The Director General of the Confederation of British Industry, Sir Digby Jones, and the Director General of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation, Mr Turlough O’Sullivan, met the Presidents and Vice-Chancellors of the nine Irish universities for a historic, first ever meeting in Belfast on Thursday 1 September 2005.
The meeting took place in the Business Centre in the Hilton Hotel. It was jointly organised by Universities Ireland, the umbrella body for the nine universities on the island, and the IBEC-CBI Joint Business Council.
Sir Digby and Mr O’Sullivan discussed business-university collaboration with the university leaders, who included Professor Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Richard Barnett, Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ulster, Professor John Hegarty, Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Hugh Brady, President of University College Dublin, and Dr Iognaid Ó Muircheartaigh, President of National University of Ireland Galway. Also present were business and civil service leaders from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, including Dr David Dobbin, Chairman of CBI Northern Ireland, and Ms Brigid McManus, Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science in Dublin .
Among the topics discussed were how commercial risk management might be applied to university research; the need for a skills map for the island of Ireland; how to showcase examples of upskilling and lifelong learning in individual firms; and the need for Irish schoolchildren, North and South, to learn languages like Chinese which are important for business.