Greenshoots Newry, a new incubation and innovation centre for graduates and young entrepreneurs in knowledge-based industries, was officially opened by President Mary McAleese in Newry yesterday.
Greenshoots is a joint initiative between Newry Institute and the University of Ulster and plans to provide a space where fledging ideas can develop into feasible businesses.
This centre, the first venture of its kind by the Northern Ireland Further Education sector, is housed in a €1.8m 1,000 sq ft building.
It is funded by the International Fund for Ireland and will offer telecommunications and IT facilities, as well as help with product development and personalised training.
Services include protection of intellectual property rights and preferential access to research and development facilities and expertise within the Newry Institute and the University of Ulster.
Anne Henderson, a member of the International Fund for Ireland’s Board, said: “We are delighted that we have had a key role to play in the development of this centre which will act as a catalyst for stimulating long-term economic growth on both sides of the border.”
Greenshoots runs the Border Innovation Gateway, which is the first-ever structured pre-incubation programme on the island of Ireland.
Greenshoots manager Kieran Fegan told siliconrepublic.com said that the programme “supports ideas at the light bulb phase”.
Although no direct funding is given to new businesses entering this free, intensive three-month programme the centre acts as a mediator, seeking funding or looking to negotiate with venture capitalists on behalf of the individual or group.
Fegan said: “Since inception Greenshoots has been much more than an accommodation provider; after all, incubation is not merely about bricks and mortar, it is about the process and activities which go on within the walls.”
By Marie Boran