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IFI New Innovation Centre to incubate bright ideas

Published on:  17 Nov 2008

Developed and operated by Craigavon Industrial Development Organisation (CIDO), the £1.5 million i2 CIDO Innovation Centre offers knowledge-based companies high quality office accommodation, on-site management guidance and technical assistance and access to a global network of potential business partners and investors.

The project is being funded by the International Fund for Ireland, Craigavon Borough Council and the EU Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme.

The 16,500 ft2 building was opened today (Thursday) by one of Northern Ireland’s most successful entrepreneurs, Sir Allen McClay, group chairman of the Craigavon-based Almac pharmaceutical group.

Located at Charlestown Road near Portadown, the new centre offers a total of 31 fully furnished office suites which are available to users from as little as £45 per person per week. Facilities include a communal meeting and exhibition area, broadband wireless internet access, air conditioning and catering facilities.

The building has already attracted several tenants and CIDO is in discussions with a number of organisations across a range of industrial sectors about future projects.

Speaking at the official opening ceremony, Sir Allen McClay said:

“I congratulate CIDO on its achievement in opening this new centre which will contribute to the continuing regeneration of this area. The Almac operation is a near neighbour of the Innovation Centre and I can testify that innovation, along with the availability of expert advice, are two of the drivers of business success.”

Among the other speakers at today’s official opening was John McDaid, Board Member of the International Fund for Ireland which contributed £500,000 to the new development through its Business Enterprise Programme. He said:

“It would be difficult to overestimate the positive impact this centre will have on encouraging the formation of technology and knowledge based start up businesses and I would like to congratulate CIDO’s Board of Directors for their commitment to this project.

“Creating a community of knowledge-led ventures in this way will serve to further stimulate ideas and add to the rapidly developing knowledge economy not only in the Craigavon area but much further afield.

“I would also like to thank our donors the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for their continued support without which we could not fund such vital projects,” said Mr McDaid.

CIDO chief executive, Jim Smith – who is also a board member of UK Business Incubation, the UK authority on the development and support of incubation environments – said that while there are 300 such facilities in the UK, the new Craigavon centre is the first to open in Northern Ireland.

“Business incubation differs from other forms of business support in that it requires a complete, tailored, ‘hands on’ support environment,” said Mr Smith.

“While the accommodation and services available at the new Craigavon centre are among the very best available locally, what makes it unique is the direct access we can provide to a huge number of international contacts through our corporate membership of UKBI and the National Business Incubation Association in America (NBIA).

“Together with our local network of experienced technology entrepreneurs and investors, we offer a complete package specifically designed to fast track the development of ambitious young companies aiming to compete in the global marketplace,” added Mr Smith.

Welcoming the opening of the new centre, the Mayor of Craigavon, Alderman Sydney Anderson, said:

"Innovation is a key driver for productivity and economic growth in Craigavon. It is important to help create a culture and environment within which knowledge based companies can develop, prosper and deliver. I believe that this new purpose built innovation centre will help us to achieve this in Craigavon"

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