Engineering Innovation Programme Benefits Cookstown Businesses

Enigneering Innovation Programme: Cookstown Northern IrelandA high profile event recently held in Cookstown to support local engineering companies has proved a major success. The event was delivered as part of Cookstown’s Engineering Innovation Programme which aims to assist ambitious engineering businesses to accelerate their growth and innovation prospects. Cookstown’s Engineering Innovation Programme is part financed by Cookstown District Council and the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.

The event, entitled ‘Engineering Sustainability Through Innovation’ provided local engineering businesses with critical information and advice on how best to employ innovation-focused practices and business improvement techniques within their business. The event focused on sustainability, new opportunities in sustainable development and the streamlining of manufacturing processes to increase profitability.

The event was officially opened by Councillor Tony Quinn, Chairman of Cookstown District Council who stated,
‘Over the course of the last year, Cookstown District has endured one of the most difficult trading periods in living memory, and has suffered greatly at the hands of the recession. To assist one of our District’s key sectors, engineering, Cookstown District Council has spearheaded a new and ambitious Engineering Innovation Programme to provide dedicated support to 12 small engineering businesses to assist them implement new products, processes and business improvement techniques. It is my hope and expectation that this engineering seminar, matched with the specialist technical support available for engineering businesses will go some way towards improving the sector’s competitiveness, performance and long term sustainability’.

Throughout the morning’s event a number of guest speakers addressed attendees. The keynote speaker for the event was local businessman, Mr Tony Convery, Executive Chairman of CDE Global Ltd, who delivered an inspirational talk focusing on how CDE has embraced innovation in order to grow from a small local business to become a global company. The presentation provided an insight into the processes which CDE has engaged in to ensure effective and efficient delivery of services, partnered with a productive workforce to achieve sustainability.

The event also provided the opportunity for attendees to participate in two short workshops. At the first workshop a wide range of sustainable development opportunities were outlined suitable for local businesses, facilitated by Mr Sam Knox from Invest Northern Ireland’s Sustainable Development Team. Secondly, Mr Phill Harrison from the National Skills Academy for Manufacturing led the second workshop, highlighting how small businesses can increase profitability through streamlining their manufacturing processes.

Following the workshops, attendees had the opportunity to directly engage with a wide range of exhibitors that were present to brief businesses on the types of support and funding opportunities available to small engineering companies. The 16 exhibitors present represented a cross-section of organisations offering support to the engineering sector. These included:-

  •  Action Renewables
  •  Carbon Trust
  •  Cookstown District Council
  •  Cookstown Enterprise Centre
  •  Department of Employment & Learning
  •  Engineering Training Council
  •  Envirowise
  •  Health & Safety Executive NI
  •  HM Revenue & Customs
  •  Invest NI
  •  Institute of Mechanical Engineering
  •  National Industrial Symbiosis Programme NI
  •  NI National Skills Academy
  •  NI Technology Centre
  •  South West Action for Rural Development
  •  South West College InnoTech Centre

The delivery partners for the programme are Cookstown Enterprise Centre in association with the InnoTech Centre at South West College. Both organisations have a proven track record of delivering programmes to meet the needs of small businesses, especially those from the engineering sector. The specialist knowledge and skills they possess in relation to business planning, advice and specialist consultancy support will undoubtedly assist participating businesses on the Programme to innovatively address their specific engineering requirements.

Commenting on the event Ciaran Higgins, Manager of Cookstown Enterprise Centre, stated
“The event provided an excellent opportunity for local engineering businesses to increase their knowledge and understanding of innovation. With 16 support organisations in attendance, the event also provided local businesses with advice and information on sources of support available to them. The aim of the event was to put knowledge and resources within the grasp of local engineering businesses to guide them in their future development, to access support and to become more innovative and sustainable.”

Dr Jill Cush, Senior Lecturer at the InnoTech Centre, said
“We are delighted with the event, especially with the number of local engineering firms that attended. We hope it proves to be an inspiration to them to show that there are support organisations that can help them to develop and investigate innovative ideas. We would encourage businesses to contact organisations such as ourselves, the Enterprise Centre and Cookstown District Council to explore new products and services that can position their business for sustainability and growth”.

The event also provided a valuable opportunity to highlight the success of the six engineering businesses that are currently participating on the Engineering Innovation Programme. These companies are now availing of up to 8 days of free engineering consultancy support, to develop new or improved product and process developments and business improvement techniques. Phase two of Cookstown’s Engineering Innovation Programme will open to applications from engineering businesses within the next 8-12 weeks.


For more information, please contact Ciaran Higgins, Manager, Cookstown Enterprise Centre, on 028 867 63660.