05 Oct 2022

GEMX aims to help north west based companies enhance their competitive edge

GEMX aims to help companies enhance their competitive edge

Joanne Sweeney, project director, GEMX, Mayor Graham Warke, Rose Mary Stalker, Invest NI and Paul Kirkpatrick, DuPont, chair of GEMX.

The North West Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Collaborative Growth Network has recently rebranded as GEMX – Generating Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence.

The network is supported by Invest Northern Ireland through its Collaborative Growth Programme.

Local firm, NuPrint Technologies, is the lead partner of the group, supported by AE Global, PPSL and Flemings Agri.

The overall purpose of the network is to enable a group of manufacturing and engineering companies to work together to exploit opportunities and enhance their competitive edge.

Project director, Joanne Sweeney, said the network aimed to bring together key individuals from a range of organisations to raise awareness of manufacturing and engineering within the North West, whilst developing a pipeline of talent and encouraging collaboration between industry and education.

At an 'in-person' event, representatives from industry and education heard from key players in the sector including Rose Mary Stalker, Invest NI chairperson, and Derry man Stephen Kelly from Manufacturing NI, whilst being given the opportunity to shape the future and focus of GEMX.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Graham Warke was also in attendance.

Mayor Graham Warke tests out his welding skills the GMEX launch. Included, from left, are Shannon Cartin, North West Regional College (NWRC), Gavin Killeen, NuPrint, Paul Hannigan, ATU, George Fleming, Fleming Agri Products, Joanne Sweeney, project director, GEMX and Shane Colgan, NWRC. Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)

As the chairperson of GEMX, Paul Kirkpatrick, from DuPont, welcomed the 'support and involvement from additional manufacturing and engineering organisations along with interested stakeholders. He foresees the opportunity for the North West to 'become a centre of excellence for the sector' areas such as agriculture, chemicals, printing, food, electronics and clothing.

He added: “Employment entry levels are varied so interested students can progress their education in a flexible way, with vocational routes on the apprenticeship ladder now being available from Level 2 upwards. Education can continue alongside work if that is how a person prefers to progress within their career.”

Front, from left, Paula Butler, GE Spares, Maeve McMenamin, Lumen Christi College, Joanne Sweeney, project , GEMX, Linda Jamison, Invest NI and Tina Gillespie, Derry City and Strabane District Council. Back, from left, Rosalind Young, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Aisling McMenamin, Rosemount PS, Caroline Burton, Rosemount PS, Ava Canney, St Mary’s College. Karen Goodman, Dept for Communities, and Alison Roddy, Seating Matters.

Niall Casey, Invest NI’s director of skills and competitiveness, said: “The support we have provided to GEMX through the Collaborative Growth Programme will enable the network members to collectively tackle the immediate and longer term skills requirements faced by the businesses as they continue to transform and embrace digital technologies.  

“GEMX will be best placed to collectively leverage industry, academia and government support to deliver an action plan that will enable businesses to remain competitive in an ever-changing environment.”

Joanne Sweeney said: “Engineers solve problems and, hopefully, this will be the key to the success of GEMX.

“We need to actively promote all routes within education and accept that we all learn in different ways. An effective workforce must be made up of a variety of people with a range of skills if economic needs are to be met.

“We need to harness the abilities of educational establishments and ensure that they are being fully utilised by local industry.”

Joanne Sweeney, project director, GEMX, Alderman Graham Warke, Mayor of Derry City and Strbabane District Council, Rose Mary Stalker, chair of Invest NI and Dr. Malachy O’Neill, Provost University of Ulster. Back, from left, Stephen Kelly, Manufacturing NI, Gavin Killeen, managing director, NuPrint, lead partner, GEMX, George Fleming,chair, Fleming Agri Products, Paul Hannigan, Head of College, ATU Donegal and Paul Kirkpatrick, DuPon , chair of GEMX.

Concluding, Ms Sweeney said: “Through the elimination of stereotypes, we can develop an engineering pathway to inspire children and young adults and encourage them to pursue careers in an exciting, dynamic environment which is future-proof.”

Invest NI’s Collaborative Growth Programme is aimed at SME-led networks, and provides support for groups to pursue innovative collaborative projects with the potential to increase business competitiveness.

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