Northern Ireland’s drive to become an innovation-led economy received a major boost today with the opening of a £4 million research centre of excellence into diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Enterprise Minister, Angela Smith, officially opened the Centre for Functional Genomics at the University of Ulster, Coleraine.
The specialist facility, located within the university’s Centre for Molecular Biosciences, uses knowledge created by global research into human genes to probe life-threatening diseases such as cancer, diabetes and other conditions. The centre of excellence is also contributing to work on next-generation drug treatments through global partnerships with researchers in other universities and institutes.
Speaking at the event, Angela Smith said: “This impressive centre is an important addition to Northern Ireland's capability in cutting-edge research. It will enable Northern Ireland to benefit from and to contribute to pioneering and exciting DNA research worldwide into new strategies, diagnostics and therapies for dealing with major diseases that annually claim millions of lives.
“This centre will provide opportunities for local biotechnology companies to benefit from its knowledge, innovative research and highly developed skills and expertise. The centre will also thrive in the conditions created by the university and Invest Northern Ireland to encourage new university spin-out businesses or existing businesses to exploit intellectual property arising from its work.
“The Centre is strengthening the profile of the University of Ulster and Northern Ireland within the global Life Sciences community thereby helping to attract inward investment by companies keen to benefit from the research and from access to the extensive scientific skills base,” she added.
Invest Northern Ireland and the Department for Employment and Learning are providing around £2 million for the centre through the EU “Peace II” funded Research and Technology Development (RTD) Centres of Excellence Programme.