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Supporting excellence in Northern Ireland

24/01/2019

Supporting excellence in Northern Ireland

An Irish village

From cybersecurity and immersive technologies to restoration Shakespeare, new diagnostic tools and aerospace, Northern Ireland is home to world class research and innovation.

On 29 January, UKRI hosted a reception at Ormeau Baths, the new home to the Digital Catapult that is supporting the innovation community in the heart of Belfast.  The event celebrated the diverse research and innovation excellence in Northern Ireland and provided an opportunity to discuss future ambitions.

Hosted by UKRI Chief Executive Professor Sir Mark Walport, speakers included Heather Cousins Deputy Secretary, Higher Education and Investment Group; Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor and President of Ulster University; and Professor Máire O’Neill, Institute of Electronics, Communications & Information Technology at Queen’s University Belfast and Director of UK Research Institute in Secure Hardware and Embedded Systems (RISE).

During the day, Professor Walport also visited Randox Laboratories and Bombardier, both home to successful collaborations, before meeting business start-ups at the Digital Catapult.

Digital Catapult Northern Ireland, part of UKRI-funded Digital Catapult UK, helps organisations across public and private sectors, to increase innovation and productivity by using digital technologies. It is a space that gives organisations of all sizes the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the latest immersive technology, including augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality, enabling them to demonstrate, innovate and test their own business ideas and research. Digital Catapult Northern Ireland works closely with a network of organisations from all over Northern Ireland, who share in the mission of supporting companies based in the area to grow.

New projects in Northern Ireland include supporting a £50 million investment in three new research and development centres of excellence for clinical diagnostics and a £13 million collaboration to boost the flourishing creative sector, part of the £80m UK-wide Creative Cluster programme.

UKRI investment in Northern Ireland includes:

  • More than £78 million invested in active research projects
  • £46 million support for more than 120 innovative companies funded

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Sir Mark Walport said:

 “Research and innovation excellence in Northern Ireland plays an important role in the UK’s success on the world stage. Its universities, innovation networks and leading businesses are an integral part of the UK’s research landscape. With UKRI support, they are pushing boundaries in areas such as healthcare, digital technologies and aerospace.”

A selection of photographs from the reception at Ormeau Baths can be viewed below.

Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland
Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland
Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland
Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland

 

Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland
Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland
Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland
Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland

 

Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland
Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland
Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland
Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland

 

Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland
Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland
Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland
Attendees at the Ormeau Baths reception, Ireland

 

Investing in excellent research and innovation in Northern Ireland

 

UK Research and Innovation invests more than £78 million in research programmes in Northern Ireland and a further £46 million in support for 124 innovative companies. Highlights include:

Researchers RISE to cyber threat challenge

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast are leading the fight against cyber threats at a new institute focused on hardware security.

The Research Institute in Secure Hardware and Embedded Systems (RISE) is supported by UKRI and the National Cyber Security Centre, and led by Professor Maire O’Neill from the Centre for Secure Information Technologies at Queen’s University.

Working with colleagues from the universities of Birmingham, Bristol and Cambridge, they are leading research to ensure hardware in devices ranging from personal computers and mobile devices to smart meters are protected from a growing array of cyber threats.

Fighting global antimicrobial resistance

Randox Laboratories, a market leader in the development of diagnostic solutions for hospitals, clinical, research and molecular labs, food testing, forensic toxicology, veterinary labs and life sciences in Northern Ireland, is leading a £50 million investment in three new research and development centres of excellence for clinical diagnostics to drive significant healthcare improvements through earlier, more accurate diagnosis.

Since 2015 it has been awarded more than £2.5m in grant funded from UKRI including a grant of £700,000 as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) to further develop its state-of-the-art ‘freeze-drying’ technology.  This enables the components of vital diagnostic kits to be manufactured, stored and transported more effectively, producing better and speedier diagnoses and reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics.

Designing the aircraft of the future

Three projects aimed at improving the environmental performance of future aircrafts are underway at Bombardier in Belfast. 

The projects are exploring more efficient manufacturing processes, new technology for engine covers and the application of composite material to large aerospace structures, such as wings and fuselage. Around 100 employees at the Belfast plant will be directly involved in the projects.

They are three of 18 research and technology projects announced in 2018, supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute and UK Research and Innovation.

Creating social and cultural impact

A creative industries partnership has been established to accelerate growth through new product development, services and high value skills for jobs in the flourishing creative sector in Northern Ireland.

The £13 million Future Screens NI venture, a collaboration between Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University and local industry partners, including the BBC, is the largest single investment in the creative industries in Northern Ireland.

The project will focus on the extant animation and games clusters by developing new hardware and software solutions. 

Future Screen NI is one of nine Creative Industries Clusters across the UK aimed at increasing the use of digital technologies to improve audience experience in the screen and performance industries and shorten production times in the design industry.

The Creative Industries Clusters Programme, which is part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, is an £80 million investment into collaboration between the UK’s internationally renowned creative industries and universities from across the UK.

Boosting local innovation and productivity

Digital Catapult Northern Ireland is connecting businesses with the UK’s research and academic communities.

The Immersive Lab in Belfast is a digital space that gives organisations of all sizes the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the latest immersive technology, including augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality to demonstrate, innovate and test their own business ideas and research.

Catapults are not-for-profit, independent technology and innovation centres. They connect businesses with the UK’s research and academic communities.

Innovative ways to improve health and manage disease

The Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast explores the mechanisms of disease to develop innovative therapeutics and diagnostics to improve health and manage disease. The centre was funded by £21m co-investment from Wellcome, the Wolfson Foundation and Atlantic Philanthropies, and a £10 million award through UK Research and Innovation.

 

Transforming healthcare with data science

The National Institute for data science in health, Health Data Research UK (HDR-UK), has launched its Wales and Northern Ireland site as part of an initial £54 million investment to transform healthcare through data science.
Queen’s University Belfast and Swansea University have been selected to work with NHS partners as one of the six substantive sites through a rigorous internationally peer reviewed competition.

This innovative partnership will take advantage of the ground-breaking science that is already happening at both universities and enable HDR-UK Wales Northern Ireland to make bigger advances in health research, by partnering with other universities across the UK.

HDR-UK is a joint investment coordinated by UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI’s) Medical Research Council, working across UKRI through its Economic and Social Research and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Councils, in partnership with several other organisations.

Restoration Shakespeare

Performing Restoration Shakespeare is an international and multidisciplinary project that investigates how Restoration Shakespeare used to be performed (between 1660-1714), and how it can be performed today. It brings together Queen’s University Belfast, Syracuse University, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Globe Theatre, and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

When London theatres reopened in 1660 upon the restoration of the monarchy, few new plays were available. Logically, the patent companies staged works by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. But they did not perform Shakespeare's plays the way that the dramatist's company had done. The project focuses on the performance dimensions of Restoration Shakespeare by forming a community of scholars and artists who together will undertake archival study, run studio-based workshops, and create public performances.

 

Clinical trials

A UKRI supported research collaboration at Queen’s University Belfast has led to the creation of a potential new cancer therapy that is currently undergoing clinical trials in solid tumours.

Turning brainwaves into physical movement

Neuroconcise, a spin out from Ulster University funded through the ISCF, to develop wearable neurotechnology for movement free interaction with technology won the 2018 Innovation of the Year award at the Institution of Engineering & Technology’s Innovation Awards in November.

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