Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

G8 summit will enhance our status as digital hub, says academic

Northern Ireland's reputation as a digital hub for potential investors could be highlighted at the G8 summit in Fermanagh in June, according to a technology expert.

Professor Gerard Parr, from University of Ulster's Telecommunications Engineering department, said the completion of Project KELVIN – the high-speed trans-Atlantic telecommunications fibre connection – could see Northern Ireland become established as a global centre for cloud computing technologies.

This could mean knock-on benefits for companies in the aerospace, pharmaceutical, supply chain, financial and creative media sectors, both nationally and internationally.

Professor Parr's research in telecommunications is internationally recognised and he has been invited to advise the US Government on how to develop collaborative research links in science and engineering projects with India.

The G8 nations (UK, France, US, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Canada) collectively represent just over half of the world's GDP. Their leaders will gather for a summit at the Lough Erne Hotel and Golf Resort near Enniskillen in June.

Professor Parr said that international trade and investment are key to stimulating economic growth and that Northern Ireland, with its combination of high speed connectivity and research capability, could be a big draw for global ICT and data centre companies interested in investing in Europe.

Earlier this year Prof Parr met a delegation of major Japanese companies who travelled to Northern Ireland to assess investment opportunities here.

According to the Coleraine-based academic, the Japanese companies were impressed with what they saw and there was interest in Northern Ireland as a strategic gateway between Europe and North America.

"The provision of and demand for cloud computing services is opening up exciting new business opportunities around the world and the Japanese were very keen to learn more about our research," he said.