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400 Reasons to Invest in the North West

7 February 2013

Investment opportunities created by research and innovation at the University of Ulster have been showcased at a high profile event in London.

Professor Hugh McKenna, Pro Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation at Ulster, was one of the keynote speakers at the North West Investment Seminar in the Guildhall, London which was attended by business leaders and potential investors.

The event was to raise the profile of Northern Ireland as an investment location and to mark the 400thanniversary of the Honourable The Irish Society and itsunique relationship with bothLondon and the County of Londonderry down through the centuries.

Organised by Invest Northern Ireland, in association with The Honourable the Irish Society, The City of London Corporation and key stakeholders from the North West,the event culminated with a gala dinner attended by over 400 guests.

The University of Ulster has an international reputation for groundbreaking research at each of its four campuses and across all disciplines.

Professor McKenna highlighted examples of successful ‘spin-out’ companies - companies established through commericalisation of Ulster research - including HidInImage, Geopii, Intelesens, Sophiasearch and SiSaf.

HidInImage, developed by academics at the Intelligent Systems Research Centre at the Magee campus, the university’s newest spin-out company, gives a 21st twist to the ancient science of steganography.

Steganography is a way of writing hidden messages so that only the sender and intended recipient know they exist. HidInImage has developed a way to conceal and retrieve information fromwithin digital computer files.

Geopii (formerly known as Causeway Data Communications) developed out of research at Ulster’s Coleraine campus. The company provides GIS based products, services and related Internet technologies for the land and property services.

One of its most successful patented GIS mapping products is mass property valuation software used for local taxation estimation by local authorities in over 30 jurisdictions across the US.

The go-to-market methodology adopted by academics at Ulster’s four campuseswas endorsed by Professor McKenna.

"Our ongoing high quality research and development work can help local businesses to grow and thrive," he said.

“Ulster is a dynamic and innovative research institution with an excellent track record in the education and training of researchers.”

Professor McKenna continued: “We have a focus on applied research, innovation and knowledge transfer. Our established research culture underpins teaching and learning at the University of Ulster and, through our Office of Innovation, we have become a successful, business-facing university.”

Mr Eddie Friel, Head of Business Development at Ulster’s Office of Innovation said the university is committed to playing a full role in the economic and social development of Northern Ireland.“

The Office of Innovation’s primary role is to support Research and Development in the local economy and translate Ulster's knowledge and technology - Intellectual Property -into marketable products and services in the most effective and timely manner possible.”

Research Institutes at the University of Ulster’s Magee campus include Intelligent System, Transitional Justice, Nursing, Arts and Humanities, Irish and Celtic Studies. Research Institutes at Coleraine campus include Biomedical Sciences, Computing and Engineering, Environmental Science and Psychology.

The event was followed by a gala dinner which was addressed by Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, Northern Ireland’s First and Deputy First Ministers, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster, Minister ofEnterprise, Trade and Investment,Lord Mayor of City of London, Alderman Roger Gifford.Other guests at the event included former University of UlsterChancellor, Sir Richard Nicholls and former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Brooke.