Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Queen's University given over £1.3m for business innovations

Queen's University has been given more than £1 million to help it turn innovations into business reality.

The Government's economic generation agency, Invest Northern Ireland, has provided the £1.3 million from its Higher Education Innovation Fund which aims to raise productivity and deliver economic growth.

The cash will fund commercialisation of research, marketing and sales support for spin out companies as well as support for companies in the digital, engineering, environmental research and plastics sectors.

Part of the funding will go through the Invest NI Enterprise Fellowship Scheme to allow academic staff to "buy out" time from teaching and administration to allow them to focus on commercialising their research and establish new business ventures.

Since 1984 Queen's has created more than 50 spin out companies.

Funding has also been given to the Northern Ireland Technology Centre to deliver a digital engineering project.

Pilot projects with nine companies will form the basis for a wider promotional campaign highlighting the benefits of digital engineering to the Northern Ireland manufacturing industry.

The plastics industry is set to benefit from funding for the Polymer Processing Competence Centre - using it to increase its efforts to encourage the local plastics sector to develop new products in areas including medical devices, biodegradable plastics and recycling.

Other environmental benefits are set to follow with funding for a programme through which 20 small to medium sized companies will benefit from a three year link up with the Questor Centre - Europe's only industry/university cooperative environmental research centre.

University vice-chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: "We wholeheartedly commend Invest NI on its commitment to support the creation and growth of Northern Ireland companies through the funding of these exciting projects.

"Queen's, in turn, commits to effectively applying its wide range of technological knowledge and expertise to ensure successful project outcomes."

Tracy Meharg, MD of innovation and capability development at Invest NI, said the agency was committing an increasing proportion of its resources to investments which sought to commercialise intellectual property from public and private research bases in Northern Ireland.

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

"These projects 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."

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