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Press release

Innovation and R&D key to competitive Northern Ireland economy

09 November 2012


The challenges and opportunities in developing Northern Ireland’s economy through innovation and research & development (R&D) will be the subject of an event at Parliament Buildings next week.

Politicians and government representatives will hear from experts from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Telefonica Europe, Asidua and Schrader Electronics who will reinforce the urgent need to invest in innovation and R&D to boost Northern Ireland’s economy.

The event is being held by the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment in conjunction with the Engineering Policy Group Northern Ireland, and Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT).

Dr Mike Short CBE from Telefonica Europe and past IET President will explain the economic importance of R&D and innovation to the economy, particularly with government, academia and industry co-operation.

He said: “Northern Ireland’s future global competitiveness depends on a highly skilled STEM workforce.  It is these engineering and technology skills that will underpin innovation and the introduction of new ideas that contribute to, and boost, the economy.”

Professor Jonathan Wallace, EPGNI Chair, said: “The central role of science, engineering and technology to a prosperous economy has never been so important.  In today’s global markets, some countries are getting ahead of the game, but they are also potential customers for Northern Ireland’s high technology goods and services. These countries may also be looking to invest in the region, so it is vital that we tap into this to ensure the long term resilience of our economy.”

Other speakers at the event, which takes place on Monday 12 November, will include: Prof Jim McLaughlin OBE from the University of Ulster, Prof James C McElnay from Queen’s University Belfast and Dr David Evans from the UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board.  Patsy McGlone MLA, Chairperson of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment will chair the event.

The event follows on from the publication of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s “Developing the Northern Ireland Economy through Innovation, Research and Development” report, published in May 2012.

Media contacts to:

Robert Beahan
External Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1438 767336
Mob: +44 (0)7595 400912
Email: rbeahan@theiet.org

Notes to editors:

About the EPGNI:

The EPGNI (Engineering Policy Group Northern Ireland) acts as a two-way link between the profession and local government in Northern Ireland.

Members include the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Institute of Physics in Ireland, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Institution of Civil Engineers and BCS - the Chartered Institute for IT.

Its two main tasks are to provide engineering feedback into government thinking and to proactively raise matters of importance with government.  It is a body of senior advisors chosen to represent the engineering profession in satisfying these needs specifically for Northern Ireland.  The policy panel comprises senior members from Northern Ireland industry, academe and professional organisations engaged with Northern Ireland issues.

For more information, visit: http://www.theiet.org/policy/panels/nireland/index.cfm

The Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s “Developing the Northern Ireland Economy through Innovation, Research and Development” report can be downloaded at: http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/Assembly-Business/Committees/Enterprise-Trade-and-Investment/Reports/Report-on-the-Committees-Inquiry-into-Developing-the-Northern-Ireland-Economy-through-Innovation-Research--Development/

About the IET:

Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespersons.

The IET is Europe’s largest professional body of engineers with over 150,000 members in 127 countries.

For more information, visit www.theiet.org

Follow the IET on Twitter.