Belfast Telegraph

Friday 24 October 2014

Business Viewpoint: Research talent on our doorstep

The partnership agreement that was signed today between Queen's University Belfast and the University of Queensland should be warmly welcomed.

Although this tie-up involving the school of engineering at the Australian university and the school of mechanical and aerospace engineering at QUB is largely aimed at boosting the plastics industry globally, it once again highlights the fact that Ulster has the capability to undertake world-leading research.

Too many of our companies ignore the evidence that we have some extremely bright researchers right under our noses - researchers who could help their businesses thrive.

The other week it was revealed that just 10 companies in Northern Ireland were behind over 40% of business spending on research and development last year.

Total spending on R&D rose to £319.2m - up £8.4m (2.7%) - according to figures released by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. Business spent £155.4m (48.7%) and the higher education sector and the Government spent the rest.

But our companies need to spend more - and get more involved.

Researchers at both QUB and the University of Ulster are ready and willing to help firms develop ideas and products that could in turn lead to more investment and more jobs.

Research is something they do well, so why not tap into this under-utilised resource?

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