Page content

Northern Ireland’s Economy Minister Arlene Foster today visited the University of Ulster’s Belfast campus to open a major conference focusing on engineering and manufacturing excellence.

Delegates from all over Ireland are on campus this week for the 29th Irish Manufacturing Conference.

It’s the first time the conference has been held at the University’s Belfast campus.

Speaking to delegates, Minister Foster gave a tour d’horizon of the  current state of the manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland, drawing  particular attention to achievements in the aerospace sector and  transport manufacturing.

She emphasised the importance of quality research and development, saying: “ It is  only through research and development that businesses can differentiate  themselves, and compete successfully in the modern world.”

The DETI Minister applauded the links between academic research and industry,  highlighting research and technology transfer activities that had  created successful university spinout companies, and had enabled  Northern Ireland firms to “move up the value chain”.

Welcoming Minister Foster and conference delegates to the campus, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard Barnett, said that links between academia and industry were enormously important for the future health of the economy and society.

“Over 100 engineers, researchers, academics and business leaders are attending this two-day conference," he said.

“It’s the research that's being carried out in our universities today that will power the engineering innovations of the future.”

“This event celebrates excellence in research, and excellence in manufacturing: our manufacturing sector is punching well above its weight in terms of getting Northern Ireland through the recession, but there is no doubt that we need more R&D, – and that the R&D effort needs to be spread more widely around the manufacturing sector.”

The two day programme brings to the University leading exerts in the manufacturing field, including:

– Gavin Campbell, Director of Engineering, Bombardier Aerospace
– William Egenton of Dromone Engineering
– Steve Newman, Professor of Innovative Manufacturing Technology, University of Bath
– Chris Buxton Chief Executive of the Processing and Packaging Machinery Association.

In addition to industry speaker sessions, a wide range of research papers will be presented by academic researchers from Ireland and farther afield.