Queen’s University Belfast has appointed a new executive director for its £58m Global Innovation Institute, an expansion of the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) which will be completed in the next three years.
David Quinn, who has had a 30-year career in business consultancy and is a former consulting partner in PwC in Northern Ireland, has taken up the role which will see him lead the Belfast Region City Deal-funded project.
GII aims to transform Northern Ireland’s digital economy by substantially increasing both the volume and range of digital innovation taking place within the region.
Scheduled to open in 2025, it will house more than 550 experts at its Titanic Quarter site, including researchers already based at ECIT, as well as new posts and others who will be co-locating from a wide range of companies and external partners.
The team of researchers will build on ECIT’s core expertise across cyber security, advanced wireless technologies, data science and analytics. Within a multi-disciplinary environment, experts from a range of sectors will be developing research in areas including health data, agri-food and Fintech.
Mr Quinn said: “The City Deal investment in GII represents a once in a generation opportunity to place a research institute with sufficient scale and critical mass to compete globally at the heart of Belfast’s emerging Innovation District, in line with the Department of Economy’s 10X Vision.
“I feel privileged to undertake the role as Executive Director and to contribute to a very vibrant and collaborative innovation ecosystem that has emerged so strongly here in recent years.
“GII will be an accelerant for high value jobs and growth for years to come while bringing solutions for agriculture and environment, healthier lives and our healthcare system.
“I’m committed to working towards improvements in the economic and social circumstances of all the people of Northern Ireland in collaboration with industry and government partners. A more prosperous, inclusive and healthier place is simply a better outcome for everyone.”
As part of the Belfast Region City Deal, the UK Government and Northern Ireland Executive are providing £170m funding towards three Queen’s-led Centres including GII, the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC) and the Institute of Research Excellence for Advanced Clinical Healthcare (iREACH), while an additional £30m will be invested by the University and its partners.
Mr Quinn takes up his new role as Dr Godfrey Gaston, currently executive director of ECIT, retires this summer after 18 years’ service at Queen’s.
Professor Ian Greer, vice-chancellor of Queen’s University, explained: “I am delighted to welcome David Quinn to the role of Executive Director of the new Global Innovation Institute at an exciting time for the University as we deliver three cutting-edge facilities under the Innovation Pillar of the Belfast Region City Deal.
“Having held senior roles in business in Northern Ireland, he brings exceptional experience which will support GII to build on areas of research strength, key to our local economy, as we focus on collaborative university-industry R&D to harness additional investment, create new jobs and accelerate inclusive growth.
“I would also like to pay tribute to Dr Godfrey Gaston as he retires after 18 years with the University, most recently holding the role of ECIT Executive Director. Godfrey has made a remarkable contribution to lead the University to the delivery phase of GII and we wish him a very happy and well-deserved retirement.”
Professor Máire O’Neill, ECIT director, added: “I look forward to working alongside David to realise the vision for GII with our talented and ambitious colleagues. David’s extensive industry experience combined with our established research roadmap will ensure GII delivers on bringing cutting-edge solutions for more secure communications, data-driven healthcare and a safer environment for all.”