Queen's University Belfast will bid to set up a research and enterprise park on the site of the city's former gasworks. It is intended to be a world leader in information and communications technologies.
Queen's has had exploratory discussions with the site's owners, Belfast City Council and Laganside Corporation, and with potential partners for the development.
Sir Gordon Beveridge, vice chancellor, said that Queen's had wanted for some years to form the venture to help scientific and technological experts to assist the economic regeneration of the province. It will create jobs for scientists and engineers, as well as technical and secretarial posts. The plan includes a number of incubator units to accommodate start-up companies wanting to exploit research findings.
John McCanny, a Queen's expert in microelectronics, said the institute would have a strong focus on the commercialisation of research and would be a strong magnet for inward investment.
* The enterprise park proposal was unveiled as departments in the university became the first in Northern Ireland to be rated excellent for teaching by the higher education funding council.
Ratings for history, law and social work have already been announced and a further three excellent ratings, for English, music and geology are expected.
A spokesman said: "We are delighted that we now have a 50 per cent excellence ratio compared to the average for the mainland of about 20 per cent."
The fillip came as Queen's reached the zenith of its celebrations to mark its 150th anniversary. Jugglers, clowns and stilt-walkers took part in a carnival-style family day last Saturday when hundreds of visitors guzzled slices of Queen's birthday cake.
The events were part of a community week in which Queen's sought to strengthen its links with schools and adult education providers.