NI's Potential To Pioneer Fourth Industrial Revolution Highlighted

Disruptive technology has the potential to make Northern Ireland a world pioneer in the fourth industrial revolution, business leaders in Belfast have been told.

That was the key message delivered at an event hosted by the Institute of Directors Northern Ireland (IoD NI).

'Disruptive technologies shaping our future' was held at Ormeau Baths as part of the IoD's Young Directors Forum, sponsored by Barclays.

Locally made products were presented, including a programme that accurately creates models of body parts to assist medical diagnoses, using advanced 3D printing, designed by axial3D.

Meanwhile, B-Secur showcased HeartKey, technology that analyses people's unique heart signatures to unlock a wealth of applications spanning user identification and health monitoring.

Addressing an audience made up of business leaders from across various sectors, Adrian Johnston, Director at Digital Catapult Northern Ireland, an advanced digital technology innovation centre, said the region's full potential could be unlocked "through collaboration, inspiration, and technology".

Adrian said: "Digital is an absolutely huge global sector that is going to be growing exponentially over the coming years, so it was identified as one of the key strategic areas to drive the acceleration of immersive technologies.
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"What we aim to do is demystify immersive technologies around artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, future networks and help businesses to identify where it benefits them.

"One of the main challenges is the cost and costs associated with digital transformation. That is why we provide a facility where people can access the technology which also helps to grow knowledge and further break down barriers around digital transformation."

The event also heard from Niall Haslam and Catherine Coomber of axial3D and Alan Foreman of B-Secur.

Heather White, Business Development Manager at IoD NI, said: "The way in which people interact with information, and each other, is experiencing a fundamental shift at present, and immersive technology has a major role to play.

"The possibilities offered by immersive technology are endless, and with our strong tradition of innovation in Northern Ireland, supported by organisations such as Digital Catapult, I have no doubt our region will be at the very heart of developments."

Gavin Campbell, who sits on the IoD Young Directors Committee and is Relationship Director at Barclays, which sponsors the Young Directors series, added: "This event looking at the possibilities of disruptive and immersive technologies, comes at a really important time locally.

"For companies that embrace such technology now, particularly in manufacturing and engineering, there is a major opportunity to gain a competitive edge in the global marketplace as businesses across the world race to become part of the fourth industrial revolution."


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