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The University of Ulster is playing a key role in Northern Ireland’s economic recovery with its wealth of industry relevant research and knowledge accessed by over 5000 companies annually, according to Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Barnett.

Professor Barnett was speaking at the university’s Celebration of Innovation showcase event, attended by over 150 business leaders, academic based researchers and spin out companies.

Over the last five years Ulster has helped license 37 new technologies into business, supported 21 new spinout companies and helped local firms to secure £21 million of venture capital funding to exploit research.

Professor Barnett said: “Each year, the University of Ulster undertakes 5000 business interventions through its Office of Innovation, the central point used by companies to access and commercialise academic research.

“Firms which access knowledge-based support from the University of Ulster show an average annual growth rate of 12 per cent, demonstrating the power of new products, processes and concepts for companies of all sizes, across all industry sectors.

“ The University of Ulster is building upon its existing reputation as a leading knowledge provider, and will continue to play a vital role in Northern Ireland’s economic recovery.”

At the event, keynote speaker Tim Wheeler of local rock band Ash, discussed the impact of changing technology on the global music industry and outlined his strategy for managing the impact of rapid technological advances.

Former UK Government minister Sir Richard Needham, now senior independent director of Dyson, highlighted the challenges facing one of the world’s most successful brands and reinforced the importance of modern business systems and creative design for business survival and growth.