Academy President Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE has completed a two-day tour of Northern Ireland and Ireland this week with Tom Leahy FIAE, President of the Irish Academy of Engineering, to promote their shared mission to promote engineering as a catalyst for good, irrespective of jurisdiction, and to nurture the engineering innovation skills that both Academies see as the bedrock of economic recovery.
The visit started in Belfast on 14 October with Sir Jim officially opening the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub in Ormeau Baths, celebrating a successful first year, during which it has supported four new NI-based entrepreneurs to set up and grow their operations.
The Academy hopes that the Belfast hub will be the first of several regional enterprise hubs, creating a local community of engineering entrepreneurs and embedding them within regional innovation ecosystems across the UK. It builds on the success of the Taylor Centre at the Academy’s London base, which has helped the Enterprise Hub support more than 230 entrepreneurs since it was established six years ago, who have collectively raised over £350 million in follow on funding.
Sir Jim McDonald said:
“Across the island of Ireland, there is huge strength in engineering innovation in a wide variety of industries and disciplines. With a total population smaller than London, or San Francisco’s Bay Area, it rivals both for scale and breadth of research strength and business innovation. It makes sense for research entrepreneurs from the South to consider collaboration with Northern Ireland’s formidable industrial strengths in aerospace and materials.
“Just as innovators from the north can benefit more from proximity to the major industrial facilities and prowess in ICT, pharmaceuticals and the biosciences south of the border, I hope that the Enterprise Hub Belfast inspires and connects the next generation of innovators across the island of Ireland, and between all of our islands.”
Joined by Dr Bryan Keating CBE, Co-Chair of the NI Women in STEM Steering Group, Sir Jim McDonald will also sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the NI Department for the Economy, formalising an agreement between the organisations to work together to deliver an engineering talent programme in Northern Ireland, inspired by the Academy’s Welsh Valleys Engineering Education Project. The agreement will be signed at an event marking the relaunch of Belfast’s Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre (NIACE) as an Innovation R&D Centre partnership comprising Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University and the National Composites Centre. The partnership works closely with Spirit AeroSystems and a wide range of NI companies on R&D, skills and technology development.
Sir Jim and Mr Leahy travelled to Dublin on the Enterprise Train service, using the opportunity to learn about Translink’s Climate Positive Strategy and provide insights from the Royal Academy’s policy and engagement “Engineering Zero” campaign, in the run up to COP26.
Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive, says: “We are accelerating our actions to decarbonise public transport to become net zero by 2040. Today was a great opportunity to meet with the two Presidents to collaborate and learn more about the exciting engineering strategies and solutions helping to create a sustainable future for our planet.
“Translink has already launched zero emission hydrogen buses and will next spring add a further 100 electric and hydrogen buses to the fleet. It is certainly a very exciting time to be part of the transport and engineering sectors as we work together on these ambitious zero emission solutions that will make a massive positive impact on climate change. We look forward to our continued collaboration as we work to build a better world for all of us.”
On 15 October the two Presidents met with the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, in Dublin to discuss the role of engineering innovation in responding to global crises, including climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Notes for Editors
- The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone.
In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public.
Together we’re working to tackle the greatest challenges of our age.
- The solutions to today’s most complex economic and social challenges lie in the minds of the brightest engineering and tech entrepreneurs. The Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub helps them turn their ideas into reality and become exceptional business leaders by providing funding, training, networking and mentoring from the nation’s leading engineers, without taking a penny in return.
- The Irish Academy of Engineering was founded in 1997 as a non-profit company limited by guarantee by a group of senior members of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland (now Engineers Ireland). It is distinct from and independent of Engineers Ireland and is an all-Ireland body. It is a registered charity.
The Academy aims to advance the wellbeing of the country by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to policy makers on matters involving engineering and technology on a pro bono basis.
For more information please contact: Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. +44 207 766 0636; email: [email protected]