The City Deal and the Inclusive Future Fund will enable the delivery of a very compelling and transformative integrated economic and social regeneration programme of investment for the North West, with the Graduate Entry Level Medical School, CARL, CIDRA and THRIVE innovation centres, driving the expansion of the University.
Innovation, Digital and Health
The suite of innovation, digital and health projects are aimed at transforming the region’s innovation and digital capability and capacity. This will be achieved through the establishment of research and innovation centaaares that build on Ulster University’s strong track record of research excellence in data, health and life sciences and advanced manufacturing, and will be supported through enhanced digital capability, connectivity and smart infrastructure. The ambition is to create an Innovation Corridor, located on the city riverfront, which will be home to a fast-growing cluster of research centres of excellence that will bring together researchers, business and the local community.
· Centre for Industrial Digitisation Robotics and Automation (CIDRA)
This will support industry and commerce in their adoption and exploitation of industrial digital technologies, robotics and automation promoting innovation and accelerating new applications in the service sectors. At the heart of this proposal is the need to improve innovation, productivity and competitiveness in the regional economic base whilst considering the needs, skills, and well-being of the future worker.
· Cognitive Analytics Research Lab (CARL)
This is a transformational new cutting-edge Applied Research Centre that brings together data analytics and Artificial Intelligence expertise which are key technologies for future innovation. The Centre seeks to exploit the advances in High Performance Computing by applying Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques to sectors as diverse as health, financial technology, media, energy and public policy.
· The Transformation Healthcare Research Innovation Value Based Ecosystem (THRIVE)
This a research-led, community and industry-facing facility developed in response to the strategic needs of the Northern Ireland health and life science industry and in recognition of the global opportunities that exist. Core to this project will be the establishment of a Community Health Company which will study the genes of the people of the city and region.
· School of Medicine
This project will help meet the region’s need for increased medical student places to address the wider issue of a shortage of doctors. This will deliver a step change in Northern Ireland’s capacity to train and deliver medical professionals to support the National Health Service in the North West, Northern Ireland and across the UK.
· Smart City
This proposal will place the city region at the leading edge of urban innovation supporting the development, deployment at scale and commercialisation of smart specialisations across a range of sectors and public service delivery.
· Digital Enabling Infrastructure Programme
This programme will create a step change in the digital infrastructure within the city region by focusing on next generation technologies including 5G connectivity and rural connectivity in areas with poor or no broadband connectivity. This will ensure that connectivity within the city region will be future proofed and will bring new capabilities in terms of availability, speed, capacity and resilience.
Regeneration and Renewal
The transformative regeneration and renewal projects will see a re-imagining and repurposing of Strabane Town Centre and the riverfront of Derry/Londonderry whilst enhancing the Walled City Centre. This investment in infrastructure, place-making and tourism-led regeneration will support economic recovery and inclusive growth. The vision is to shape a world class cultural, business, civic, learning and innovation district in Derry City through transformational investment, and to revitalise Strabane town centre.
· Derry Central Riverfront
This project plays a crucial role in connecting all elements of the city centre, old and new, whilst also reinforcing the positive relationship between the city and both sides of the river. The project will enable the complete reconstruction of Queens Quay and remodelling of Harbour Square and Foyle Embankment. This will create the foundations to unlock private sector development opportunities along Queens Quay, Strand Road, Foyle Street and the Walled City and create opportunities for civic and commercial development.
· Strabane Town Centre Regeneration
The Strabane town centre will be revitalised through the creation of new physical infrastructure, centred around the historic Canal Basin. This project will enable key services to be more accessible for residents and, subject to business case approval, will deliver the relocation of the North West Regional College campus, small business incubation units, a primary health care hub, a leisure centre and new improved connections to public transport to revitalise Strabane.
· Walled City Tourism/ Economic Investment
Following further development and approval through the business case process, the tourism-led regeneration investment will also include a Walled City Tourism and Economic Project which will reimagine and repurpose the City Centre and its environs to become a vibrant destination city where people can visit, live, work, invest, study or shop. This strand of the Deal will be developed further as industry recovers from the impact of Covid-19. The focus of the investment will be on enhancing the visitor experience, building on the region’s cultural heritage and assets with the unique, historical Derry City Walls as its centrepiece.
· DNA Museum/ Ebrington
This Tourism-led Regeneration investment will extend the tourism experience across the Peace Bridge to Ebrington with the Derry North Atlantic Maritime Museum project aimed at delivering a maritime visitor experience and archive of international significance sharing the region’s globally important maritime stories and collections in an engaging way.
Job Creation, Skills and Employability
The NI Government Departments will support the Derry/Londonderry and Strabane City Region partners to develop an integrated programme for employability skills to underpin and leverage the City Deal and Inclusive Future Fund investment plan.
Skills and Employability Pathways
Although not funded directly this project has been identified as a key catalyst to underpin the City Deal and Inclusive Future Fund Investment Plan, aimed at delivering a range of interventions required for our citizens to take advantage of the opportunities that will stem from the investment package. The focus will be on creating a skills pipeline for the employment opportunities that will arise, promoting inclusive growth and assisting with economic recovery and growth. Working collaboratively with key stakeholders, Skills and Employability Pathways will ensure that citizens, particularly young people and those removed from the labour market, are equipped with the skills for a modern economy and have improved levels of employability.
Indicative actions linked to the City Deal and IFF projects could include for example City Deal Apprenticeships, Intermediate Labour Market Programmes, careers enhancement, interventions to support young people and those who are economically inactive as well as digital skills and re-skilling and up-skilling initiatives for our priority sectors that will lead to improved productivity.