US delegation seeks trans-Atlantic development potential

Drew OBrien of the US State Department, left, pictured in Belfast with Dan Lawton, US Consul General, centre  and Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry
Drew OBrien of the US State Department, left, pictured in Belfast with Dan Lawton, US Consul General, centre and Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry
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Exploring opportunities and establishing links between the United States and the province in key areas such as cyber security and life sciences is the key behind a delegation visiting Northern Ireland.

Led by Drew O’Brien, special representative for global partnerships at the US State Department, and supported by the US Consul General for Northern Ireland, Daniel Lawton, the group is visiting Belfast and Londerry as part of the trip to seek potential collaborations between business and academia.

Starting its visit, the groupcomprising higher education representatives, leading company representatives and US State Department officials, met in Belfast with Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry to discuss his Department’s Assured Skills initiative.

“The meeting today provided an excellent opportunity to build upon the established links between my Department and the Executive with the US State Department, and demonstrate to some of the most senior decision makers from international firms how we can support businesses here in Northern Ireland,” said Dr Farry.

“My Department’s programme assists potential investors by supporting their business plans and adding value to their training and development activity,” said Dr Farry.

“This could, for example, be through facilitating links with the further education and university sectors to design bespoke training solutions, or supporting recruitment and other pre-employment activities.

“Since 2010/11, the Assured Skills programme in collaboration with Invest Northern Ireland has promoted 5,375 foreign direct investment (FDI) jobs, with a Department for Employment and Learning contribution of just over £7 million.

Emphasising the growth in confidence and capability with the province over recent years Mr O’Brien said: “We want to showcase this to our partners on this delegation, with the hope that additional investment will continue to transform the region as a competitive economic centre on a global stage.”

Mr Lawton, added: “Thanks to Minister Farry for connecting members of his team with US representatives to capitalise on the growth potential of two-way transatlantic trade and investment.”