LONDON A £40 million research centre has been officially opened in Belfast to exploit the region’s expertise in areas ranging from SoC and high frequency electronics to DSP for communications and telecommunications software.
Set up by Queen’s University, Belfast, the Institute for Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) is based at the Northern Ireland Science Park in Titanic Quarter.
ECIT’s 40,000sq ft building houses laboratories, offices and one of the largest RF (microwave and millimetre wave) anechoic chambers in Europe. The three-storey centre is staffed by 120 academics, senior research staff, post-doctoral fellows, research students and administrators.
They include 40 industrial and academic researchers who have been recruited recently and TDK, the Japanese electronics company, has located a six person R&D unit in the new facility.
At present, the Institute accommodates five teams whose interests cover areas such as broadband wireless communications, electronic data security, video and image processing, telecommunications software and antenna design for mobile communications. Already, research undertaken by the teams has led to important advances in areas such as cryptography, video-on-demand and high speed image processing.
The Institute’s activities are overseen by an advisory board comprising local and international industrialists representing companies such as BT, Infineon and Xilinx. Also on the board are senior researchers from universities worldwide. These include the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Aachen, the universities of Oxford, Manchester and Cambridge and the Tyndall (electronics) Institute at University College Cork.
The Institute is led by director, Professor John McCanny FRS, an expert in the design of complex silicon chips for electronics and video communications applications. Professor McCanny says the centre will seek to provide a healthy balance and rich mixture of speculative 'blue skies' and strategic/industrial research.
“ECIT will combine advanced high technology research with mechanisms to create and nurture related high technology companies in their early phases. These fledging companies will then subsequently move out to other facilities in the Science Park,” he said.
Funding for the initiative has totalled £40 million. Of this Queen's is providing £26.4 million, Invest Northern Ireland, £8.4 million and Northern Ireland’s Department of Employment and Learning, £5.2 million.