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Profit boost for business on offer from local universities

Many Northern Ireland companies are losing out financially by not utilising the knowledge and expertise on offer in local third-level education institutions. That’s according to Dr Paul Beaney of Dungannon-based Cherry Drainage Pipes, whose turnover has trebled to £9million since first beginning work with Queen’s University.

Dr Beaney said: “Many local firms could increase their profits by an average of £270,000 and create another three jobs, through engaging with the third-level sector here in various projects.”

Cherry Pipes and Queen’s, have been engaged in various Knowledge Transfer Partnerships since 2006, and are the current holders of the UK’s Best Knowledge Transfer Partnership title, awarded by Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Dr Beaney was speaking ahead of a visit to County Tyrone today by Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson to meet with business leaders, politicians and school principals.

As part of his visit, Professor Gregson will visit leading company Greiner Packaging Ltd. in Dungannon, accompanied by Dr Tony McNally, Director of Queen’s Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC). Along with Queen’s PPRC, Greiner Packaging (formerly Wilsanco) was the winner of the first national award for the Best KTP Programme in Engineering in 1997. Since then the company has continued to work alongside researchers in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, donating equipment in excess of £100k to Queen’s, engaging in several collaborative projects and helping fund four PhD students. The company is also a member of the Founders’ Club at Queen’s Postgraduate and Executive Education Centre at Riddel Hall.

Speaking ahead of his visit, Professor Sir Peter Gregson, said: “Queen’s has a proud heritage of working with local industry, and has seen the value of working with our indigenous companies to make innovation happen. Local industry should know that it has a powerful ally in Queen’s. And likewise, we value the support given to us from industry, such as our partnership in the area of advanced materials with Greiner Packaging. By working together they are now at the forefront of their business sector and we have established Queen’s as a leading centre for thermoforming research.

“On my visit to County Tyrone today I am also looking forward to hearing from local politicians and school principals on how we can continue to best serve their community. Ensuring all our brightest students continue to have access to the world-class education on offer at Queen’s is a key commitment from the University, and key for Northern Ireland.”

Dr McNally added: “Many firms in Northern Ireland could grow their business, but don’t know how to access the appropriate knowledge, technology and expertise. Many others fear an additional cost burden in doing so. I want to urge local businesses, big and small, to contact us and other third-level colleges and see how they can work alongside us, as we are more than willing to share our knowledge and research capabilities with local industry.”

Firms wishing to enquire about accessing the expertise on offer within Queen’s should contact Mary Flynn in the University’s KTP & Business Networks Centre. Tel: 028 90 97 5444 or email m.flynn@qub.ac.uk

Queen’s is currently the lead University in the United Kingdom in terms of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) with 30 partnerships currently active. Those who engage in KTPs experience increased profits, new job creation, additional training for members of staff, and further investment in plant and machinery.

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer. Tel: +44 (0)28 90 97 5384 or m0781 44 22 572 email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk

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PPRC Visit ISPA in France
IPSA Visit
Back row from left; Bronagh Millar, Denise Price, Paul Hanna and Alan Clarke (all PPRC), Daniel Vallienne (ISPA Director of Studies) Alan Reid (NRC) Dr Laurent Cauret (ISPA Head of Research). Front Row from left: Denis Jouannet (ISPA Researcher), Clare Horner (ISPA International Development)
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In January 2012, PPRC travelled to France to meet with the Institut Superieur de Plasturgie d’Alencon (ISPA) to gain an understanding of the work of the Institute and, in particular, the support provided to companies in respect of training and education including full and part time study through industrially sponsored apprenticeships.   During the visit the group were shown some exemplar projects and explored opportunities for collaborative research and development.

The trip was supported by the DEL funded ConnectEd project, an initiative by Queen’s University, the University of Ulster and the six Further Education Colleges, to help businesses improve their performance by providing access to a broad portfolio of knowledge and technology support.

PPRC was joined on the trip, which included factory visits to some of ISPA’s industrial partners, by a colleague from Northern Regional College (NRC).

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PPRC Welcomes, Werner Pamminger from the Kunststoff-Cluster (KC) in Austria

Dr Tony McNally, Director of Polymers Research at QUB, recently welcomed Werner Pamminger from the Kunststoff-Cluster (KC) in Austria to the PPRC to tour the facilities and meet staff.

KC is a cross-industry network of plastic companies in the states of Upper Austria, Lower Austria and Salzburg.

The Cluster promotes, initiates and coordinates the cooperation of businesses, research institutes and technology transfer organisations to enhance the innovation capacity and international competitiveness of the partners.

