About Intelligent Systems Research Centre

About the Intelligent Systems Research Centre.


Our vision is to develop a bio-inspired computational basis for Artificial Intelligence to power future cognitive technologies.


Our mission is to understand how the brain works at multiple levels, from cells to cognition and apply that understanding to create models and technologies that solve complex issues that face people and society. To accomplish our mission we use a variety of research strategies and applications including big data and machine learning, brain imaging and neural interfacing, human-computer interaction and robotics.

Research Themes

Our cross-disciplinary research focuses on six interrelated research themes:

  • Computational Neuroscience and Neuromorphic Engineering: Modelling cellular and network level brain function to understand intelligence and pathology and creating biologically inspired algorithms and hardware.
  • Cognitive Neuroscience and Neurotechnology: Developing intelligent signal/image processing to probe and understand brain dynamics, structure and function and producing technologies that maintain, enhance, augment and restore physical and cognitive function.
  • Cognitive Robotics: Creating robotic ecologies that have human-like sensing capability for seamless interaction through complex object recognition, vision and tactile sensing, task allocation, manipulation and more.
  • Intelligent Data Analytics: Achieving fundamental advances in AI and scalable computing to solve the most challenging data analytics problems faced by people, industry, society and government.
  • Spatial Computing and Future Human-Computer Interaction: Studying people’s interaction with text, voice, gesture, Augmented/Virtual reality (AR/VR) and developing new contexts for computing through wearables and technology everywhere.
  • Cyber Security and Web technologies: Developing secure and connected technologies that operate intelligently to deliver context aware knowledge and actions in real-time.

Over 20 years of Innovation and Investment

Our research is enabled by over 20 years of experience and focus on developing fundamentally new AI algorithms in areas such as self-organising fuzzy neural networks, type-2 fuzzy logic systems, spiking neural networks, predictive modelling and analytics, computer vision, evolutionary algorithms, accelerated computing on FPGAs and bioinspired hardware self-repair.

Translating research into technologies that catalyse innovation in small and large enterprises, we have been instrumental in attracting inward investment to NI and developing the knowledge economy in Northern Ireland.

ISRC co-locates researchers, engineers and commercial development experts and directly building innovation capability in SMEs and large industry locally including core partners such as Seagate and Allstate.

Our Achievements

Excellence in Research

  • 90% of Ulster’s computer science research environment rated world leading or internationally excellent (REF 2014).
  • We are ranked 21st and 16th out of 89 universities for our research power and total number of research staff (REF 2014).


We are collaborating on multimillion-pound projects :

  • UK Research Council funded projects valued at £3.4m
  • multiple EU INTERREG VA grants valued at £18m
  • a £3.7m Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) programme
  • H2020 grants

ISRC projects

‘Recent ISRC projects that include significant aspects of AI/data science in their operational plans’.

  • Centre for Personalized Medicine (£11m)
  • Functional Brain Mapping facility (£5m)
  • MIDAS (Meaningful Integration of Data, Analytics and Services) (€4  .5m)
  • Centre for Precision Medicine (€8.6m)

Spin Out

Our strong commercial focus has led to successful spin out companies:


An AI-enabled, wearable neurotechnology

See https://www.neuroconcise.co.uk/

  • Best Start Up, Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) Innovation Awards 2018
  • Innovation of the Year, IET Innovation Awards 2018


Se https://www.actionsense.org/


See https://www.airbrio.com/

Legal Innovation Centre

ISRC collaborated to establish a UK first of its kind Legal Innovation Centre with support from global firms Allen & Overy (A&O) and Baker McKenzie, following on from successful £1m in Capital Markets programme supported by multiple fintech businesses.

See https://www.ulster.ac.uk/legalinnovation/

How we connect and complement

The  ISRC is the centre of operations for the Cognitive Analytics Research Laboratory (CARL).

Bringing together businesses, government and research expertise this university-wide initiative aims to use research excellence in neuro-inspired cognitive analytics, machine learning and computational intelligence, to establish Northern Ireland as world leading for data science and analytics.

The centre applies real world application areas and challenges defined by industry partners across multiple sectors to make a real world impact.

The objectives of CARL are to:

  • Process data for companies, providing knowledge to improve productivity, develop new technologies and position them to be globally competitive.
  • Enhance the capability of businesses to process live streaming data for the successful realization of Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) which will increase operational efficiency, reduce costs and diminish risk to the industrial world.
  • Contribute to smart manufacturing, services, healthcare provision and beyond
  • Ensure optimal use of resources by using predictive analytics and real time intelligent (cognitive) analytics to make machines smarter and aid smart systems integration.

Closely aligned with industry

Closely aligned with industry our key stakeholders include, but are not limited to:

  • Seagate
  • Allstate
  • Kainos
  • Analytics Engines
  • Fujitsu
  • Zinc
  • NeuroCONCISE
  • United Healthcare/Optum
  • Pramerica

Joined up thinking at Ulster

See below for an overview of how the Intelligent Systems Research at the School of Computing, Engineering and Intelligent Systems (Magee Campus, Derry) links with the research at the School of Computing’s research groups (Jordanstown Campus, Belfast) and how the Cognitive Analytics Research Lab Links across the University and taps into expertise and data from multiple Ulster Institutes and initiatives.