“Travel not only broadens the mind but brings tangible economic benefits” individual researchers and representatives from universities and industry have been hearing at two seminars run by Invest Northern Ireland.

The seminars were organised by Invest NI’s Specialist European Directorate in collaboration with the Conference of Heads of Irish Universities and the UK Research Office as part of a two-day all-Ireland campaign to raise awareness of support available under the European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) to encourage knowledge transfer throughout Europe.

The keynote speaker at the first seminar, Dr Begoña Arano of the European Commission informed an audience that included researchers and representatives from industry and academia, of opportunities to undertake post doctoral academic or industrial research across Europe, and for Northern Ireland companies to supplement their research capability by offering Research Fellowships to researchers from across Europe and the rest of the World.

Speaking at the conclusion of the seminars, Tracy Meharg, Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development at Invest Northern Ireland said; “The knowledge and experience which individual researchers can gain by working in different countries will, on their return, significantly add to the research excellence which already exists in Northern Ireland and underpin the development of the knowledge-based economy. In addition, organisations hosting experienced researchers from overseas can benefit from the transfer of their skills and know-how.”

Referring to the second seminar, which focused specifically on the European research and development funding available to Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs), Ms Meharg said “Many of our SMEs have significant potential to innovate but limited research capability to do so. Under FP6 they can make use of the vast research capability which exists across Europe, while retaining the resulting intellectual property.

Under FP6 the EU has allocated Euro 2.2 billion for SME focussed R&D representing the largest financial support for research and innovation specifically by SMEs in the world.

“Through Invest NI’s promotion of the full range of schemes available, we seek to develop and transfer research competence, widen researchers’ career prospects and promote excellence in European research” she concluded.