Exciting New Engineering Innovation Programme Launched in Cookstown

An exciting new Engineering Innovation Programme was launched in Cookstown recently to help ambitious engineering businesses to accelerate their growth and innovation prospects.

The Engineering Innovation Programme will assist a number of small engineering businesses in the Cookstown District to develop new or improved product and process developments and business improvement techniques, in order to enhance business competitiveness, performance and sustainability. This Programme is part financed by Cookstown District Council and the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Fund for Northern Ireland.

Cookstown Engineering Innovation Programme

Cookstown Engineering Innovation Programme

The Engineering Innovation Programme will provide a timely boost to the local engineering sector which contributes strongly to Cookstown District’s economic performance, and makes up a large slice of the manufacturing sector which employs up to 23% of the local workforce. The Programme will provide the opportunity for small engineering businesses to grow, develop and become more sustainable especially in the current economic downturn ….. and the good news is that it is free of charge for eligible engineering businesses to participate.

Mr Ciaran Higgins, Manager of Cookstown Enterprise Centre, said the Programme presented an opportunity to foster a new culture of innovation that would help revitalise the local economy and stated

“The Engineering Innovation Programme is about putting knowledge and resources within the grasp of small engineering businesses to guide them in their future development, to access support and to become more sustainable. Engineering has a strong heritage in Cookstown District and is a valuable asset for the local economy. It is vital that even the smallest businesses have the opportunity to access professional business support and capitalise on innovative ideas to enhance their future competitiveness.”

The Innotech Centre at South West College is Northern Ireland’s first inter-disciplinary business mentoring centre. As a delivery partner, the InnoTech Centre will provide the opportunity for participating businesses to access cutting-edge facilities and technical know-how including design prototyping and process improvement support unavailable elsewhere.

Dr Jill Cush, Senior Lecturer at the InnoTech Centre, said the Programme would help supply small engineering firms with the resources needed to transform innovative ideas into profitable gain, and stated

“Cookstown District is a stronghold for micro businesses with an enviable high level of entrepreneurship and business start-ups. This programme is very much about advancing the potential of small engineering businesses and South West College is in a unique position to help do this. In the last 3 years we have managed innovation and economic development programmes bringing technological and management solutions to industrial problems and assisting the uptake of modern product design. This critical programme will enable clients to access our world-class resources and expert staff to improve current design and manufacturing technology, product development, design prototyping as well as cutting-edge facilities and ongoing professional mentoring.”

Pictured are the Project Management Team for the Engineering Innovation Programme: Gillian Winters, Engineering Training Council for N.I., Myles Wylie, South West College InnoTech Centre, Ciaran Higgins, Manager, Cookstown Enterprise Centre and Fiona McKeown, Economic Development Manager, Cookstown District Council.

Project Management Team for the Engineering Innovation Programme

Commenting on the Programme, Councillor Tony Quinn, Chairman of Cookstown District Council welcomed the initiative and commented,

“I am delighted to partake in the formal launch of Cookstown’s new Engineering Innovation Programme, especially at a time when our District has been particularly badly affected by the current economic downturn. Over the course of the last year, the Cookstown District has experienced one of the highest percentage increases in unemployment levels throughout Northern Ireland. We have witnessed firsthand the heartbreaking news of local companies having to shed jobs, reduce working hours, and make the difficult choice of closure.

I wholeheartedly welcome the commencement of this much needed and eagerly awaited Programme at this juncture. I trust its introduction will go some way towards providing the support required to assist our engineering sector which provides a significant proportion of local jobs. It is my hope and expectation that this Programme will assist local engineering businesses to redouble their efforts towards becoming more innovative and sustainable and provide the help they need to facilitate the ‘green shoots’ of recovery and future growth. In conclusion, I would like to pay special thanks to Cookstown District Council for developing and part-financing this initiative in conjunction with the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Fund for Northern Ireland”.

The Engineering Innovation Programme will also deliver two expert seminars over the course of the next year which will be accessible to all engineering businesses throughout the Cookstown District. The seminars will aim to better inform local engineering businesses on the benefits of employing innovation-focused practices and business improvement techniques.

Cookstown Enterprise Centre, in association with the InnoTech Centre at South West College will act as the delivery agents for the Engineering Innovation Programme and between them they possess a vast array of experience in providing business planning and advice as well as specialist consultancy support focusing on innovative product and process development and business improvement techniques.

To receive further information on the Engineering Innovation Programme, including business eligibility criteria and application forms:
Please contact Cookstown Enterprise Centre

Derryloran Industrial Estate
Sandholes Road
Cookstown
Co Tyrone

Tel: 028 867 63660.

All completed applications must be returned to Cookstown Enterprise Centre by 12 noon on Friday 4 September 2009.