Research at the University of Ulster generated over £29 million for the Northern Ireland economy in the academic year 2008/9 – up almost £18 million on the previous year.
Funding awards were made to each of Ulster’s six faculties and across all four campuses, highlighting research excellence throughout the University, with major research awards going to medical technology, bioengineering, energy efficiency and nutrition.
Ulster’s research teams were awarded grants totalling £21 million, including approximately £3 million from the UK Research Councils, and a further £8million research capital funding was also generated
Professor Norman Black, Pro Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation said that research undertaken at Ulster over the past year has more than fulfilled expectations:
“Research and Innovation at the University of Ulster continues to grow and to make major contributions to the economic and social wellbeing of Northern Ireland and beyond. This past year has seen us climb to a position where we are in the top third of research institutions in the country and are, again, amongst the top performers in the UK in translating our research and research expertise into significant economic benefit.”
Cross border research projects funded by the Department for Employment and Learning under its Cross Border R&D Funding Programme accounted for the substantial increase in research funding from previous years with five Ulster research teams awarded grants totalling £7.7 million to conduct collaborative research projects with sister universities in the Republic of Ireland.
The largest awards of the year went to five cross-border projects, which included:
Cross-Border Centre for Intelligent Point of Care Sensors (£1,991,280): partnering with DCU and led by Professors Jim McLaughlin and Chris Nugent (Faculty of Computing and Engineering). This proposal is to develop a sustainable world-class cross border Centre for Intelligent Point of Care Sensors (CIPS) for real-time monitoring and analysis of multiple disease specific markers.
Energy storage research (£1.5 m): partnering with DIT and NUI Maynooth and led by Professor Neil Hewitt of the Centre for Sustainable Technologies in the Faculty of Art, Design & Built Environment. The principal aim of this research project is to assess the extent to which the existing and future built environment can provide local energy storage and virtual bulk thermal and electrical energy storage.
Computational Neuroscience Research (£1,535,807): partnering with TCD and led by Professor Martin McGinnity, School of Computing and Intelligence Systems. This project will develop accurate computational models of brain regions affected during depression. The CNRT will bring together the skill sets of prominent and complementary research centres - the Intelligent Systems Research Centre (ISRC), at the Magee campus of the University of Ulster and Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN), at Trinity College Dublin. They will address brain research from traditionally opposite ends of the research spectrum, one from an engineering and computing aspect, the other from a psychological, neuroscientific and medical approach.
Functional Biomaterials Research (£1,389,140): partnering with NUIG and led by Professor Brian Meenan of the Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials Research Institute in the School of Engineering. The research will address key challenges in the areas of medical devices, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
Nutrition and Bone Health Research (£1,242,392): partnering with TCD, UCD and UCC and led by Professor Helene McNulty of the Biomedical Sciences Research Institute. This project will establish an expert research capability for the study of nutrition and bone health, aimed at identifying strategies to prevent osteoporosis. This crippling bone disease is a serious public health issue, costing the UK's NHS over £1.8bn annually with major health, economic and social consequences.