Dr Adrian Johnston

2019/20 Award Winner

2019/20 Award Winner

Dr Adrian Johnston MBE, Director of Digital Catapult Northern Ireland, has been named as the AIB/Ulster University Distinguished Graduate of the Year.

The Distinguished Graduate of the Year Award is sponsored by AIB (formerly First Trust Bank) and recognises graduates for outstanding achievement in their chosen field.

Adrian graduated from Ulster University with a PhD Informatics 2007 and BEng Hons DIS Electronics and Computing 2000.

Dr Johnston leads teams which drive early adoption of digital technologies throughout Northern Ireland.

Utilising his 20 years of industrial experience, he links opportunities across academia and industry to enable possible disruptive technology opportunities for NI organisations.  

Passionate about accelerating the adoption of emerging technologies across areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Immersive Technology, Distributed Ledger Technology, IOT and Future Networks Connectivity. Dr Johnston aims to promote NI's knowledge economy opening new business opportunities for the creative and technology sectors.

His work has successfully linked many academic institutions across the island of Ireland including the National University of Ireland Maynooth, Dublin City University, Ulster University and Queens University Belfast with pharmaceutical, semiconductor manufacturing, bioinformatics, agriculture businesses. He continues to engage with the research community and contributes to several panels on future UK AI strategy, funding and policy.

A key contributor to the design of Ulster University’s Cognitive Analytics Research Laboratory on the Magee campus Adrian is an important stakeholder and adviser on academic-industry projects, most notably those linked to Derry~Londonderry’s successful City Deal bid.

With a strong interest in community, youth work and economic regeneration (particularly in the North West of Ireland) he has served for 10 years on the board of the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), including seven years as Chairman until February 2019.

Each year a bespoke trophy is designed and produced by an Ulster graduate from the Belfast School of Art. This year’s designer is Leanne McCormack, who graduated with a BA Hons Ceramics, Jewellery and Silversmithing at the summer graduations in 2019.

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