Is NI home to the UK’s best engineering innovation?

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The Royal Academy of Engineering is encouraging applications to the coveted MacRobert Award from Northern Irish businesses, as it looks to find examples of great innovation throughout the UK.

The MacRobert Award, which was first presented in 1969, is the UK’s longest running and most prestigious prize for engineering innovation. It recognises outstanding engineering innovation combined with proven commercial success and tangible social benefit. Winners receive a £50,000 cash prize, gold medal and national acclaim.

Companies from Northern Ireland have previously been recognised by the Academy for their outstanding innovation, with Belfast-based Bombardier Aerospace reaching the final in 2001 for a new aircraft engine thrust reverser.

In 2003 Randox Laboratories won the award for the EvidenceÒ rapid analysis system, which could run over 4,500 blood tests per hour, a market-leading achievement at the time.

Many past MacRobert Award winners have transformed industries and had a positive impact on our everyday lives. These have included the engineers behind innovations such as the Pegasus jet engine used in the iconic Harrier jets, catalytic converters and the roof of the Millennium Dome. The 2017 Award went to the creators of Raspberry Pi, which is now the third best-selling computer of all time and has encouraged over 85,000 children to learn to code.

Dr Dame Sue Ion DBE FREng FRS, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award judging panel, comments: “Northern Ireland is renowned for its innovation. While it is well known for its shipbuilding prowess, its innovators have transformed many different industries, from transport to healthcare to farming. We are confident that there are many examples of outstanding engineering innovation here and I would like to encourage companies to consider entering this year’s MacRobert Award.”

For centuries Northern Irish innovators have been transforming industry and our everyday lives; with the world’s first ever streetcar being designed by 22-year-old John Stephenson from Co. Armagh back in 1833, while Co. Down’s Harry Ferguson is credited with inventing the modern tractor, and cardiologist Frank Partridge invented the portable defibrillator. More recently, in 2012, Ballymena’s Wrightbus created the new London Routemaster.

Applications for the 2018 MacRobert Award are now open and close on 31 January 2018. For more information, visit