Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

QUB gets £1.3m to boost projects

Queen's University has been awarded £1.3m of funding by Invest Northern Ireland towards developing innovative business projects.

The money, which comes from the Higher Education Innovation Fund, will fund commercialisation of research, marketing and sales support for spin outs, and support for companies in the digital engineering, environmental research and plastics sectors.

Projects include the Invest NI Enterprise Fellowship Scheme, where funding will be made available to academic staff at Queen’s to enable them to buy time out from teaching to focus on commercialising their research and establish new business ventures.

Since 1984 Queen’s has created more than 50 spin out companies, with funding for marketing and sales support awarded to help many achieve growth.

Tracy Meharg, Invest NI’s managing director of innovation and capability development, said Invest NI is committing more resources to investments that seek to commercialise intellectual property from public and private research bases.

“Universities have an essential role to play in this and in the overall development of the local economy,” she said.

“These projects, supported under the Higher Education Innovation Fund, will increase QUB’s capability to continue to respond to the needs of Northern Ireland business and assist them to develop and exploit product and service innovations.”

Funding has also been given to the QUB-affiliated Northern Ireland Technology Centre to deliver a digital engineering project. Pilot projects with nine companies will be followed by a wider promotional campaign highlighting the benefits of digital engineering to the manufacturing industry.

And the plastics industry is set to benefit with funding for the Polymer Processing Competence Centre at Queen’s. It will increase efforts to encourage Northern Ireland’s plastics sector to develop new products in areas including medical devices, biodegradable plastics and recycling.

An environmental excellence project will also receive funding, with 20 small to medium enterprises benefiting from the knowledge of the Questor Centre at Queen’s for three years.