Queen's £140m hope for NI Silicon Valley

Published Friday, 19 October 2012
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Queen's is hoping a £140m fundraising project could turn the university into Northern Ireland's "Silicon Valley", as former President of Ireland Mary McAleese opens a new campus.

Queen's £140m hope for NI Silicon Valley
The Riddel Campus at Queen's University, Belfast officially opens on Friday. (© Queen's University Belfast)

The Riddel Hall site, which was endowed to the university by Eliza and Isabella Riddel almost 100 years ago, now houses Queen's University Management School.

But the university hopes that alongside the new campus, an investment into areas in which Queen's already exceeds would allow further work to take place.

Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson revealed the money raised through the campaign would allow the university to continue improving cancer survival rates in Northern Ireland, and seek to overcome over major health problems including multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

"Patients in Northern Ireland are now accessing some of the best cancer care that is available anywhere in the world," he explained.

The campaign hopes to raise the £140 m inside five years, and the university has already received £17.5 m from donors and trusts to go towards solving cyber security challenges in NI's own Silicon Valley and work to find sustainable solutions to reducing chemical waste.

The university also intends to provide additional scholarships and provide them with "the ultimate student experience".

"It will allow us to provide additional internships affording students real-life work experiences; grow our sporting academies that allow them to develop their leadership skills; and to increase the number of scholarships providing access to opportunities that some students may never get," added Sir Gregson.

Riddel Hall was built by John Riddel, a Belfast hardware merchant, to allow his daughters to attend university as they believed women should have the same right to education as men.

The building opened in 1915 as a residence for female students and more than 1,000 women lived in the listed building until it closed in 1975.

"It was the generosity of the Riddel sisters that enabled Riddel to be built 100 years ago. And it's that same spirit of philanthropy that has enabled Queen's to redevelop Riddel into a new Northern Ireland portal for business," added Peter Gregson.

Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry, who also attended the opening, said the works will enhance Queen's reputation as a world renowned teaching centre.

"The redevelopment of Riddel Hall acknowledges Queen's University's commitment to ensure that it stays at the forefront of business and management education in the United Kingdom, and enhances its worldwide reputation as a high-class centre for teaching and learning," explained the Alliance Party minister.

"The new facility will provide a Leadership Institute and Management School which aligns with my Department's focus on developing management and leadership skills within our economy."

© UTV News
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