For the first time, Northern Ireland participated at a World Expo as part of the UK pavilion.

Image of UK Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020
UK Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020

Expo 2020 Dubai ran until 31 March 2022 showcasing the achievement of countries across the world, celebrating culture, collaboration and innovation.

The UK was one of 192 nations participating, alongside non-government organisations and sponsors.

As Expo 2020 closes, the site will transition into District 2020: a new urban development in the UAE and that will focus squarely on curating a global innovation ecosystem and an integrated community lifestyle. The smart and sustainable mixed-use community will reuse at least 80% of the Expo built infrastructure. Find out more.

This mega event raised the profile of Northern Ireland and inspired visitors to learn more about the region. It was a great way for people to experience our world-renowned welcome, energy and creativity.

Mel Chittock, Interim CEO, Invest NI

Northern Ireland's Participation at Expo 2020 Dubai

Working closely with the Department for International Trade (DIT), Northern Ireland played an integral part of the UK Pavilion's activity and the wider Expo programme across the six months; from business, education and culture.

Northern Ireland day at Expo was an opportunity for Northern Ireland to shine on the global stage, sharing the best of our people and nation, from business to culture, investment to tourism and arts to education. 

The packed programme of activity included a public showcase highlighting Northern Ireland innovation, people and places, a business programme and an evening celebration of music, art and food. 

Throughout the day, business leaders, educators and innovators all came together for a series of panels and conversations to discuss Northern Ireland's unrivalled business opportunities.

Watch our panel sessions again:

  1. Journey to a Circular Economy - Challenges and Opportunities 
    This exciting panel session brought together leading experts from the region and from Northern Ireland to discuss the transition from linear to a circular economy.
    ▶️Watch again here
  2. Destination Northern Ireland: People, Passion, Pride
    Belfast born, Chris Hughes from Fintech Abu Dhabi led panellists from Northern Ireland and the UAE as they share their stories of why Northern Ireland is a great place to live, work, study, visit and invest.
    ▶️Watch again here

Swathi Sri, Head of Territory for IMEA, reflects on Northern Ireland’s involvement over the six months of Expo 2020 with Arabian Business, read the article here

Northern Ireland Participation in the UK at Expo Programme

Three NI companies: Ulster Carpets, See.Sense and Crop Safe featured as part of the UK Pavilion visitor experience. Click here to find out more about these companies and their use of smart technology.

More than 20 thought leaders from Northern Ireland lent their voice to the global discussions that took place on the UK pavilion as part of the UK’s six-month business Programme.

A two-day showcase by Lowden Guitars on 19th and 20th March transported visitors into the world of guitar making with an interactive engaging take over of the UK Pavilion Event space.

Northern Ireland Speakers in the UK at Expo Business Programmes

Participants from across Northern Ireland joined with peers from around the world to debate some of the key issues affecting our world and how we can work together for a better future for all. A number of our speakers featured in regional media publications sharing their expertise on topics of interest to the Middle East, including:

  1.  Prof Chris Elliot (QUB) & John McElhone (CropSafe) - The National  
  2. Iain Percy (Artemis) in Logistics Middle East 
  3. Andres Budo (Thompson Aero Seating/AWC Cabin Systems) - Arabian Aerospace  
  4. Andrew Jenkins (Arity/Fintech NI) – The National 
  5. Prof Chris Johnson (QUB) - Arabian Business 
  6. Jason McKeown (Neurovalens) - The National 
  7. Irene McAleese (See.Sense) - Khaleej Times 

Find out more about our speakers and the topics they covered below.

CREATE: In the future, how will we create?

Industry professionals explored how creative skills can be harnessed to solve social, technological, environmental and economic issues and build a more sustainable future.

  • Topic: Creating cities of the future

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    Chris Johnson leads the Faculty for Engineering and Physical Sciences at Queen’s University in Belfast.  Prior to that, he was Head of Computing Science at the University of Glasgow for six years. His research supports the engineering of complex safety and security-critical systems; ranging from accident and incident investigation through to contingency planning for European critical infrastructures. He has held fellowships from NASA and the US Air Force and has 250+ peer-reviewed publications. He worked with the US (NIST) and UK governments to model evacuation for large public buildings following the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks. In 2020, he was appointed as Expert Witness to Phase Two of the Public Inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire. In 2021, he has been working on an industry-led project extending UK MoD and US DoD guidance to support the integration of machine learning algorithms into a range of military systems. 

