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30th Nov 2012

Hobbit Star To Deliver Chancellor's Lecture

GRADUATE FOCUS FROM AROUND THE PROVINCE

UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER

Actor Sir Ian McKellen, CBE, is to deliver next year's Chancellor's Lecture at the University of Ulster which will be held in the Magee campus for the first time.

The renowned stage and screen actor will also receive the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (DLitt) from the University for his services to acting at the event on February 3, which coincides with Derry~Londonderry's year as City of Culture.

The award will be conferred at a VIP ceremony on the campus by the University'sChancellor, Dr James Nesbitt who co-stars with Sir Ian in Peter Jackson's forthcoming movie, 'The Hobbit'.

Sir Ian will be the sixth distinguished speaker to deliver the annual Chancellor’s Lecture, following in the footsteps of the Irish Republic's Taoiseach Enda Kenny who delivered the lecture on the Belfast campus in April 2012.

His work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction and he has many television, film and stage appearances to his credit.

The Magee campus is home to the University's School of Creative Arts, offering degree programmes in drama, dance, music, design and creative technologies.

University of Ulster Pro Vice Chancellor and Magee Provost, Professor Deirdre Heenan said the campus was honoured to host next year's Chancellor's Lecture:

"The University is delighted to recognise an actor of Sir Ian's standing with an honorary doctorate and that he has also agreed to deliver next year's Chancellor's Lecture," she said.

"It is also wonderful for Derry~Londonderry as the 2013 City of Culture that this event is also coming for the first time to Magee and it will no doubt be a highlight for the city and for the University."


QUEEN'S

Two Northern Ireland men have been named as UK Business Leaders of Tomorrow for their roles in successful Knowledge Transfer Partnerships between Queen’s University Belfast and local businesses Hughes Insurance and Macrete Ireland Ltd.

David Quinn, from Coalisland, and David Sandford, who is originally from Birmingham but now lives in Newtownards, are among only five individuals from across the UK awarded the title in recognition of their outstanding contributions to their KTPs.

KTPs are partnerships between universities and companies who need access to skills and knowledge in order to innovate.

The news was announced by David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science at the national Knowledge Transfer Partnership Awards in London today.

David Quinn was KTP Associate for Queen’s and Toomebridge company Macrete Ireland Ltd, while David Sandford was KTP Associate for the University and Newtownards-based Hughes Insurance, where they worked on challenging projects to help their companies grow, innovate and boost profits.

Queen’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson, said: “I congratulate David Sandford and David Quinn on their achievement. This latest success is another tangible example of how businesses across Northern Ireland are benefitting from working alongside Queen’s in order to innovate and grow their businesses, both at home and abroad.

“KTPs bring together the key elements of research and commercial application to deliver sustainable benefits to all parties. Their impact on local business, wealth and job creation has been immense. Business leaders are increasingly aware of the value of collaboration with Queen’s, and of the impact of knowledge transfer activity on the Northern Ireland economy.”

David Sandford worked alongside Queen’s School of Mathematics and Physics to develop new ways to improve Hughes Insurance’s customer contact activities. The collaboration enabled the company to embed new advanced analytics technology and expertise in the business, which contributed to a 4.5 per cent increase in customer retention figures.

The industry standard in this field is based on a generalised type of statistical modelling. David created a new method, which was superior and just as robust. Under his direction, it was adopted and commercialised, going live ahead of schedule, and is now fully operational across the entire operation.

David said: “The KTP was a unique opportunity. It gave me the confidence, with the University’s backing, to suggest and make major changes within a business, which would otherwise have taken significantly longer to achieve or be outsourced to external consultants.”

David Quinn, from Coalisland, received a Business Leaders of Tomorrow award in recognition of his work with Macrete Ireland Ltd to devise the FlexiArch – a ‘flat pack’ precast concrete solution that allows durable arched bridges to be constructed quickly and easily.

David’s challenge was to develop double radius FlexiArches which could be deployed in a wider range of scenarios than the established semi-circular version. David developed the new product six months ahead of deadline, designing and overseeing production, construction and testing.

Tracy Meharg, Invest NI’s Executive Director of Business Solutions, said: “KTP offers businesses an innovative, cost-effective and flexible option to help them address business issues. These awards are an opportunity to showcase the commercial rewards of collaboration and underline how it is vital for local companies to embrace innovation and a culture of continuous improvement in order to remain competitive.”

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