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Derry & Strabane travel with NI delegation for China summit

15 October 2018

A high level delegation from Northern Ireland led by Derry City and Strabane District Council, departed for China this weekend to attend the 4th UK-China Regional Leaders Summit.

The NI delegation will be attended by senior representatives from Central and Local Government, Invest NI, Queen’s University, Ulster University, the North West Regional College and other education and business partners with Derry City and Strabane District Council being the lead Council as a partner with the host city of Dalian in the Liaoning Province,

The programme for the visit has been facilitated by the NI Bureau in China and the Dalian Foreign Affairs.

The purpose of the visit is to further develop business links and explore mutually beneficial co-operation particularly in education, technology and tourism.

The Derry City and Strabane District Council delegation will be led by the Mayor, Cllr John Boyle along with senior Council officials, representatives from the North West Regional College and the Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine.

Speaking ahead of the visit, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr John Boyle said the Council was very proud to be leading the Northern Ireland delegation. He said the Council already has a very strong working relationship with the city of Dalian in China having earlier this year signed a Friendly Co-operative City Agreement between the two cities and twice hosted visits from Dalian to Derry and Strabane.

He said: “I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from Dalian in China last week when they visited Derry and Strabane. They are very keen to build on the relationship that has already been developed and to continue with the very positive discussions that have taken place. We are committed to building links between the two cities and developing the many mutual benefits of a future partnership in business, education and tourism.”

The Mayor added that it is a huge honour for him to lead the Northern Ireland delegation and he is confident that the visit will be hugely beneficial in terms of promoting Northern Ireland, including the North West region, as an attractive proposition for global business and a hub for innovation, education and tourism.

“It’s a great honour for me to lead this delegation and to be to the fore in helping to forge and strengthening international relations. This is a hugely significant and high level delegation with a clear objective to promote where we come from and work to develop new collaborative projects. During the visit we will be looking at new opportunities for trade and invest and share experiences to galvanise our position in terms of global business and education provision.”

The theme of this year’s Summit is “Together Creating the Golden Era with a Global Vision” with an objective to foster China-UK local co-operation.

Based in North East China, the City of Dalian is a global financial centre with a population of over 6.5million. The city specialises in the Financial and IT sectors, and is home to some of the major players in these industries including Oracle, IBM and CISCO The delegation will hear more about their developments in the software industry, bio-medicine, digitalisation, marine engineering and advanced manufacturing.

Patrick McKeown, North West Regional College’s Director of Finance and Economic Engagement, who will be travelling to China with NWRC Principal and Chief Executive Leo Murphy, said: “We are honoured to be part of this delegation to China where we will officially sign the Memorandum of Understanding with the Dalian Vocational and Technical College.  We see the visit as an opportunity to forge a new learning and vocational partnership with a similar educational institution in the city of Dalian.  The visit will also afford us the opportunity to profile specific course programmes that we are currently offering to prospective international learners, such as our exciting NCUK International Foundation Year programme which we run in collaboration with Foyle International.”

Professor Tony Bjourson, Director of the Northern Ireland centre for Stratified Medicine at Ulster University Magee campus in Derry/Londonderry said: As leaders in the field of personalised medicine, we are delighted to be have the opportunity to purse mutually beneficial initiatives in the field of personalised medicine with Dalian and China in general.  We look forward to developing joint initiatives together creating the golden era with a global vision in personalised medicine education and research as this is a global priority.  The Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine will be represented on the visit by Dr Shu Dong Zhang a Senior Lecturer within the Centre.”

John Kelpie, Chief Executive with Derry City and Strabane District Council who is also travelling as part of the delegation said outreach to foreign investment investors and developing international links is a key objective of the Council’s Strategic Growth Plan and a huge opportunity for the city to build on the really positive work being done to promote the area for investment and development.

He said: “We are delighted to be leading this NI wide high-level delegation to China along with our key partners and stakeholders. We look forward to build on the relationship we have developed with Dalian and to forge ahead with our plans for growth in China. The visit is a great opportunity for us to show the Chinese market how much we have to offer in terms of education and skills and our growing expertise in areas such as the digital and advanced manufacturing industries.

The delegation will travel to China from 15-18 October.