside Laila Daya from Queen’s University African & Caribbean Society; Alexa Moore, Director of Transgender NI; Catriona O’Brien from Sex Workers Alliance Ireland and Rachel Watters, NUS-USI Women’s Officer.

The march, which marked the first day in 16 days of action addressing violence against women, was  the fifth to be held in Belfast.

Co-organiser Danielle Roberts added: “Reclaim the Night was originally sparked by the Yorkshire Ripper murders when the police suggested they have a curfew for women out at night. The women objected to this and organised an opposition march.

“There is still an urgent need for Reclaim the Night because of countless reports of gender based violence in our society. Building on the history of Reclaim the Night Marches, we are continuing to raise our voices against street harassment and gender based violence.”

For more information about Reclaim the Night go to: https://www.facebook.com/RTNBelfast/