UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering is calling on Northern Irish companies to apply for the prestigious MacRobert award amid a shortage of NI applicants, according to one awards judge.

The award has seen thriving talent from the north in former years but is experiencing a shortfall in the number of innovative businesses applying, said engineering expert and awards judge Sir John McCanny.

“There’s an awful lot of good things going over there right now,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of success stories from Northern Ireland, and it’s about uncovering them.”

The MacRobert Award, sponsored by the Academy, is UK’s longest-running engineering prize and accepts a myriad applications each year from engineers of various calibre.

The applicants must be involved in the development of a project, which will be submitted for judgement by a panel of engineering experts. The judgement is based on three main criteria: innovation, success, and benefit to society.

The competition offers a gold medal to team members as well as a £50,000 cash prize. Applications for the award are being accepted until the deadline of 31 January.

Former applicants from Northern Ireland who gained coverage in the competition are 2001 finalists Bombardier Aerospace for their aircraft engine reverse thruster, and 2003 winners Randox Laboratories for an innovative blood-testing system which runs 4,500 tests per hour.

“Just over 15 years ago the area around where the Titanic was built had become derelict with little business activity around it,” said McCanny.

“Today it’s home to nearly 200 innovative companies pushing the boundaries of computing, electronics, cyber security and fintech – it has become our very own silicon roundabout.”

Prepared and edited by Arthur Velker.

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