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Unlocking Potential - Founder members pledge support to Riddel Hall

A select group of companies from across Northern Ireland has donated more than £1m to Queen’s University’s Postgraduate and Executive Education Centre at Riddel Hall, Stranmillis.

Riddel Hall brings first-rate facilities and leading academics under one roof - making it a great place to do business. And with the economy a top priority for the Northern Ireland Assembly, this transformational project fills a gap in the market for quality business and leadership education.

Founders’ Club will work in partnership with world-class business educators at Queen’s University Management School to develop links with the local business community.

Chair of the Riddel Hall Founders’ Club, Ed Vernon, entrepreneur and Chief Executive of local private equity firm Synetecs, is delighted that Founder members are backing the project.

He said: "The Queen’s Postgraduate and Executive Education Centre has a key role to play in the development of a sustainable and competitive local economy. There is no doubt that the Centre can enhance the competitiveness of local export businesses as well as make Northern Ireland a more attractive proposition to international companies keen to set up where there is access to a pool of talented, well-trained individuals.

“Founder members are demonstrating highly visible leadership and support for a project that is important to future economic prosperity. Through the exchange of expertise, advocacy and thinking, they will contribute to Northern Ireland’s success and become a part of Queen’s influential network at home and abroad.”

Roy Adair, Chief Executive of Belfast Harbour Commissioners, said he was looking forward to the international links that could be provided by the new facility.

"As a port and harbour, international business is a huge part of our work and is a vital ingredient in our economy," he said.

"When you look at what foreign direct investors are looking for, this place and the links it can provide between businesses and students both here and across the world, is all a real game-changer in terms of what we have to offer the international community."

Chief Executive and founder of call-centre giant Gem, Philip Cassidy said he believed the new facility can help put Northern Ireland back on the business map.

"The leadership development area is one that has been lacking in Northern Ireland," he said."It is something that really had to be taken out of Northern Ireland before and now the new business school can help bring it back.

"The fact that the Institute of Directors has also established a base at Riddel Hall is really attractive - as well as being a place of education, people are going to be coming here to do real business - the line between education and real world business is being crossed."

Richard Rodgers, Managing Director of Carillion Energy and a member of the Institute of Directors, is also supportive of the IoD move.

"I've been really supportive of the relocation of the IoD to Riddel Hall," he said.

"We need to get more real business into executive and postgraduate education provision.

"This will be a great place to meet, to discuss ideas, to look for potential recruits.

"If you look at the Northern Ireland economy, the public sector has served us really well over 40 years but now we need to stimulate the economy and the private sector and third-level social economy sector and this is a hub where it can all happen - creative space is so important."

Mark Sweeney, global operations director with Caterpillar Electric Power Division, said that no matter how big the company, investing at grass-roots level is vital for the growth of any business and the new facility is a prime example of how to do it best."What is on offer here can help us become much more powerful in terms of leadership and status globally. Supporting Queen's in this way means we are investing in education and we are also able to leverage the expertise on offer here.”