17/09/2009

'Next Big Thing' Business Awards Loom

The countdown to a £25,000 commerce and business accolade and the announcement of the innovative 'next big thing' is underway today.

In a collaboration between academia and business next week's NI Science Park Connect £25K awards dinner will conclude the search for the 'next big thing' in NI's business and commercial world.

Sponsored by the Bank of Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland, QUB and the University of Ulster Business School, the awards night will be held on September 24 at Northern Ireland Science Park.

Demonstrating collaboration between business and academia, seven of the top 10 finalists shortlisted have been generated within NI's two main universities.

Four finalists from the University of Ulster include TrapCop, which allows steam traps to be monitored non-intrusively and reduces maintenance/monitoring and fuel costs as well as Tactility Factory, with its patented technology designs textiles specifically for integration into concrete.

The UU list also includes Rediscovery, a downloadable geo-specific audio visual content and SDW, which is a digital watermarking technique.

Backed by south Belfast-based Queen's University Belfast three finalists have made it through.

D-stone is a detecting device to eliminate breakage of harvesting equipment, while BeatBearing is an instrument that allows creation of rhythms by arranging ball bearings while InvasTech is a cancer examination technique to determine cell invasiveness and motility.

NISP Connect Director Steve Orr said: "The £25K Awards is a great opportunity to discover the next influential technology and the universities play a major role in this by breeding an innovation culture in Northern Ireland.

"The standard of entrants this year has been exceptional and time and time again QUB and UU are coming out on top," he said.

According to Invest NI's Managing Director of Clients and Entrepreneurship, Ian Murphy, such innovation is vital if Northern Ireland is to develop as a place to grow businesses selling high quality, cutting edge products and services worldwide: "Invest NI is committed to increasing the number of local research-led companies.

"We have a range of support services and programmes in place to help both new and established innovative enterprises to maximise their profits and generate higher wages and salaries for the economy.

"Our future economic success will greatly depend on the innovation of our people and I am encouraged to see the excellent standard of entries in this years £25k Awards," he said.

The awards have been designed to discover the 'next big thing' to come out of NI's research base and will aid them in their development from intellectual property concepts to market-ready products.

Mark O'Brien, Senior Commercial Manager, Bank of Ireland, said: "The £25K Awards is the perfect opportunity to help university students turn their business concepts into commercially viable products.

"Bank of Ireland is delighted to support this through sponsoring the awards, providing funding through the Essentials for Business package and offering expert advice."

(BMcC/GK)

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