Defence Innovation Targets Business World with £700,000 Investment

Knowledge-based industries have the potential to add greater wealth to the local economy but this can only be realised if rates of technology transfer from research to business are significantly increased, Leslie Morrison, Chief Executive, Invest Northern Ireland said today.

Mr Morrison was speaking at the new Defence Diversification Agency (DDA) offices which were officially opened in Belfast as part of a £700,000 investment by DDA, supported by Invest NI. The new offices will allow cutting edge technologies to be easily accessed by Northern Ireland businesses through an expansion of the DDA’s existing local operation.

“Technology transfer is vital to the success of a knowledge-based economy in Northern Ireland. The commitment demonstrated by the Defence Diversification Agency will facilitate local industry in harnessing the commercial potential of defence technology,” said Leslie Morrison, Chief Executive of Invest NI.

He added: “Successful technology transfer produces new products, improved processes and business efficiencies. Greater access to the expertise of specialist research and development organisations will increase the rate of transfer, enabling industry to become more innovative and competitive, and create wealth for the wider community.”

By working closely with Invest NI, the DDA has been providing real commercial gains to client companies. The new DDA premises, based at the Innovation Centre in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, will offer Northern Ireland businesses an expanded range of services and expert advice to assist in exploiting the potential of publicly-funded research and technology.

“We are delighted to be building on our previous successes in Northern Ireland with the opening of these new offices,” said Professor Damien McDonnell OBE, DDA Chief Executive. “Local firms are already developing world-beating new products, taking advantage of technology transferred by DDA from the defence science base.”

He added: “It has long been acknowledged that injections of science and technology from the Ministry of Defence can inspire innovation and wealth creation. Through these new offices, local industry, in particular the SME sector, will gain a significant competitive advantage with easy access to a comprehensive body of knowledge and expertise.”

Examples of defence technology which have been applied by the business world through DDA include: novel sensors for enhanced health-monitoring devices; textile technology which has been applied in the prevention of railway accidents; object tracking for TV sports coverage; and specialist optical technology from the stealth arena used in pencil manufacturing.

Commenting on the DDA and Invest NI announcement, Norman Apsley, CEO of the Northern Ireland Science Park said: “The raison d’etre of the Science Park is to facilitate technology transfer and I’m delighted that not only is the DDA based in the Innovation Centre, but that they will be expanding their activities. Over the next 10-years Government aims to increase UK R&D spend as a percentage of GDP by over 30% - initiatives such as this will help turn that target into a reality.”