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All Island Innovation Programme: Open Innovation Workshop

'The Benefits and Challenges of Open Innovation'

The second innovation masterclass in the interTradeIreland All Island Innovation Programme, was aimed particularly as leaders of small and medium sized businesses, examining how the benefits of sharing information and innovations can help them grow and establish themselves in the NI economy.

The morning opened with a presentation and discussion from Mr Colm Higgins, Director of the Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC) at Queen's University Belfast. Colm has assisted many small and large businesses throughout the UK and Ireland overcome innovation challenges they have faced. He detailed some of the cases he has worked on including working with start-up businesses, scaled-up businesses and larger SMEs that have come to the NITC with challenges. He will also have detailed outcomes of how these companies have benefitted from a policy of open innovation.

For the second part of the morning we were joined by Karen McCallion from InterTradeIreland who introduced the various programmes InterTradeIreland offers companies to aid in innovation and growth. These programmes included the Fusion Programme, the Go-2-Tender Programme and the Acumen Programme. Karen also introduced attendees to the All Island Open Innovation Platform, which has been developed to nurture inter-organisational collaborative innovation and enhancement of the innovative ecosystem (both regionally and at an all-island level). This was followed by Innovation Engineer, Helen Potter from Matrix Business Growth Consultants who gave an interactive session on the benefits of the platform and open innovation for SMEs.

For the final part of the morning, Steven Brooker from Cubis Systems presented how Cubis have benefitted from open innovation both nationally and internationally both through their own programmes and working with funders such as InterTradeIreland.


Colm Higgins, is the Director of the Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC) at Queen's University Belfast. The NITCH is a technology and innovation centre, bridging the gap between academic research and commercial production, to meet industry’s needs. As one of Queens University’s primary links with industry Colm manages a self financing unit affiliated to the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, recognised as one of the foremost contributors to NI industry from the Universities. The NITC activities include working with leading OEM’s as well as with local SME’s, on projects focussing on Design, Engineering and Manufacturing.

Helen Potter is a Chartered Marketer and Innovation Engineer with over 25 years’ experience in new product development in a career spanning senior technical and marketing roles in both the packaging and drinks industries. When responsible for Innovation within Global Marketing at Edrington, Helen devised, developed and launched a new portfolio for The Famous Grouse adding an incremental profit of over £12M.  During this time, she enjoyed the mentorship of Doug Hall, founder of Eureka! Ranch and The Innovation Engineering Institute, gaining the highest certification possible in I.E. In 2015 Doug Hall awarded her a license to practice as a fully qualified coach.

Steven Brooker is the Product Development Manager for Cubis Systems. Cubis is Europe's leading manufacturer of access chamber and ducting systems, used in the construction of infrastructure networks.

The All-Island Innovation Programme is delivered in partnership with InterTradeIreland, Queen’s University Belfast, NUI Galway, DCU Ryan Innovation Academy and University College Cork.