Innovation and R&D in Northern Ireland

29 November 2012
IET Communications team
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Speakers at the recent Engineering Policy Group Northern Ireland event at Stormont.

Speakers at the recent Engineering Policy Group Northern Ireland event at Stormont.

Another successful IET event at Stormont.  

The IET’s Engineering Policy Group Northern Ireland, which acts as a two-way link between the engineering profession and the local government, held an event at the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Parliament Buildings in Stormont on 12 November.

Produced in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, the event addressed Northern Ireland’s economic need for greater activity and investment in research and development (R&D) and innovation.

A cross-section of Northern Ireland’s senior academia, industry and government stakeholders was in attendance, with Patsy McGlone MLA in the chair.

Speakers included immediate past president of the IET Dr Mike Short, IET policy panel chair Dr David Evans, and two industry members of the IET’s Engineering Policy Group Northern Ireland – Steve Thomson from Schrader Electronics Ltd, and Dr Steve Brankin of Asidua Ltd.

Professor Jim McLaughlin from Ulster University and Professor James E McElnay from Queen’s University Belfast set the scene on Northern Ireland’s areas of R&D expertise, and its position in a more global context.

Politicians and government representatives then heard from these experts about the challenges and opportunities in developing Northern Ireland’s economy through innovation and R&D.

IET principal policy advisor Graham Barber commented: “This was in the context that Northern Ireland has a very low R&D spend compared to all regions of England, and only half that of Scotland. Northern Ireland has to compete in global markets for its sale of goods and services. The view was that greater attention to innovation and R&D through collaborative industry and academia programmes, nurtured by government, would bolster the Northern Ireland economy.”

During the lively question and answer session that followed, the politicians recognised the importance of having a STEM-literate, flexible workforce, but reminded attendees that there were still thousands of people in Northern Ireland who were leaving the statutory education system unable to read or write.

In his concluding remarks, Patsy McGlone MLA thanked the IET and the Engineering Policy Group Northern Ireland for bringing together key stakeholders to discuss the subject. Graham Barber reported: “This had greatly helped him and other colleagues from his Committee to understand the practical situation and thereby make better informed recommendations to the North Ireland Government.”


More information

For more information on the Engineering Policy Group Northern Ireland or this recent event at Stormont, please contact Graham Barber.