Pictured at Titanic Belfast (from left to right) are Irish Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton TD, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster MLA. All three speakers were attending a conference, organised by InterTradeIreland and the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland, on building closer links in the fields of research, innovation and science. Photo M T Hurson/Harrisons.
Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn visited Parliament Buildings where she met with the Principal Deputy Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Francie Molloy MLA, and addressed members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT), members of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment and the Committee of the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister.
The Commissioner gave the keynote address at the "Collaborate to Innovate [77 KB] " conference, organised by InterTradeIreland and the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland, where she highlighted that innovation is a central building block in all parts of the Horizon 2020 programme, as well as underlining the importance of turning innovative ideas into products and services that create growth and jobs.
"Northern Ireland is rightly declaring its ambition as a centre for innovation in Europe. We must all ‘collaborate to innovate’ to fix Europe's economy and tackle the global challenges faced by our society," said Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn.
Following an informal discussion with ministers on the Northern Ireland Executive Sub-Committee on the Economy, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn met with First Minister Peter Robinson MLA and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA.
The Commissioner welcomed the determination of the Northern Ireland Executive to support the EU's aim to put innovation at the heart of government's drive to foster entrepreneurship and growth of jobs and economic activity.
The Commissioner also visited the Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre (NIACE) in Belfast where she saw how universities, research institutes and companies are pooling their resources to maximise the return from investments in research and development in the form of concrete benefits for business. She also heard how small and medium-sized business will be encouraged to engage in these processes and will benefit directly from the experience and knowledge of fellow researchers.
Finally, the Commissioner visited the research facility at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Hillsborough, to discuss Northern Ireland's research strengths in the fields of agriculture, animal health, food, environment and biosciences. Here she saw how government, universities and companies were working together in support of the agri-food sector, which today is one of the most successful sectors of the Northern Ireland economy.
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