RAF to establish Belfast 'innovation node'

The RAF's new Belfast innovation node was announced during a meeting with industry and academia at Hillsborough Castle on Thursday.

THE RAF has announced the establishment of an innovation base in Belfast.

The RAF said the new ‘innovation node’ will be located in the city’s Titanic Quarter and will act as a conduit for academia and business to engage in research and development into the broader service with a view to growing the supply chain here.

The announcement came during an RAF event at Hillsborough Castle, attended by representatives from the industry, academia, innovation and cyber sectors.

The Air Force Main Board also attended the event, representing the first time it has sat in Northern Ireland.

The Ministry of Defence described increased engagement regionally through RAF Industry Days, which work alongside the NIO, ADS Northern Ireland, Queen's University, and Invest NI.

The node represents the next stage of this collaboration.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, said: "Investing in Northern Ireland's exceptionally strong cyber talent pool is a smart move by the Royal Air Force.

"They will benefit from the innovative cyber capabilities that exist here, as well as the vibrant and highly sophisticated advanced engineering sector.

"Northern Ireland is already being positioned as the number one international investment location for US cyber security development projects, and I am delighted that the Royal Air Force are becoming more involved with the NI cyber ecosystem."

Grainne McVeigh, Invest NI’s director of advanced manufacturing & engineering added: “The establishment of a regional innovation node by the RAF will tap into Northern Ireland’s world-class cyber security research and talent pipeline.

"Northern Ireland’s strong infrastructure, combined with ambitious plans for the development of an innovation ecosystem, will support advanced manufacturing and digital technologies and provide a firm basis to build upon Northern Ireland’s reputation for Smart Design.”

Dr Leslie Orr, ADS NI director said: "The aerospace industry in Northern Ireland is globally renowned and there are great capabilities in cyber and digital technologies.

"On behalf of the industry in the region we very much welcome this RAF announcement to establish a Regional Innovation Node. We look forward to working together to grow the industry opportunities.”

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