Speaking at this year’s NI Economic Conference, hosted by the council, Mayor, Councillor William McCaughey, said that, despite everything that had happened over the past two years, the area will remain a “strong, vibrant, safe and inclusive community where people work together to improve the quality of life for all.”
Building on this, one of the council’s most ambitious plans lies in the cleantech sector.
Funded through the Belfast Region City Deal, the proposed i4C Innovation & Cleantech Centre will provide a platform for enhanced SME support around open innovation, commercialisation and the acceleration and adoption of clean technologies across Northern Ireland. Additionally, over £700,000 has already been secured for a new Hydrogen Training Academy, based in Ballymena. This first-of-its-kind project will enable and develop a dynamic, skilled workforce that can take full advantage of the hydrogen economy and wider cleantech sector opportunities. It will be driven by a public-private partnership that includes Council, Northern Regional College, Belfast Metropolitan College, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University and the University of Birmingham. A consortium of key industry players already involved includes Wrightbus, Energia, Translink, Firmus and EPUK, with opportunities for other partners to come on-board as the project develops.
The Mayor said: “Through this revolutionary Hydrogen Training Academy, our borough will continue to build upon its reputation as a centre of excellence in hydrogen, delivering a range of crucial entry-level introductory training for industry across a number of sectors, including energy, transport, gas, manufacturing and engineering.
“,,.Our plan is to make Mid and East Antrim the cleantech hub for Northern Ireland and deliver a better and greener future for all.”