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Local Council to host European partners at NICHE summit

07 March 2017

Derry City and Strabane District Council will host a major conference in the city next week attended by delegates from seven European regions involved in NICHE, an INTERREG project aimed at developing best practice in relation to food innovation.

The Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Alderman Hilary McClintock, said she was delighted that Council will be hosting the NICHE second interregional learning event and staff exchange, and is looking forward to welcoming representatives from the other six regions - Republic of Ireland, Estonia, Finland, Crete, Romania and Poland – at a reception in the Guildhall.

Speaking ahead of the four-day visit, which will take place from March 14th-17th, the Mayor said: “Food has been identified as an economic driver in each of the seven regions involved in the NICHE project which is aimed at building innovative food value chains, and we are looking forward to exchanging and learning from experiences in our partner regions over the next two years.

“This event is a great opportunity to build upon international best practice and to reinforce our position as a real foodie hub, particularly given the achievements and successes in our own region during NI Year of Food and Drink 2016.”

The two-day interregional learning event and staff exchange will take place at The Playhouse on March 15th and 16th, with presentations from Artie Clifford, Irish Food Awards; Brian McDermott, Manager of the award-winning Foodovation Centre at North West Regional College; and Michele Shirlow, Chief Executive of Food NI, a consortium of food sector representatives supporting the industry.

The event will also be addressed by leading local food and drink producers including Tamnagh Foods, Broighter Gold, Northbound Brewery, Donegal Prime Fish and other guest speakers.

Aeidin McCarter, Head of Culture with Derry City and Strabane District Council, welcomed the recent appointment of Council’s Project Officer for NICHE who will assist in the development of a food tourism and innovation programme for the area.

She continued: “NICHE is specifically aimed at how organisations can apply technology and initiatives to increase their capability and capacity for innovation, thus ensuring business sustainability and growth. We are delighted to be working on the NICHE project with our local partners – the Foodovation Centre, Food NI, the NI Food & Drink Association and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).”

Catherine Goligher, Project Officer for NICHE at Derry City & Strabane District Council, explained that the project was established in April 2016 and the second interregional learning event and staff exchange follows the launch event held in Co Donegal last September.

She added: “We have seen food provenance and production really come to the fore in recent years. The NICHE project will help us to learn from other regions in Europe facing similar challenges and opportunities within the food sector. The programme is being developed in partnership with Food NI and NWRC’s Foodovation Centre as well as producers and industry partners.”
NICHE is being implemented in three stages which includes gathering of best practice information; participating in staff exchanges to partner regions; and regional action plans.

The European visitors will also have an opportunity to visit the LegenDerry Food Festival (March 17th-19th) – winner of Northern Ireland’s Best Food Event at the NI Year of Food and Drink Awards – during their visit. For more information, visit www.derrystrabane.com/food