OBE reflects NI Science Park chief’s standing among peers

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FORMER Larne Grammar School pupil, Dr Norman Apsley, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Science Park, has been awarded an OBE in recognition of his contribution to science and economic development.

Dr Apsley joined the Northern Ireland Science Park Foundation in 2000 as its first chief executive, on return from England where he was involved for around 30 years in applied research and the commercialisation of research. Since then he has steered the Northern Ireland Science Park from an initial concept to physical embodiment, headquartered on 25 acres of Queen’s Island where today it houses technology companies employing approximately 2,000 people.

Born in Larne, educated at the Grammar and then the University of Ulster, Dr Apsley achieved a First Class Honours Degree in Physics. He went to Cambridge University to study amorphous semiconductors and subsequently became a Fellow of Jesus College and an SERC Research Fellow. He later joined RSRE (now Qinetiq), one of Europe’s foremost applied physics laboratories. For 10 years, he researched a wide variety of microwave and optical devices, publishing some 70 scientific papers and patents before joining the management team, ending as director.

Dr Apsley’s unpaid professional appointments include deputy chairman of Matrix, the Northern Ireland Science Industry strategy group; and vice-president (Business and Innovation) of the Institute of Physics. He is honorary president of the Association for Science Education in NI and chairs the steering board of the NI Composite Centre. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Ulster and a Fellow of both the Royal and Irish Academies of Engineering.

Frank Hewitt, chairman of the Northern Ireland Science Park, spoke of the “delight” of the board and staff of the Northern Ireland Science Park to hear that Dr Apsley had been included in the honours list.

“The award is a fitting recognition of the unique contribution which Dr Apsley has made to scientific and economic development in Northern Ireland and, in particular, to the development of the Northern Ireland Science Park, which is now one of the most successful and fastest-growing science parks in the U K. The award also reflects the standing which Dr Apsley enjoys among his peers in the scientific community in the United Kingdom.”

Dr Apsley said he was surprised and delighted by the award, especially the citation.

“Bringing Science and Business together is my passion: so I hope it is another sign that we’ll reverse the adage that the UK is the world’s scientist only to watch others take all the commercial advantage. My delight is shared by my supporter in chief, Jacqui my wife, and my family, only diminished by the fact that my mother didn’t quite live long enough to see it.”