  • Topic: What if creativity has become too left-brained?

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    Dr Austin Tanney completed his PhD in biomedical science at the University of Ulster and has a career path that spans startups and multinationals from lab science to bioinformatics through to product management and commercialisation. Austin is currently the Head of Digital and Data Strategy at SIB and the Interim Head of Clinical Information for HSCNI. Before this, Austin worked in Kainos, where he established the companies AI practice and built the companies team and offering in Artificial Intelligence. Prior to this, Austin was the Head of Life Science and Healthcare for Analytics Engines where he was responsible for the development and commercialisation of the company’s products and data solutions for Life Science and Healthcare. During this time, he also served as the Scientific and Technical manager on the EU H2020 MIDAS project focused on data integration and analytics for public health policy. Prior to this, he held a number of roles in The Almac Group ranging from basic research and bioinformatics through product development to marketing and commercialisation of cutting-edge technologies and services. Austin has a passion for new technology and its impacts on our society and helps clients in the pharmaceutical, biotech, diagnostics and healthcare sectors derive value from their data.

  • Topic: Using the power of story to change culture

    ▶️Watch the Extraordinary Insights session here (Video)

    Colin Williams is a BAFTA-winning children’s television creator, showrunner and writer. 

    He founded Belfast-based Sixteen South in 2007 to create, produce and distribute quality television to every child in every home in every country and his work can be seen on all major networks across the globe. Colin has gained an international reputation for the highest quality work and has already created and produced 600 episodes of award-winning children’s television which have picked up over 50 international awards including the coveted Prix Jeunesse, two EMMY® nominations, a British Animation Award and a BAFTA. 

    Colin created and produced the hit mixed media animated series, Lily’s Driftwood Bay, sold to NickJr, KiKA and 120 other countries; created and produced WildWoods, a live action puppet sitcom for Hulu; devised Claude, based on the popular books for Disney Junior EMEA; co-created Sesame Tree, a co-production with Sesame Workshop, created Big City Park on CBeebies and Executive Produced Pinkalicious and Peterrific for PBS Kids, Pajanimals for Universal Kids and Big and Small for CBeebies. 

    Colin leads original development with two of his new shows, Odo and The Coop Troop in production and a busy slate of others in development with the networks.

TRAVEL: In the future, how will we travel?

From hyperloop to autonomous vehicles, speakers from across the UK explored how we can provide safe and sustainable transportation across the globe.

  • Topic: Change in the air - powering our future

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    Green entrepreneur Jo Bamford is one of Britain's most significant business leaders, ensuring zero-emission transport is at the top of the political and consumer agenda. 

    Jo rescued Wrightbus from administration in 2019 and turned it into one of the most important bus manufacturers anywhere in the world, creating the planet's first hydrogen double-decker bus and generating orders from London to Aberdeen. 

    Alongside this, his Ryze Hydrogen and HyGen Energy businesses will both manufacture and distribute green hydrogen - generated from renewable energy - with production plants in Scotland and the south east of England. 

    Jo has launched HYCAP, a £1bn equity fund designed to both create and drive investment in hydrogen infrastructure, and has been pivotal in the success of the Freeport East bid where a hydrogen hub will form the centrepiece of operations. 

    He is also a board member of JCB Ltd, one of the UK's largest industrial conglomerates, and spent eight years as managing director of JCB Utility Products, broadening the appeal of the company's extensive product range. 

  • Topic: Whose space is it anyway?

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    Andrew Jenkins is Director of Engineering at Arity where he leads work turning driving behaviour data into insights so businesses can provide more accurate and personalized experiences.   

    Arity is a mobility data and analytics company that provides data-driven solutions to companies invested in transportation, which enables them to deliver mobility services that are smarter, safer, and more economical. A broad range of companies including Insurance companies, automobile manufacturers, sharing economy companies, and mobile publishers turn to Arity to better understand driving behaviour, manage risk, operate more safely and ultimately increase their bottom line.  

