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American body backs exchange scheme

The American Ireland Fund (AIF) is to raise $1m to help fund the Northern Ireland Science Park’s Connect programme. The initiative was announced by US Economic Envoy Declan Kelly.

The AIF and the Northern Ireland and US working groups set up to support Mr Kelly’s economic agenda have also agreed to seek support for a new employee exchange programme that will provide young professionals affiliated with NISP CONNECT an opportunity to gain experience by working for a US corporation for a year.

Mr Kelly said: “The new endowment and employee exchange programmes are important steps in furthering the excellent work already being done by NISP CONNECT. The programme provides start-up technology companies with the resources they need to become successful, including linking them with advisory boards and mentors. The endowment will provide additional resources to these companies as they are starting to grow and will help them reach their full potential.”

NISP CONNECT is a collaboration between the Northern Ireland Science Park, University of Ulster, Queen’s University Belfast and the Agri Food & Biosciences Institute to help develop new science and technology ventures.

Steve Orr, director of NISP CONNECT, added: “The people of Northern Ireland are as good, if not better, than the people from anywhere else in the world.

“With this contribution from the American Ireland Fund towards our endowment we will be able to begin to develop the entrepreneurial eco-system in Northern Ireland into one of the best in the world. The result will be a great increase in the number of new indigenous science and technology companies achieving success on a global stage.”