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20th Nov 2012

£900k boost for Queen's engineers

By Claire Craig

QUEEN'S University has been awarded £900,000 to help turn science into jobs.

The money, awarded by the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, will boost the Northern Ireland engineering sector by helping the university create more successful companies, grow industrial collaboration and foster entrepreneurship.

It is part of a £60m total investment spread across 31 UK universities which is to be used to help learning establishments turn their best ideas into good business.

Making the announcement, the Secretary  said: "This investment I'm announcing today will help our leading universities become centres of innovation and entrepreneurship, generating commercial success to fuel growth."

The Impact Acceleration Account funding award was made by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) on the basis of previous research excellence and impact demonstrated by each University.

Queen's Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor James McElnay, said the funding will benefit the Northern Ireland economy and jobs' market:

"The Business Secretary's announcement is exactly the type of support Northern Ireland needs right now to ensure our brightest scientists and entrepreneurs can create a sustainable and secure path to continued job creation. In awarding this prestigious and competitive funding, EPSRC has recognised the strength and global impact of Queen's engineering and science research, and our reputation for successfully commercialising our best ideas and discoveries.

"This award will enable us to further accelerate the process by which our researchers develop their ideas to a stage where a company or venture capitalist will be interested in working with them to commercialise their work. We will also be arranging more impact secondments. These enable scientists and engineering researchers to spend time in a business environment and help researchers better understand the challenges companies face, allowing them to become better entrepreneurs."

The news has been welcomed by Queen's spin-out company,  Analytics Engines. Established in 2008, the Belfast-based company specialises in high performance data analytics and accelerated computing.

Chief Executive Officer of Analytics Engines Stephen McKeown, said: "Today's announcement is good news for Queen's and for the Northern Ireland business community. For companies like ours, funding of this type means we can bridge the gap between early stage research and reaching industry, and avoid the 'black hole' that many fantastic innovations and ideas fall into. It is vital that we continue to build a healthy support system for economic growth and I congratulate Queen's on winning this award."

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