    The Arity platform is built on billions of miles of historical driving data from nearly 100 million active telematics connections and more than a decade of data directly from cars. With offices in Northern Ireland and India and headquartered in Chicago, USA, Arity was founded by The Allstate Corporation and launched in 2016. 

    Andrew has more than 20 years of experience in technology across financial services, utilities, insurance, telecoms and transportation sectors. 

    In October 2019, Andrew was appointed as the UK Government’s Fintech Envoy for Northern Ireland. In this role, Andrew is the lead ambassador for Northern Ireland’s thriving fintech sector, promoting it as a place for firms to develop and grow their business. 

  • Topic: No one at the helm - autonomous sea travel

    Date: w/c 19 November 2021

    ▶️Hear about Artemis Technologies (Video)

    Iain is a four time Olympian, three time Olympic medallist and double Olympic champion.  He is also a veteran of four America’s Cup challenges, beginning in 2005 as helmsman for the +39 Challenge, before joining Great Britain’s America’s Cup challenge, Team Origin. After retiring from Olympic competition in 2012, he joined Artemis Racing as a tactician, and was appointed Team Manager in October 2013. Iain then went on to lead the team's successful 35th America's Cup campaign in Bermuda, reaching the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series final in 2017.

    Passionate about protecting the oceans, the economics graduate founded Artemis Technologies in 2017, with a mission to see how America’s Cup technology could play a part in the decarbonization of the maritime industry. He has overseen the company's transition from a sailing services provider, to an applied technologies company focusing on green innovations for marine transportation.

  • Topic: Are you sitting comfortably?

    Date: w/c 19 November 2021
    Time: To follow
    Link to event: To follow

    Neil has extensive experience in leading businesses and driving operational excellence within engineering, manufacturing and service

    Having joined BAE Systems in 2003, he rapidly progressed his career through a number of business functions within the Air Sector division including Programme management, Operations and In-Service support.

    In 2011 he moved to Survitec Group Ltd as Global Services Director, before joining Magellan Aerospace in 2014 as General Manager. In 2018, Neil joined Thompson Aeroseating as Chief Operating Officer, before becoming Vice President & General Manager in January 2020. Since the creation of AVIC Cabin Systems in 2018, Thompson Aero Seating and AIM Altitude have been working closely together and in January 2021 it was decided to bring together both companies under one leadership to strengthen their advantage in the market. At this point, Neil was appointed as Vice President & General Manager of both Thompson Aero Seating and AIM Altitude.

  • Topic: How can autonomous technology deliver, safe, efficient and sustainable transport?

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    Professor Adele Marshall is Professor of Statistics at QUB. Her research interests include Survival Analysis, Bayesian Modelling, Data Mining, Markov Modelling and Stochastic Models. She is also founder of Advanced Analytics Labs: experts in advanced data analytics and machine learning.

LEARN: In the future, how will we learn?

Industry leaders discussed how the education sector is developing tools and approaches to deliver high quality education and lifelong learning for everyone.

  • Topic: Learning without walls

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    A native of Ballymena, Northern Ireland, David Barr is Professor of Technology-Enhanced Learning at Ulster University.  His research focuses on the role of computer technology in learning and teaching and has undertaken research work at the Universities of Cambridge and Toronto.  He is currently Head of the School of Education at Ulster University and plays a key role in shaping teacher education in Northern Ireland.  Prior to this appointment, he was Head of the School of Modern Languages.  

    David has significant experience of working with a range of employers, public and government bodies to promote awareness of the importance of subject development for the local economy and has led significant developments in the modern languages as well as presently leading a review of provision in education.  He is also a leading expert in computer-assisted language learning, serving as associate editor for two leading international journals in the area, and is a member of the WorldCALL steering committee: a seven-person advisory group with representatives from all over the world to support the development and direction of computer-assisted language learning internationally and is chair of the WorldCALL International Scientific Committee. 

  • Topic: Women in IT

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    Deepa Mann-Kler is Chief Executive of Neon; Visiting Professor In Immersive Futures at Ulster University in Northern Ireland; an award winning visual artist and an exceptionally experienced public, private and charity sector Chair and Non-Executive Director, having served on 10 Boards across the UK over the past fourteen years. Neon harnesses the power of immersive technologies to create authentic augmented and virtual reality narrative driven experiences. This year the company launched AR Peace Wall and AR Street Art apps on iOS and android. 

