Innovation and Enterprise Programme progresses with the appointment of Innovation Officer

Work is progressing on the development of an Omagh District Council led enterprise initiative valued at £3.23 million which will help to further advance the economic links between Omagh, Leitrim and the wider cross-border Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) region and further afield and support the creation and development of innovative technology-oriented businesses.

Pictured left from right are the recently appointed Innovation Officers for the cross-border Innovation and Enterprise Programme - Sharon Tracey-Collins, Omagh Innovation Officer and Hilary McPartland, Leitrim Innovation Officer. Standing, from left are Kieran McCrory, Omagh District Council; Nicholas O'Sheil, Omagh Enterprise Company Limited; Margaret Smith, SEUPB and Garret McGinty, ICBAN.

The Innovation and Enterprise Programme received £2.27 million, part-financed by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).  The Programme is led by Omagh District Council and the partners are Omagh Enterprise Company, Leitrim County Council, Leitrim County Enterprise Board and Leitrim County Enterprise Fund.

The business advisory services in Omagh will be delivered by Sharon Tracey-Collins who has recently been appointed as Innovation Officer.  Ms Tracey-Collins brings extensive experience of working with small businesses, including the Technology Incubation Centre in Omagh and Invest NI’s Growth Programme, were she was Regional Co-ordinator for the Western Region.  Previously, Sharon co-ordinated the Innovate Project which was a joint cross border project with Leitrim County Enterprise. She is a business graduate from University of Ulster at Jordanstown and has worked for Omagh Enterprise Company for over 12 years.

The appointment of the Omagh-based Innovation Officer has been welcomed by the Chair of Omagh District Council, Councillor Frankie Donnelly.  Councillor Donnelly said the overall Innovation and Enterprise Programme would provide a welcome boost to the local economy as it would not only provide purpose built accommodation suitable for attracting high value companies to the district but the Innovation Officer would provide much needed support to those companies to assist them to innovate and grow.

Commenting on the appointment, Chief Executive of Omagh Enterprise Company, Dr Nicholas O’Shiel said: “Sharon will play a key role in the development of the Innovation and Enterprise Programme.  The programme includes the construction of a state-of-the-art Innovation Growth Centre in Omagh which is a major boost to the region”.

Commenting on her role, Ms Tracey-Collins said “The programme will promote and assist innovative businesses by offering a wide range of business support services.  It is my role to attract technology-orientated businesses to the centre and facilitate collaborations between businesses and academic/research establishments.  This is a very exciting initiative and I very much look forward to working with the local business community.”

The cross-border initiative was developed by ICBAN through its Multi Annual Plan.