Belfast Telegraph

Ulster tells G8 how we're engineered for success

By margaret canning

A serial entrepreneur whose medical imaging company has just made a multi-million dollar acquisition in North America will help showcase Northern Ireland's engineering prowess to senior global business leaders during day one of this week's investment conference.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) in Northern Ireland said tomorrow's G8 Innovation Debate to be held at Titanic Belfast would examine how the province can build on its strong tradition of innovation and engineering.

Jayne Brady, chairperson of the IET in Northern Ireland, said: "Potential investors from G8 countries attending the G8 investment conference will witness that Northern Ireland has the skills and infrastructure required for successful companies."

Dr Hugh Cormican, co-founder of Andor Technology plc and chief executive of Cirdan Imaging Ltd, which employs 20 people in Lisburn, will address delegates.

This week Cirdan Ultra in Lisburn – part of Cirdan Imaging, founded three years ago – announced it had bought the intellectual property and assets of the Centricity laboratory division of GE Healthcare IT, in collaboration with Kainos Software in Belfast.

The deal marked Cirdan's first acquisition.

GE is a global infrastructure, finance and media company – and tomorrow's panel will coincidentally feature Mark EM Elborne, chief executive of GE in the UK and Ireland. GE has over 19,000 employees in the UK and Ireland, with 60 sites including the Kelman Ltd electrical transformer monitoring business in Lisburn.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: "Cirdan's acquisition of the GE Healthcare subsidiary is an immensely encouraging start to a week in which we will be showcasing leading edge Northern Ireland technology and the advantages that we offer to international companies during a major international investment conference in Belfast."

Mr Cormican would not reveal the amount paid for the GE division – part of the global giant since 2003 – but it's understood its existing customers pay software support and maintenance fees of several million dollars every year.

Kainos Software will manage the software support on behalf of Cirdan under a three-year contract.

The entrepreneur who guided the flotation of Andor on the AIM in 2004 encouraged firms here to consider floating their companies on the stock market.

The eventual flotation of Cirdan was "certainly in our aspirations for three to five years time", he said.

"The markets are a great place to raise money and have a high profile."

Andy Hopper, professor of computer technology at the University of Cambridge – a past IET president and a businessman with 12 start-ups to his credit including Acorn Computers in the late 1970s – will deliver the keynote address at tomorrow's event.

Economist John Simpson will also be on the panel, along with David Sterling, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Mr Elborne, Dr Cormican and Prof Hopper.

Belfast Telegraph