Queen's University Belfast (Northern Ireland) is creating a research institute for electronics, communications and information technology (ECIT)
ECIT will nurture existing local electronics companies, assist with commercial spin-offs of research and help the region secure inward investment, said John McCanny, professor of microelectronics at Queen's, and ECIT's first director.
More than 100 researchers from mixed backgrounds in academia and commercial companies are expected to be working at ECIT within a few years, providing a flow of graduates to companies and helping to improve the university's capabilities in leading electronic disciplines.
Some final funding decisions have yet to be made and details of how ECIT will begin operations later this year are still uncertain. But McCanny said the institute would begin with about 75 to 80 staff members.
McCanny said a budget of $58m is envisioned to cover ECIT's first five years of operation. He added that Queen's University has pledged $42m. The remaining funds will be drawn from various government agencies and commercial backers.
"Ireland has the NMRC [National Microelectronics Research Center], Scotland the ISLI [Institute of System Level Integration] and Belgium has IMEC [Interuniversities Microelectronics Center]," said McCanny. Queen's is a centre of expertise in a number of technologies that should be showcased in a semi-independent institute, he said, citing reconfigurable logic, DSP, RF and wireless, embedded applications and system-on-chip.
ECIT's goal is to occupy a new building in the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast, where it can operate alongside startup companies in incubator buildings and small design groups funded by investors.
"We're going to start with about 80 people and within five years expand to about 175. We plan to physically relocate whole research groups there," said McCanny.