18/12/2008

NI Medical Research Applauded

An investment project, worth almost £1 million, and which has creating nine new jobs, has been warmly welcomed by NI Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster.

The development by Belfast-based i-Path Diagnostics Ltd - supported by Invest Northern Ireland, QUBIS Ltd/University Challenge Fund, Crescent Capital and a private investor - will enable i-Path to focus on expanding its portfolio of market-leading products and increase its share of new and existing export markets.

A spin-out firm, from the internationally renowned Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen's University, i-Path specialises in software products for digital pathology, drug discovery and tissue research.

Welcoming the investment the Minister said: "Securing this investment during the current difficult global economic conditions demonstrates how businesses can compete in the global marketplace by embedding a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

"i-Path is a university spin-out company in the growing Life Sciences sector, a priority area that is actively targeted by Invest NI. The company is achieving commercial success based on the development of frontier technologies.

"Its cutting edge software products not only deliver major economic benefits but importantly contribute to the successful treatment of diseases such as cancer which depend on early and rapid diagnosis," she said.

One of the company's most significant advances has been in the area of digital pathology where new technology allows medical slides to be viewed online by specialists around the world, creating major opportunities for international collaboration and research, as well as improvements in university education and training of pathologists.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, a leading medical charity has congratulated both Queen’s University and the University of Ulster on their performance in a recent research assessment exercise.

Commenting on this exercise - which covers all universities throughout the United Kingdom - the Chief Executive of NI Chest Heart & Stroke, Andrew Dougal, said: "QUB has excelled in its research in medicine and the University of Ulster in its research in biomedical sciences.

"Many of the research projects in these institutions are funded by local medical charities. This is only possible because of the generosity of the Northern Ireland public.

"It is to be hoped that Government will continue to play its part in supporting the important advances which are necessary into both the treatment and the prevention of illnesses in Northern Ireland," he concluded.

(BMcC)

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