NI is leader of university science and tech spin-out firms

  • Northern Ireland is a leader for universities producing spin-out companies and intellectual properties, according to Matrix, The Northern Ireland Science Industry Panel.

    Matrix recently published a report on Strategic Innovation Opportunities in Northern Ireland, which was produced by Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre. 

    It shows that the region falls behind other UK areas in terms of innovation, but performs well in terms of commercialised university spin-outs, mostly generated by Queen's University Belfast. 

    KTPs (Knowledge Transfer Partnerships) have been strong in supporting knowledge transfers with Queen's and Ulster University being in the Top 10 Knowledge Base institutions in the UK.

    However, in the Invest NI Innovation Vouchers programme, the direction of travel is toward delivery by Further Education colleges rather than Universities.

    Manufacturing, construction and financial, professional and business services are the top sectors for KTP. 

    KTPs are reported to result in closer industry partnerships and better understanding of the industry – so policy interventions are producing effective outcomes.

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    Innovation remains relatively weak in NI relative to other UK regions and the EU average, however, there are opportunities to “level up” NI’s performance to catch up with other areas.

    The top three innovation active sectors in the UK Research & experimental development on social sciences & humanitiesComputer & related activities / ICT and Manufacturing of electrical & optical equipment are also areas of research strength in NI. 

    Professor Richard Johnston, Deputy Director of Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre, said: "As society looks beyond the disruption caused by COVID-19 and EU Exit, it is clear that the NI economy has significant potential to again, be world class in a number of areas. 

    "This study found that NI has an excellent record in science and research in subjects such as Pharmacy, ICT, Medicine, Engineering and Art & Design. There is extensive engagement ongoing between academia and the business base and a range of strategic innovation assets have been developed in NI. 

    "These include leading-edge research facilities and spin offs in sectors such as sustainable energy, biosciences, medical research, cybersecurity and engineering. 

    "These factors combine to place NI in a strong position to compete internationally in these area of strength, generate new and innovative products and drive economic growth for the next decade and more.’

    The full report can be found here.

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