Foster opens new collaborative research hub


Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster officially opened a new research facility today, which has resulted from a strategic partnership between Queen’s University, Belfast and Seagate Technology.

Ansin is a state-of-the-art research facility, established within Queen’s University Belfast’s, (QUB) School of Mathematics and Physics, which will focus on the development of advanced materials.

It was during discussions last year, regarding Invest Northern Ireland’s £12.7million offer of support for a £58million R&D investment by Seagate, that the Ansin concept was first proposed. As part of that project, Seagate has committed to a £1.7million collaborative research project with QUB which will fund 10 research posts at the university.

To help establish this R&D facility, Seagate has donated equipment with an estimated value of £7.5million and, in addition, has agreed to provide £250,000 to fund business development activities that will encourage other companies to participate in the hub’s research agendas.

Officially opening Ansin the Minister said: "This research facility at QUB represents an important collaboration between academia and industry, through which the wider industrial base will benefit from Seagate and QUB’s leading surface science and advanced materials technology capabilities.

"This concept is entirely aligned with the recommendations of Matrix, the NI Science Industry Panel, and it is anticipated the research carried out here will not only deliver direct benefits to Seagate, but will also enhance Northern Ireland’s commercial and research capabilities in areas such as medical devices, high frequency electronics, security products and ICT.”

Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: "I am delighted and proud that a global leader such as Seagate has chosen Queen’s as the location for Ansin, an industry-university collaborative research centre which will create real technological advances for many business sectors. Other companies will be encouraged to join Ansin and interact to support their own particular needs.

"Ansin builds on Queen’s internationally recognised research strength in advanced materials, with special reference to nano-structured media, to promote an ecosystem for the creation, transfer and exploitation of knowledge. This new facility will encourage further investment by indigenous companies and multi-national corporates in Northern Ireland."

Dr Kenneth Allen, Seagate's vice president of development, said the joint project with Queen's would not only contribute directly to Seagate's R&D learning but would also provide an ongoing flow of highly skilled engineers into local industry.

He added: "Ansin provides a unique opportunity to make a difference for Northern Ireland and for Seagate in the long term. By establishing this initiative, we hope to provide the spark which leads to a stronger base of magnetic and nanotechnology capability.

"The economic growth that's generated by these fields will happen somewhere. From our way of thinking it might as well be in Northern Ireland. We look forward to broadening our strategic partnership with Queen's and Invest NI. We encourage other corporate and academic entities to find out more about Ansin - how it can help their business or university and ways in which they can get involved in helping make it a success.