Belfast Telegraph

City college unveils new £15m innovation campus

By Michael McHugh

A £15m economic development campus for the most deprived parts of north and west Belfast was unveiled today.

Enterprise, entrepreneurship and employability will be promoted by the Belfast Metropolitan College project, known as e3. It is expected to open in spring 2012.

Television and radio production studios, a hospitality training suite and manufacturing and engineering facilities will be provided to encourage innovation in its students.

The 5,000 sqm Springfield Road building will accommodate up to 350 people including students, school pupils, local businesses and community organisations.

College chief executive Marie Therese McGivern said: "We cannot ignore the difficult economic situation which we face and it is important that people seeking employment have as wide a range of skills as possible.

"e3 will allow students to push their potential as they develop their ability to find solutions, work collaboratively, communicate effectively and set and achieve targets whilst accessing leading edge equipment and facilities."

The development is funded by the Department for Employment and Learning, the International Fund for Ireland and Belfast Metropolitan College.

It is hoped the new building will be a model for the innovative use of new and emerging technologies with resources for testing renewable energies.

Employment Minister Sir Reg Empey said: "e3 will not only provide training in a range of cutting-edge subjects which will be much sought after in the modern workplace, but do so in an environment where business and education sectors can collaborate to meet the requirements of employer and employee alike."

The IFI contributed £5m to the project. Chairman Denis Rooney said: "It would be difficult to overestimate the very positive benefits this state-of-the-art building will have on the local north and west Belfast economy and also the wider Northern Ireland economy."

The Belfast Metropolitan College also has plans to open a Titanic Quarter campus in August 2011.

The 21,000 sqm building will be sited near the Odyssey Arena complex and will replace the college's Brunswick and College Square East buildings.

It will cater for approximately 2,500 full-time students.