Queen's Belfast News Release

12th November, 2010

EU Commissioner visit highlights universities role as key driver of economic growth

EU Commissioner visit highlights universities role as key driver of economic growth Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn join with (left to right) ECIT researcher Maire O'Neill, ECIT Director John McCanny, Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster and Minister for Employment and Learning, Danny Kennedy The role of universities as key drivers of economic growth in Northern Ireland, and beyond, was highlighted today during a visit to Queen’s by the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

The Commissioner emphasised the importance of university involvement in aiding economic development across Europe by coupling research and innovation with rapid commercialisation and job creation. She is in Northern Ireland as part of a drive to raise awareness of £50 billion of EU research funding currently available to companies across the EU.

The Commissioner visited Queen’s £37 million Institute for Electronics Communications Technology (ECIT), where she saw at first-hand how ECIT is rapidly becoming an international role model for coupling leading edge research with economic development.

The Centre focuses on technology transfer to industry, the creation of spin-out companies, facilitation of new locally created spin-in companies and supporting high technology inward investment. ECIT’s research activities include major programmes aimed at creating the next generation of wireless technologies, including future Internet applications.

The Commissioner was also shown exciting new developments within the University’s £30 million Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT). Based at ECIT, the Centre is spearheading research in technologies such as Cybersecurity. It is a UK Innovation and Knowledge Centre, opened last year. CSIT’s core mission is to create novel technologies that have disruptive and widespread economic impact, and through this, aid in the creation of new industries and high value added jobs. 

Researchers at both centres concentrate on tackling ‘mission led’ projects in conjunction with industry and other partners, rather than working in an isolated academic environment.
Speaking at the event, Professor John McCanny, ECIT’s Director, said: “The Commissioner’s visit today highlights Queen’s vital role in ensuring Northern Ireland remains a leader in advanced technologies and so continues to experience economic growth in the years ahead.

 “When we opened ECIT in the Northern Ireland Science Park it was a brown field site. Now there are over 80 companies and 1800 employees working here, providing an estimated £60M per annum in salaries to the local economy. We hope Queen’s and Northern Ireland will have a vital role to play in driving forward Europe’s Research and Innovation strategy, and that the Commissioner’s visit today will help promote the expertise available here to the wider European community.”

Since opening in 2004, ECIT, in addition to the £30M CSIT funding, has attracted over £28 million in additional research funding, created 150 positions, six spin-off companies and facilitated 22 external spin-in companies.

Last year, an additional 80 new posts were created when it was selected by the Government to establish CSIT and to lead the way within academia to develop new technologies to counter malicious ‘cyber attacks’.

Further information on ECIT is available at www.ecit.qub.ac.uk/  and further information on CSIT is available at www.csit.qub.ac.uk

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Communications Office. Tel: 00 44 (0)28 90 97 5384 or email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk

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