    As a TEDx speaker and thought leader she regularly keynotes on the intersection of digital transformation, technical innovation, inclusion, ethics, bias, data and AI. Deepa is author of the first report on race discrimination with policy recommendations for the public sector in Northern Ireland "Out Of The Shadows." Her awards include Royal Television Society Finalist “Interactive Entertainment” 2017. WinTech Series Finalist “Tech Start Up Of the Year” 2018. TEDx Speaker “Being Human” 2019. Digital DNA Finalist “Tech For Good” Talking Sense AR App 2020. |

  • Topic: Teaching Entrepreneurship

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    Voted one of the top 3 Women in AI in Europe, Deva is a Computer scientist and full-stack software engineer who is passionate about creating smart software tools to help accelerate precision medicine-based drug discovery. She is the Co-Founder of the award-winning Digital data analytics company Sonrai Analytics. Sonrai houses a state-of-the-art AI data analytics platform, that helps Biotech, CROs and Pharma companies to identify high-value biomarkers, validate state-of-the-art algorithms, and get new lifesaving drugs to the market much faster. Currently, Deva also works as a Research Fellow at QUB working in Cardiovascular research and in her spare time she enjoys working on hobby robotics projects.

LIVE: In the future, how will we live?

Industry experts discussed how we can provide a sustainable quality of life to citizens in the future.

  • Topic: Sustaining a higher quality of life through minimising waste

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    Gareth joined Kiverco in 2007 as a Design Engineer where he worked in a team to design products and systems for the global waste industry. From there, he moved into the Kiverco Research & Development team to develop new products and new design features to improve how waste was processed and to enable more waste to be diverted from landfill. 

    In 2016, Gareth moved into Technical Sales as a Senior Engineer where he worked closely with customers all over the world to design waste plants for different waste streams. Gareth was appointed Head of Innovation for Kiverco in January of this year where his role now involves working closely with customers, technology partners and the entire Kiverco sales network to identify and provide the latest innovative solutions for segregating various types of mixed waste.

  • Topic: Age of smart city - solutions to support net-zero living

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    Irene is Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at See.Sense, a high-growth cycling technology and data company, on a mission to make cycling better. Irene leads go to market strategy, partnerships, government relations and pilot deployments, applying See.Sense patented sensor technology and data to improve the safety and experience of the rider and empower cities with powerful insights.  

    Irene is the Winner of the Northern Ireland Women in Business Award for Best Small Business, is listed in Cycling UK's 100 women in Cycling, and is an Ambassador to the Women in Cycling Network. Irene is also a Board Member of Cycling Industries Europe and member of the Expert Panel on Connected Cycling and ITS.  Prior to Co-founding See.Sense, Irene worked as a management consultant, leading organisational change programmes for global companies.

THRIVE: In the future, how will we thrive?

Healthcare and Life Sciences are going through unprecedented innovation and change. This programme explored how we can help people to live longer, healthier and happier lives.

  • Topic: Can small machines make us better?

    Professor James McLaughlin is the Director of Ulster University's Nanotechnology and Integrated-Bioengineering Centre (NIBEC) as well as Head of School of Engineering. A Fellow of the Institute of Physics and the Irish Academy of Engineering, he was awarded an OBE for his services to Research and Economic-Development. He is a Senior Distinguished-Fellow and his world-leading Digital-Healthcare-Technology research addresses nanotechnology and its application in areas such as cardiac point-of-care-sensors and medical-diagnostics. 

    Professor McLaughlin with a H-Index of 45, over 300 publications, 35 patents and has attracted over £70m of funding to establish research that has led to the establishment of NIBEC, CHIC, NICAM, NanotecNI, ECME, Biodevices Lab and BEST and is a co-founder of various successful companies including the wireless-patient-monitoring company Intelesens, SiSaF and the initial phases of Heartsine. He also led the successful global XPRIZE Tricorder Zensor team to overall 3rd position and has developed a wide range of industrial and international academic collaborations particularly in the areas of cardiovascular monitoring and therapies. 

  • Topic: The patient journey of the future: what will it look and feel like

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    Daniel Crawford is the Founder & Chief Strategy Officer of axial3D, a company creating automated solutions to make patient specific surgery routine practice in hospitals globally.  

