Professor John McCanny CBE FREng FRS, Director of Queen’s University Belfast’s Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), welcomed Royal Academy of Engineering President Sir John Parker GBE FREng back to Queen's Island on 27 September as he began a two day visit to Northern Ireland to take part in the Northern Ireland Science Park's Festival of Innovation.

Sir John is a former Chief Executive of Harland & Wolff and this visit was the first time he has returned to the Queen's Island site, which is now home to ECIT and the NI Science Park, since leaving the company in 1993.

Sir John was accompanied by Dr Tony Barry, President of the Irish Academy of Engineering, during his visit to ECIT where they had lunch with Northern Ireland Fellows prior to touring the Institute and its facilities.

During the tour, Sir John met senior researchers, engineering and commercial staff who demonstrated some of the world class engineering research carried out at the Institute as well as founders of several ECIT spin-out and spin-in companies such as ACT Wireless and Aetopia.

Speaking during his visit Sir John said: "There has been a tremendous transformation on Queen’s Island since I left here 19 years ago. It’s wonderful to see the tremendous amount of scientific, engineering and research talent that has been assembled on this site, and the way it is creating tomorrow’s companies.

"Northern Ireland deserves to be promoted as a good place to do science, a great place for research in our universities and a grand place for innovation."

"We are all in this together and, because we can do so much more collectively, I believe in an industrial policy which is underpinned by a stronger relationship between industry, government and our universities."

Commenting on Sir John's visit to ECIT, Professor McCanny said:

"What we showed Sir John today is how we are taking the research base out of the University, out of the ivory tower, and bringing it much, much closer to business to accelerate the whole impact of research, engineering and its impact on economic development."

During his visit, Sir John also visited the NI Science Park, University of Ulster, and the annual £25K Innovation Awards organised by NISP. Sir John returned to ECIT on 28th September to take part in an Open Discussion: Optimising the contributions of our World-class Research Institutions within our Economy facilitated by Dr Norman Apsley FREng and featuring presentations from Professor John Boland, Director of CRANN at Trinity College Dublin, Prof John McCanny Director of ECIT and Mr Kieran Flynn, Head of Business Development at the Tyndall Institute at University College Cork.

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0636; email: Jane Sutton