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Launch of the Ulster-Scots Innovators Gallery

23 May 2014

On Saturday 24 May (11.00), the Ulster-Scots Agency in partnership with the Northern Ireland Science Park will officially launch the Ulster-Scots Innovators Gallery. This event is being organised as part of the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival, which runs from 11.00 to 16.00 on Saturday 24, Sunday 25 and Monday 26 May.

The Ulster-Scots are legendary for their toughness, their honour and their place in political innovation.  Names like Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie can inspire young minds with action and daring-do, while the fictional creations of such as Mark Twain, CS Lewis inform and thrill young people the world over with world knowledge and moral wisdom.


Our Ulster-Scots innovations rank even higher in the history of mankind but unfortunately, they have got a little lost in the historical turmoil of the 20th century.


The Physics of Lord Kelvin is at the heart of every device and system of the 21st Century. His understanding of the fundamentals of temperature is crucial to every engine and energy conversion device we have come to depend upon.


Harry Ferguson would still recognize the shape and purpose of the agricultural tractor that he invented nearly a hundred years ago that ignited the global revolution in mechanized farming, that today allows us to contemplate feeding a world population of 9 Billion.


The pneumatic tyre, invented in Belfast by the Ayrshire vet, James Dunlop, is now ubiquitous worldwide at the heart of transport, having made rubber a global commodity of significance.


A decade ago few (including James Cameron) knew that RMS Titanic, itself a global brand, was made in Belfast. Now, at least that has changed. Still all too few know that Titanic was only one in a line of world beating ships from the 1860s onward. Even after the ship’s disaster and the trauma of WWI, H&W picked themselves up and went to set the design standards for the ocean liner of the 20th century. Ocean going diesel power and ideal positioning for efficiency (SS Southern Cross), aluminium superstructures to increase capacity but maintain sea keeping (SS Canberra) and the last dreadnought (HMS Belfast) were all products of the yard and all have left their mark here in the Thompson Triangle, the site of the 21st Northern Ireland Science Park.


The Science Park was established to facilitate the commercialisation of Northern Ireland’s research base. In endorsement of this, the key stakeholders from the outset have been Queen’s University Belfast (“Queen’s University”), University of Ulster (“UU”) and the policy stakeholders (Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment (“DETI”)), with private sector representation. The support of the two universities has been pivotal to the success of Science Park and their regular interaction from the vice chancellor down has been instrumental in setting the strategic direction of NISP. 


Today the technology eco-system of the Northern Ireland Science Park and the heritage of Titanic's Dock & Pump-House sit side by side very comfortably.  Titanic's Dock & Pump-House was specifically built to facilitate the construction of the Olympic class liner in the early 1900s.  The NASA astronaut team that opened Titanic's Dock & Pump-House as a visitor attraction in 2008 aptly described it as the Cape Canaveral of 1911 as Olympic and Titanic were the largest man made moving object on the globe at that time and built by Belfast men here on this site.   100 years ago over Belfast let the world in ship building and rope manufacturing and today Belfast leads in software development.


Today on this site there are 120 companies, employing over 2000 people in high tech businesses. One of them CITI has written the management software for their global banking and as a direct result, over 20% of the world’s Forex passes through the fibres under your feet and makes employment for thousands of other financial workers in NI.  This compares with the 25% of ships on the world’s sea in the early 1900’s that were built in Belfast


A satellite Science Park will shortly open in Londonderry as a cross border partnership with Letterkenny Institute of Technology; this is beginning to bring similar benefits to the NW of Ireland in the old province of Ulster.


Where better to experience Ulster’s Innovators that here on site the world’s only authentic Titanic landmark.  Their inventions have stood the test of time in the way the Dock & Pump-House have.  Hopefully seeing these Innovators will inspire our young people to develop technology that will once again change how we live.

Titanic’s Dock & Pump-House
NI Science Park
Queen’s Road
Queen’s Island
Northern Ireland