A number of innovative projects are being developed by Ulster University which will be funded as part of the Derry City Deal.
In a detailed report laid out by the Council’s Chief Executive, John Kelpie, and experts from Ulster University (UU), local councillors were told that significant progress had been made in terms of the scaling and prioritisation of projects since the initial City Deal funding announcement in May.
In relation to strategic projects included in the City Deal, the core focus of the UK Government £50M City Deal funding remains the delivery of the centres of innovation and excellence in data analytics (CARL) and robotics and automation (CIDRA) together with the key smart/digital City and Region initiatives.
At the meeting, representatives from Ulster University said that Outline Business Cases in respect of these priority projects are currently being further developed in line with Government funding guidelines.
The word “transformational” was used numerous times by the panel of experts from Ulster University.
It was explained to councillors how the Cognitive Analytics Research Lab or CARL is a new cutting-edge Applied Research Centre from Ulster University will bring together businesses, government and Artificial Intelligence expertise with academia.
It will consolidate the expertise that already exists at the University and complement it with new resources to create a centre that is world leading in research and dedicated specifically to cognitive analytics.
The CARL innovation centre would provide the city with global opportunities to become world class in areas such as software engineering, advanced networks and sensors, data analytics and cyber security and would offer huge potential to the city and wider region’s economic development.
Referring to the Centre for Industrial Digitalisation, Robotics and Automation (CIDRA) innovation project, councillors were told how the proposed innovation centre will support industry and commerce in Northern Ireland based at the Magee campus in the exploitation of industrial digital technologies, robotics and automation.
Members were also informed that the overall aim of the CIDRA project is to future proof NI industry and provide pathways towards the development of innovative products and allow existing companies to increase their productivity.
The importance of CIDRA in providing industrial and commercial support to businesses across Northern Ireland was highlighted to members who were informed that the innovation centre will focus on research, development and demonstration of the five key technologies – artificial technologies, robotics, automation, the internet of things and industrial digital technologies – that are essential for future industrialisation.
Once developed the centre will provide state of the art demonstrator facilities in robotics, automation and become a leader in pursuing international led research in the application of artificial intelligence in industry and commerce. Members were told that a key element of this innovation project was the provision of mechanism to support the transfer of skills and expertise to company staff and university students.
Personalised Medicine
In relation to the prioritisation of the Future Fund of £55m and the further anticipated match funding from NI Government and other partners, the emphasis is on advancing with projects such as the Graduate Medical School as a key catalyst for the much-needed expansion of the Ulster University Magee Campus. The delivery of a Personalised Medicine Centre of Excellence (T-HRIVE) at Ulster University and Altnagelvin is also a priority for this fund as is the provision of an integrated, Council-wide, multi-skills employment pathways intervention support programme.
The report advised that work on these innovation projects as well as the proposed SMART and digital city projects were advancing in close collaboration with local industry and partners and relevant government departments, while the strategic outline cases for major regeneration projects for Derry City and Strabane Town Centre are at an advanced stage of progress.
The Personalised Medicine Centre of Excellence intends on harnessing the power of Genomics to predict and diagnose inherited and acquired disease, and to personalise treatments and interventions.
The Ulster University representatives said it will expand its partnership with Genomics Ireland and other commercial enterprises to sequence the genomes of 10% of NI’s population contributing to a research database that can be interrogated to develop personalised medicine solutions with worldwide application and valuable I.P. and how it will also contribute to health improvement locally through a unique ‘community buy-in’ approach.

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