Werner was joined on his visit to PPRC by Pat Doyle and Keith Johnston of Invest NI and Keith Smyton of the Northern Ireland Polymers Association.

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Wavin Training Seminar

Participants at the Two Day Course.

The Polymer Processing Research Centre recently conducted an Advanced Technical Rotomoulding Training Seminar for Wavin Technology & Innovation (www.wavin.com) with delegates attending from their rotomoulding sites in Germany, Finland, The Netherlands and Denmark. The two –day packed seminar combined classroom lectures with practical hands-on demonstrations on topics including: mould pressurisation, in-mould cooling, product & material quality issues and multi-layer foaming technologies.

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Rotoflex Dissemination Days

Delegates attending the Dissemination Days

Representatives from global rotomoulding companies met in the Polymer Processing Research Centre over two days in November 2011 to hear about the latest developments of the European Commission-backed Rotoflex Project (www.rotoflex-eu.org).  Production Managers, Technicians, and Engineers from the US, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and several EU nations were updated on the work of the Project, which among other things aims to develop an automatic feed system which can be retrofitted to standard rotomoulding machines, helping to cut cycle times and energy costs.

Increasingly strict regulations, in particular in the US, are pushing rotomoulders to consider multilayer moulding technologies to reduce vapour emissions from small fuel tanks.  Rotoflex’s in-oven multi-shot system was developed to specifically address production issues related to this technology.

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Lecturer wins Educator of the Year Award
Gerry McNally has won the Educator of the Year Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers(SPE)

A senior lecturer in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering has become the first European academic to win an Educator of the Year Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE).

Gerry McNally won the award for his significant contributions in the field of polymer education through teaching, mentoring and outreach.

The Society of Plastics Engineers, with around 20,000 members in 70 countries, is recognised as the premier organisation in polymer engineering throughout the world.

The SPE Education Award has been awarded annually since 1976 to Professors in the leading Polymer Engineering and Science Schools in American Universities and is by nomination only.

Gerry joined Queen’s as lecturer in Engineering Materials in the School of Chemical Engineering in 1990 and is a founder member of the Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC) which was established in 1996 and also the Medical Polymers Research Institute established in 2004.

He has 15 years industrial experience at senior management level in polymer extrusion and has worked for extended periods in the USA and China. His expertise is in various areas of processing of polymers and their additives. He has an international reputation in the area of extrusion and co-extrusion, particularly blown films and tubes.

He has been the lead academic in over 40 polymer related industry/academia applied research programmes, several of which have been awarded local and national UK prizes for contribution to industry. He was recently awarded Best UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). His other awards have been Best UK KTP Industry Impact Award in 2009, Best UK KTP for Engineering Excellence in 2003 and Best UK KTP in 1998.

Gerry will be presented with his award at the SPE Annual Technical Conference in Florida in April 2012.

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Cherry Pipes & QUB are the UK’s Best KTP Partnership 2011

Following a day of exhibition, demonstration, presentation and networking a KTP Partnership between Dungannon-based company, Cherry Pipes Ltd and Queen’s University Belfast has taken the top award of UK Best KTP Partnership 2011.  Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and President of the Board of Trade made the announcement at the Innovate 2011 Conference on Tuesday 11th October 2011 in London.  The project was judged on impact (on the individual company and the business sector as a whole), the level of innovation and the degree of academic challenge and benefit demonstrated.   

As a result of their Partnership with the Polymer Processing Research Centre at Queen’s, the Cherry Polymer Group has become one of the top ten plastics recyclers in the UK.  Their collaboration enabled the company to develop a new approach to pipe extrusion and improvements in the quality of their product resulted in BBA and BSI certification.  Waste from the manufacturing process was reduced from 10% to 5% and an in-house design facility was established.  The new R&D focus has led to Cherry Polymers becoming the lead partner in an FP7 European Programme. 

The project with Cherry Pipes was carried out by KTP Associates Paul Beaney and Justyna Grabowska over the period September 2006 until January 2010 under the supervision of Gerry McNally and Alan Clarke at Queen’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The project was part-funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the Technology Strategy Board. 

The Innovate 2011 Conference is hosted by the Technology Strategy Board and is the leading innovation networking, conference and exhibition event. It is the UK’s biggest networking event for product developers, engineers and strategists.

Videos of the Prize Winners:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_profilepage&v=iV_3HBC7l70

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_profilepage&v=CFjvakHHMfU

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Contact Information

Polymer Processing Research Centre
Queen's University Belfast
Ashby Building
Stranmillis Road
Belfast BT9 5AH

Tel: 028 90974700
Fax: 028 90660631

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