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New project to boost local businesses

12 March 2013

Businesses in the south-west of Northern Ireland are to become more competitive in the renewable energy sector following collaboration between South West College and Queen's University, Belfast, the Employment and Learning Minister, Dr. Stephen Farry has said.

The environmental research and innovation partnership is an agreement between the College's InnoTech Centre and the QUESTOR Centre at Queen's and will focus on Energy from Biomass with potential for expansion into other sectors. The agreement is a result of ongoing collaboration coordinated through the Department for Employment and Learning's Connected Programme.

The Minister said: "I welcome the signing of this agreement which today formalises the on-going collaboration between the InnoTech Centre at South West College and QUESTOR. By pooling their resources both organisations will provide high quality technical services in a wide range of disciplines to support local companies and accelerate commercial exploitation of new ideas and processes.

The partnership proposes the installation of new shared facilities, including the up-grading of existing laboratories at QUESTOR and further capitalisation of a full Scale Anaerobic Digestion Demonstration Facility located near Omagh, and the development of a dedicated test facility at the College's Skills Centre in Enniskillen.

Malachy McAleer, South West College Director, said the collaboration would be a catalyst to accelerate economic development.

He said: "Innovation is critical for the continued growth of the renewable sector. Northern Irish companies in the clean and green sector require dedicated R&D support if we are to achieve ambitious targets for renewable energy and develop ideas into products, profit and jobs. This unique collaborative partnership brings together the expertise and resources of two centres of R&D excellence within the Higher and Further Educations sectors with distinct areas of economic development expertise. The combined knowledge of both can provide a coherent service capable of meeting industry needs and bridging a known technology transfer gap."