Published on 13/11/2023
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Aston University announces strategic partnership with Queen’s University Belfast to boost innovation ecosystems in Birmingham and Belfast
  • The two universities have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  • They will develop joint work to support their roles as catalysts in their respective innovation districts
  • The MoU was signed on 13 November at the Global Innovation Summit in London.

Aston University is partnering with Queen’s University Belfast in a bid to solidify and deepen both universities’ roles as catalysts within their respective innovation areas. 

The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by Professor Aleks Subic and Professor Ian Greer at the Global Innovation Summit on 13 November will allow the two universities to collaborate with shared ambition on ideas, projects, funding and investment propositions, fostering cross-regional collaboration based on their complementary strengths.

Aston University already generates over £1.4 billion to the national economy and this partnership will support its 2030 strategic aim to increase this contribution to over £2 billion annually, particularly in relation to the ongoing development of the Birmingham Innovation Quarter (B-IQ).

The universities will develop joint work which will support their roles as catalysts within their respective innovation districts. The partnership will create greater visibility of the innovation ecosystems they are developing and their respective roles in inclusive growth and socio-economic transformation of their cities and communities.

The common areas of interest for the partnership and the innovation ecosystems within which Aston University and Queen’s are embedded include: research translation into real world problems and contexts for impact, the development of innovation capability clearly linked to business needs, growing entrepreneurship and new businesses, initiatives for skills and employability and engaging with local communities. 

Professor Aleks Subic, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Aston University, said:

“Aston University is establishing, with partners, a world-class innovation district – the new Birmingham Innovation Quarter (B-IQ), to evolve as an innovation ecosystem focused on science, technology and enterprise. 

“I am delighted to be partnering with an exceptional university, Queen’s University Belfast, to multiply the impact of our excellent work in both cities and innovation districts and drive socio-economic transformation and inclusive growth.”

The fields of interest for the MoU includes Net Zero and clean forms of energy such as biofuels, as well as life and health sciences in terms of disease prevention, early diagnosis and impact mitigation - including through the use of AI and digital tech which will drive the future of many industries such as advanced manufacturing and professional services.

President and Vice-Chancellor at Queen’s, Professor Sir Ian Greer, said:

“This partnership brings together two universities central to innovation in the cities of Belfast and Birmingham and their surrounding regions, that share a strong sense of civic duty and both work to maximise the positive socioeconomic impact that they can contribute by fostering inclusive innovation.

“At Queen’s, we are clear that collective ambition and deep collaboration are vital if we are to fully harvest the economic potential of the Good Friday Agreement after 25 years of relative peace, while recognising collaboration needs to extend to partners outside of Northern Ireland.

“Our partnership with Aston University not only will contribute to building the investment brand and value proposition of Northern Ireland but will help both university’s innovation partners collaborate with one another to solve complex problems in society while generating economic value in both cities.”

photo caption (l-r) Deborah L. Wince-Smith President, Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils; Professor Aleks Subic, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Aston University; Professor Sir Ian Greer Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Queen’s University Belfast; Charles O. Holliday, Jr. Chairman Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils 

Notes to editors

About Aston University
For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.
Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.
Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.
Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.
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