Ranked in the top 1% of universities in the world (QS World University Rankings (2014)), Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) has been is a member of the Russell group - a group of 24 leading research-intensive-universities in the UK. A recent assessment (2014) by the UK national Higher Education Statistics Agency have confirmed that Queen’s University has been placed joint 8th in the UK for research intensity, with the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (participant in this application) ranked 6th in the UK for research impact in the Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering field (UoA 12). To date the university has won 38 Horizon 2020 grants (worth €15M) several of which as coordinator, including 4 ITNs, a RISE and 2 ICT projects. QUB were successful in 137 Framework 7 projects including the coordination of 19 multi-partner projects (representing more than €40Mio in research income). Within this were 5 ERC Grants and a number of Marie Curie Actions: 10 ITNs (3 as coordinator - ATWARM, ATBEST and ARTISAN), 7 IAPPs (3 as coordinator), 1 IRSES (as coordinator), and hosted 17 Individual Fellowships plus 5 CIG grants.
QUB are the UK leader in terms of spin-out activity, with 60 spin-out companies creating of over 1,200 jobs and bringing in a combined turnover of £146m. It is the 6th highest performing UK University in terms of IP revenue, with 15 patents granted – 12th in the UK in terms of highest performance with patents granted. The University is also ranked number one in the UK for participation in Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) which enable knowledge transfer to companies through University/Business associate partnerships.
Key to enabling this industrial engagement in the aerospace and manufacturing sector is the Northern Ireland Technology centre (NITC). For over 48 years, the NITC as one of Queens Universities industry facing “technology and innovation” centres have been “bridging the gap” between academia and industry specialising in developing technology from medium TRL to full industrial implementation. This is achieved through the facilitation of the application of technology for social and economic benefit through collaboration between education and industry. The NITC has experience in a wide range of sectors including aerospace, equipment, packaging, energy and manufacturing and has built a strong international reputation to help raise the local sector’s value proposition and competitiveness.
The Research and Enterprise Directorate supports proposal development and implementation through a number of specialist teams who are experienced in the management of European funded research projects (FP6 and FP7). These include Commercial Development (IP exploitation and patenting), Contracting (grant/consortium agreement), Governance (ethics) and Research Development (project development and management). Financial management is provided by the Research Support Office, which includes a dedicated Horizon 2020 Financial Officer and faculty-specific Research Support Officers. In 2012, QUB was awarded the European Commission HR Excellence in Research Award. The award recognises the systems and practices in place to support researchers’ career and professional development in line with the national Research Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and QAA Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes. These acknowledge alignment with the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for their Recruitment underlining that the university is committed to looking after its research staff and their development.
QUB is one of seven UK Universities to hold an Athena SWAN institutional Silver award (note: no university currently holds the Gold Award). The Athena SWAN awards recognise and celebrate good practice in recruiting, retaining and promoting women in academia, and the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering holds a departmental level silver award in recognition of good practice.