US tech giant Nvidia and Queen's University to collaborate on £5.4m AI project

L-R: Nvidia’s Prof Sakir Sezer; QUB vice-chancellor, Prof Ian Greer; Economy Minister Gordon Lyons; and Invest NI’s Dr Vicky Kell.

QUEEN’S University Belfast has announced a £5.4 million research and development (R&D) project with US multinational tech group Nvidia.

The initiative, which will seek to accelerate artificial intelligence, machine learning and cyber security research, is to receive £1.7m in grant support from Invest NI.

Ten new specialist engineering and research roles will be created at Nvidia’s Belfast base, which is to be re-designated as a research hub for advanced network intelligence.

The Nasdaq-listed Californian tech giant already enjoys a global reputation for its graphics processing units (GPUs), used in modern computer graphics.

The new R&D project will look to develop Nvidia’s next-generation data processing units (DPUs).

Professor Sakir Sezer, principal architect at Nvidia, said the plan is to seek out highly skilled researchers and PhDs at Queen’s University, as well at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) and the Global Innovation Institute (GII), in the Titanic Quarter, to explore research challenges around AI-centric cloud and data centre security.

The GII is among the projects to receive funding under the Belfast Region City Deal.

“This project is an important step in greater engagement between Nvidia and the university, and we look forward to welcoming the new engineering staff joining us for it,” he said.

Queen’s vice-chancellor, Professor Ian Greer, said: “The allocation of this funding will have a hugely positive impact on the cyber security sector, both locally and globally.

“This partnership with Nvidia is an excellent opportunity to work collaboratively on world leading research and it is vital that we continue to do this in tandem with our industry partners. In doing so, we are investing in the skills of the next generation of leaders in cyber security and progressing the Northern Ireland economy.”

Invest NI’s innovation director, Dr Vicky Kell, said: that securing the prestigious project was a testament to Nvidia’s confidence in its Belfast workforce.

“The company has a proven track record for using innovation to stay ahead of its competitors and translating ideas into successful commercial reality," she said.

“This project, which we are supporting with a £1.7m grant for research and development, will strengthen the skills, technical capabilities and standing of Nvidia’s Belfast engineering team and encourage a knowledge spill over within the Northern Ireland development community.”

Welcoming the announcement, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “Collaboration between industry and academia is an important driver of innovation and growth in technology and I’m pleased to see this partnership between Queen’s University Belfast and Nvidia.

“Investments like this are supporting my department’s 10X economic vision and positioning Northern Ireland on the global innovation map amongst the best small economies.”

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