    Daniel graduated with a BSc Hons in Biomedical Engineering and an MSc in Medical Visualisation and Human Anatomy. He has over 10 years experience in medical device development and deployment into clinical settings, 7 of which are specifically related to medical 3D printing and automated applications. Daniel is responsible for the strategy within Axial3D, including its machine learning algorithms for use in creating 3D printed models from 2D medical scans.

  • Topic: A totally new treatment regime

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    Professor Ian Greer FMedSci has been President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast since August 2018. He has extensive experience of university innovation driving regional economic growth, including cross-sector developments such as the Northern Health Science Alliance, a collaboration of eight Universities and NHS partners, and is the cofounder of the Health Innovation Research Alliance for NI.

    He is a strong advocate for University social responsibility including widening participation. He leads the innovation pillar of the Belfast Region City Deal, driving innovation in key sectors for the local economy - creative industries, health innovation, data science & analytics, and advanced manufacturing. He is currently President of Universities Ireland, promoting collaboration across the island, and a Council member of Research England.

    By way of background, he is a medical graduate of the University of Glasgow, with his research and clinical career in obstetrics & gynaecology. He has held senior leadership positions in several UK Universities, and was Vice President of the University of Manchester, immediately before moving to Queen’s.

  • Topic: The patient journey of the future: what will it look and feel like

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    Leeann is the Operations Director and Co Founder of Elemental Software. A tech for good organisation that supports the social prescribing ecosystem across the UK and Ireland through their award winning digital social prescribing platform.  Leeann has a long established track record in the community and voluntary sector engaging, activating and supporting our most disadvantaged communities towards better health outcomes.  Reducing health inequalities is her passion.  

EAT: In the future, how will we eat?

Food and drink and agritech experts gathered to explore how we will be able to feed ourselves in the future, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture for generations to come.

  • Topic: The importance of delivering food security and sustainability

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    Professor Chris Elliott, PhD, FRSC, FRSB, MRIA, OBE is Professor of Food Safety and founder of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast.  

    He has published close to 500 peer review articles relating to the detection and control of agriculture, food and environmental related contaminants. His main research interests are in the development of innovative techniques to provide early warning threats to the complex food supply system. Protecting the integrity of the food supply chain from fraud is also a key research topic and Chris led the independent review of Britain’s food system following the 2013 horsemeat scandal. He currently co-ordinates a very large research project involving 16 European and 17 Chinese partners on food safety.  

    Chris is a visiting Professor at the China Agriculture University in Beijing and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is a recipient of a Winston Churchill Fellowship and is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and Royal Society of Biology. In 2017 he was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Theophilus Redwood Prize and was also awarded an OBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He was elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2020. 

  • Topic: Keeping crops safe - remote monitoring focus

    ▶️Watch the Extraordinary Insights session here (Video)

    John McElhone, originally from Northern Ireland is the Co-founder and CEO of CropSafe, building satellite-powered analytics and financing for any farmer on earth. Previously, he has built and scaled social campaigns reaching millions across the world organically and has since left high school to focus full-time on CropSafe, in which he has recently raised funding to expand operations into the US. John was named TransferWise's 20 Under 20, top young CEO in Europe winner last year and is a current Interact 2021 Fellow. 

ADVANCE: In the future, how will we advance?

Global thought leaders from multiple industries gathered together to explore how technology will continue to shape every area of our lives in the future.

  • Topic: Unlocking the barriers to growth in UK tech

    ▶️Watch the summit session here (Video)

    Mark Dowds is a high-tech investor and entrepreneur with a track record of building international businesses over the last two decades, helping to get dozens of ventures off the ground in Canada, the United States and Northern Ireland. He was recently awarded an honorary degree of Science in Economics by the new Chancellor at Queen’s University, the former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for his contribution to N.Ireland. He is also the co-founder of Ormeau Baths here in Belfast.

    His latest venture in the FashionTech sector is called RESPONSIBLE. It is powering reCommerce and circularity for premium streetwear brands, enabling more sustainable businesses. It is headquartered in Belfast and attracting top talent and investment from around the world.

For further information about Expo 2020 please contact:

Emma Barber, Invest Northern Ireland Expo Programme Manager


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