Vince Cable officially opened a flagship research facility in East Belfast - the Northern Ireland Advanced Composites Centre (NIACE).
NIACE has received £2.7m in funding from BIS. It will bring together leading academics and companies to develop new technologies for the design and manufacture of high-quality composite products.
Mr Cable also visited Andor Technology, aircraft manufacturer Bombardier and shipbuilder Harland and Wolff.
Ahead of the visit he said:
“Some people say the UK doesn’t make anything any more. Yet the companies I’m visiting in Belfast show this couldn’t be further from the truth. We are one of the world’s biggest manufacturers and a leading exporter of technology intensive products and services.
“The opening of NIACE is welcome as it demonstrates our ideas and innovations are being turned into new products and jobs.
“This centre will work with universities and businesses based in Northern Ireland and across the UK, to develop and commercialise new technologies.”
Advanced Manufacturing in Northern Ireland
First stop for the Business Secretary was Andor Technology, where he toured the production floor to see engineers working on high-spec cameras used for innovative medical and research purposes.
He then visited Bombardier’s new CSeries wing factory, where the UK Government and Northern Ireland Executive is investing a total of £135m. He then went on to meet apprentices and school children from the company’s Educational Outreach, and see the wing test facility in operation.
His final visit was at shipping firm Harland and Wolff where he toured the site.
Hugo Swire, Minister for Northern Ireland, who accompanied the Business Secretary, said;
“This is a good day for Northern Ireland, we now have a centre of excellence to support our advanced manufacturing industry. NIACE will turn innovation into new technology which will give us the competitive edge we need in a global market.
“The companies we have visited today demonstrate that In Northern Ireland we have the capability to offer premium specialist services that the world wants.”