Fifty science parks were represented at the first annual general meeting of the United Kingdom Science Park Association which was held in Belfast recently.
The two-day visit, hosted by Northern Ireland Science Park, included a meeting with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment as well as tours of Stormont and Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.
Leading the UKSPA team was Chief Executive Paul Wright, who said: “The role of NISP as a catalyst for innovation by bringing together talented people, world class connectivity, mentoring and business support was exceptional.
“Many delegate felt inspired by how NISP has successfully brought together industry, government and the academic community to create demonstrable benefits for the local economy.
“We are really grateful for the opportunity to see such a clear demonstration of the value that our members are bringing to economic growth in the UK.”
Delegates were addressed by NISP speakers who included CEO Norman Apsley, former Board member John Allen, Steve Orr, Director of NISP CONNECT and Alan Watts, Director of Halo,
They also heard from Caroline McGoran from the University of Ulster; Stephen Wray, Commercial Director of CSIT; Stephen Houston of Sophia; and Scott Kennedy, Partner at Cleaver Fulton Rankin.
UKSPA board director Mervyn Watley, of NISP, said: “Our visitors were amazed at the progress that has been made by our Science Park in such a short timeframe - in the last five years we have become one of the Top 5 science parks in the UK. That’s really at breakneck speed!nWe excel, partly thanks to devolution, in the development of strategic integrated links between science, academia, business and government.
“Also, NISP is on the verge of opening a satellite site in Derry-Londonderry to serve the North West, a distance of over 70 miles away from the parent site, an ambitious development which is unheard of among other UK science parks.”
There are 78 science parks across the UK. The Northern Ireland Science Park, which was set up under the Belfast Agreement, has over 100 tenant organisations, 2,000 employed onsite and puts £80m in wages into the NI economy.