New dedicated £2m medtech revealed for Ulster University

25 May 2017

Prof Gordon Wallace (right) from the University of Wollongong, Australia, helped launch Ulster University’s new ‘Health Technology Research Hub’ with Prof Jim McLaughlin, Ulster University. Image: Paul Moane/Aurora

The focus on future technologies in Northern Irish universities is showing no signs of slowing down, with Ulster University pinning its hopes on medtech.

Banking on cutting-edge technologies in some of the more creative industries is nothing new, though that doesn’t mean Ulster University’s latest foray into healthcare is anything to be sniffed at.

Bidding to profit from a health technology hub in its school of engineering, the university is replicating South West College’s recent attempt to become a renewable energy centre.

Plenty of backing

Four new positions will be created at the new £2m hub, which is expected to draw from the various other specialised areas at Ulster University.

These include the Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC), the Biodevices Lab, the Eastern Corridor Medical Engineering Centre (ECME) and the Centre for Advanced Cardiovascular Research (CACR).

Prof Paddy Nixon, vice-chancellor of the institution, claims Ulster University has already secured more than £20m in funding for health technology to date, making the decision to build a new hub a bit easier.

“Our research has resulted in the development of wearable medical sensors and implantable devices, and has improved drug therapy and rapid diagnostics. These advances are helping to move care out of hospitals and into the home, reducing pressure on the healthcare system,” he said.

“This new Health Technology Hub further enhances our ability to carry out pioneering research which could result in life-changing and life-saving technology and make a global impact on healthcare costs.”

The centre is expected to enable doctoral researchers from ECME to collaborate with industry-led researchers from CHIC and clinicians from CACR. The rapid prototyping ‘Biodevices Lab’ will provide equipment that can facilitate the conversion of ideas into working demonstrators in a matter of hours.

Industry interest

Through the new facility, the university wants to improve research outcomes and “optimise the potential of collaboration between researchers from industry and academia”, according to Prof Jim McLaughlin.

Last month, it emerged that a ‘renewable engine’ project was underway at Northern Ireland’s South West College thanks to support from the Special EU Programmes Body.

Armed with €5.8m, the project is a four-year initiative, aiming to increase the commercialisation of new products and processes within the renewable energy sector.

Project partners involved in the creation of the businesses include Queen’s University Belfast, Institute of Technology Sligo, University of Strathclyde, Manufacturing NI, Action Renewables and Mid Ulster Council.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic