Business

Queen's University an 'economic anchor' in Northern Ireland

Ryan Feeney of Queen's University, Belfast

QUEEN'S University in Belfast contributes £1 billion to the local economy by generating over 10,000 jobs and connecting Northern Ireland internationally, according to a recently published report.

Universities UK detailed the "significant" contribution in a recent publication, highlighting the impact Queen's University makes both socially and economically in Northern Ireland.

With a clear track record in this regard, the Belfast university is regarded as an economic anchor in the region, attracting business and investment, as well as enriching cultural and community life.

And, with Northern Ireland now the second fastest growing regional economy in the UK, it plays a key role in ongoing expansion – as evidenced by an outstanding record in innovation and technology transfer.

"Queen's has continued to build on its established strategy of fostering an entrepreneurial culture and promoting the successful transformation of good research into good business, through innovation and commercial development," said president and vice chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston.

"In December 2014, the university's venture spin-out company, QUBIS Ltd, celebrated its 30th anniversary – QUBIS companies currently have an annual turnover in excess of £190 million and sustain 1,700 high value jobs in the north."

Spin-out companies include Andor (recently acquired by Oxford Instruments) and Kainos, both now highly successful global enterprises, making an enormous contribution to the economy.

Queen's is number one in the UK for its participation in Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP), which help small companies to innovate and grow their businesses through the transfer of people and knowledge.

Since 1993, it has collaborated on 350 successful KTPs, leading to careers for 400 KTP Associates and generating £350 million in increased profits for the Northern Irish businesses involved.

In addition, engagement with small businesses through innovation vouchers, competence centres, collaborative networks and innovate UK funding schemes, are a vital part in building Northern Ireland's competitive, innovative and export-oriented companies.

"We are proud of the impact we have on our local people and our community," Professor Johnston said. "We are first among the UK's leading universities for widening access. Presently 32 per cent of our young first degree entrants are from lower socio-economic groups.

"We recently launched the “Pathway to Opportunities” programme which provides a route for talented young people from Northern Ireland who have the ability to study at Queen's University, but who may require additional support and encouragement. to reach their full potential."

The initiative, part of the university's commitment to promote equality of opportunity and diversity among students and staff, includes a series of workshops and seminars, both at the university and online, as well as a summer residential.

A strong tradition of student volunteering is synonymous with the university and last year, over 3,000 students gave their time to work with a range of community and voluntary organisations.

Projects included the running of homework clubs across inner city Belfast, though which students provided mentoring to primary and post-primary pupils in youth clubs and community organisations.

"Many of the skills fostered and developed in our students through these projects not only underpin and encourage self-development and personal fulfilment, but are transferable and relevant to serving the needs of an adaptable, sustainable and global knowledge-based economy," Professor Johnston added.

:: The 2017 Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards take place in Titanic Belfast on Thursday June 8. Today is the last day to enter the awards (for more information and to book a table visit www.irishnews.com/wea).

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