A new £7.5m research hub to develop international hi-tech projects has been unveiled at Queen’s University.
The centre, which is tipped to bring major advances in computer hard drives, sensors, and advanced coatings has been launched in partnership with US firm Seagate Technology.
Seagate has provided £7.5m worth of equipment to Ansin, which takes its name from the Irish word for “there”, and will be based in the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s.
The research facility was first announced in January as part of a £58m investment by Seagate in its Derry operation. As part of a deal to receive £12.7m from Invest NI, it committed to a £1.7m collaborative research project with Queen’s, which will fund 10 research posts at the university.
Seagate is also providing £250,000 to fund business development activities that will encourage other companies to participate in Ansin.
Experts predicted that success in breaking new ground in the type of technology used to digitally store music and movies could generate wider economic growth for the local economy. There are hopes that attracting international companies could deliver other innovations, including new medical sensors and security devices.
The Ansin facility is expected to be one of the top ten industry-linked university research centres in the world.
Professor Robert Bowman, director of Queen’s Centre for Nanostructured Media said: “We are incredibly fortunate to have Seagate as a founding partner in ANSIN, for not only are they supporting our first major project, but most significantly they want to see other partners who join ANSIN use the equipment they have provided. We hope that new partners will bring their ideas into ANSIN and that by co-operatively working with other partners in the hub, new inventions will arise and products can be improved.”
Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson added: “This new facility will encourage further investment by indigenous companies and multi-national corporates in Northern Ireland.”
Dr Kenneth Allen, Seagate's vice-president of development, said the joint project with Queen's would contribute directly to Seagate's R&D learning, and provide an ongoing flow of highly-skilled engineers into local industry.
He added: “Ansin provides a unique opportunity to make a difference for Northern Ireland and Seagate in the long term. By establishing this initiative, we hope to provide the spark which leads to a stronger base of magnetic and nanotechnology capability in these islands.
“The economic growth that's generated by these research fields will happen somewhere. From our way of thinking it might as well be in Northern Ireland.”
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster added: “This research facility at QUB represents an important collaboration between academia and industry, through which the wider industrial base will benefit from Seagate and QUB’s leading surface science and advanced materials technology capabilities.”