Ulster University targeting key growth areas in the economy

Ulster University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paddy Nixon; Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research & Impact); Professor Liam Maguire, Executive Dean, Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment; John Healy, Allstate; Peter Devine, Head of Business Development (ISRC); and Greg McDaid, Fujitsu, pictured at the launch of Ulster University’s Cognitive Analytics Research Lab.

Pioneering research and development is making Northern Ireland more globally competitive.

With technology advancing at an exponential rate over the past few decades and particularly in the last couple of years, there has never been more scope for accelerating economic development than now. Despite the difficulties that have hit the local and global economies in recent times, innovation continues and Ulster University has been there every step of the way, with research that has a real and direct impact on Northern Ireland’s increasingly confident future.

Combined with the expertise of Ulster University’s scientists and researchers, the University’s investment in state-of-the-art equipment and facilities over the years has become synonymous with quality research aimed at creating positive change.

Ulster University’s Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Research and Impact, says: “As a research-led institution, Ulster University is focussed on delivering globally significant research with local relevance and to making a positive contribution to society.

“Already this year, we have announced our leadership in a number of key research projects in the areas of medical and renewable energy research, advanced manufacturing, data analytics and legal innovation. These will impact positively on both the local and global economy, encouraging growth in strategic areas.”

According to Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre Summer Outlook 2017, over the next five years the Northern Ireland economy will create a further 10,400 jobs largely driven by growth in the administrative and support services sector followed by professional services and information and communication.

Three collaborative UK and cross-border research projects involving Ulster University are currently underway, supported by €23 million of EU INTERREG funding. Focused on renewable energy, personalised medicine and connected health technology, this strategically important research will boost the UK economy by more than €29 million, with approximately €19 million of this being in Northern Ireland. The projects have also created 24 PhD researcher posts, boosting the wider Northern Ireland research environment and economy.

Collaboration is key to Ulster University’s approach to research. Ulster University is a partner in the new €8.5 million North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing project led by Catalyst Inc which has created a cross-border ‘super cluster’. Eight Health and Life Sciences businesses are working on 15 research projects aimed at developing new products and processes within this sector.

In March, Ulster University launched Northern Ireland’s first ever data analytics institute – the Cognitive Analytics Research Lab. Already renowned internationally for delivering expert data analytics, the University will build upon its own recent £30 million investment within this area, and has created 12 new research level posts through the centre.

The University’s new Legal Innovation Centre – the first of its kind in the UK – will be at the forefront of advancing the use of technology-driven innovation in legal services and legal education globally, bringing together academic and research expertise across the diverse disciplines of technology and law. It has been established with support from leading global law firms Allen & Overy and Baker McKenzie, both of which have established bases in Belfast in recent years.

The Agri-food Business Development Centre at Ulster University was launched in May with a focus of providing sector specific support through the promotion of agri-food business education, research and innovation. Research and innovation activity at the centre focuses on developing and improving products and processes, and seeking new market opportunities for agri-food business development and commercialisation.

“With opportunities to bring together different disciplines and to further develop our leadership in distinct sectors, our research makes a powerful contribution to how Northern Ireland can solve global challenges and create market opportunities,” adds Professor Gormley-Heenan.

“To ensure that our research has a positive impact for society, we will continue to engage with partners throughout Northern Ireland, sharing our research and building new knowledge together.”

Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan


Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research & Impact


T: +44 (0)28 9036 6132


E: c.gormley@ulster.ac.uk


W: www.ulster.ac.uk/research

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