Development & Alumni Relations Office 


01 January 2017

John McCanny, a professor in Electronics and Computer Engineering at Queen's and Director of the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) based in the Titanic Quarter, has received Northern Ireland's only Knighthood in the 2017 New Year's Honours, in recognition for his services to higher education and economic development.

Professor McCanny was inaugurated as Northern Ireland's first Regis Professor in December 2016. He is an international authority on special purpose silicon architectures for Digital Signal and Video Processing and Cryptography.

Commenting on the honour Professor McCanny said: “I am obviously personally delighted to receive this award. However, I must strongly thank and acknowledge the fantastic team of people we have at ECIT for their wonderful achievements which this strongly reflects on. I also have to thank the University and successive Vice- Chancellors for the support they have given, over many years, as well as the senior staff at Northern Ireland Science Park (now Catalyst Inc).

“The general public does not seem to be as aware as it might be of the all the great things that are happening these days in Titanic Quarter. If this helps to shine a light on this and the advanced technology research and entrepreneurial environment that has been created, then this is very positive.”

Congratulating Professor McCanny, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston said: “Professor John McCanny has made pushing the envelope of innovation his life’s work and his knighthood is well-deserved recognition for the outstanding contribution he has made locally, nationally and internationally.

“Professor McCanny has a world-class research record and reputation, but it has been his passion for coupling university research with commercial and economic impact where he has made an enormous contribution.

“It was his vision and outstanding leadership that led to the creation of the Northern Ireland Science Park and its ECIT research flagship as well as the creation of the Centre for Secure Information Technology (CSIT) – a major hub for research and innovation in cyber security.”

The Northern Ireland Science Park has created thousands of high-tech jobs in the last 12 years. Speaking earlier in the month to the Belfast Newsletter, the 64-year-old father-of-two from Ballymoney said: “I was completely and utterly shocked when I got the letter four weeks ago and I am still in a state of surprise!” 

He added: “When we opened our doors for the Science Park in 2004 there was an innovation centre opposite us that had just been opened but there was nothing else there. 

"And today there are about 160 high-tech companies, from multinationals to pretty small start-ups, and there’s about 2,500 people employed on the park currently.”

A 1973 Physics graduate from the University of Manchester, he has a PhD in Physics from Ulster University (1978) and was awarded a DSc (1998) in Electrical and Electronics Engineering by Queen’s.

Sir John has published 5 research books and 360 peer reviewed research papers and holds over 20 patents. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Irish Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the Institute of Physics and Engineers Ireland. He is also a Member of the Royal Irish Academy.

His many honours and awards include a CBE (2002), a UK Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal (1996), an IEEE Millennium Medal, the Royal Dublin Society/Irish Times Boyle medal (2004), the IET’s Faraday medal (2006) – its highest award) and the Royal Irish Academy’s Cunningham medal (2011), also its most prestigious honour. 

Professor Sir John McCanny has co-founded two successful high technology companies based on the work of his research teams, Amphion Semiconductor Ltd. – later acquired by Conexant, then NXP, then Entropic – and Audio Processing Technology Ltd – acquired in 2011 by Cambridge Silicon Radio.

Sir John was also instrumental in the initiative that created the £37m ECITresearch flagship of which he is currently Director and the £30m Centre for Secure Information Technology (CSIT). CSIT is based at ECIT and is funded by EPSRC, InnovateUK, InvestNI and by industry. It now employs over 90 people and is the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Cybersecurity.

A Member of Council of the Royal Academy of Engineering (2009-2012) and a Member of Council of the Royal Irish Academy (2013-2014), Sir John currently chairs the Royal Society Policy Steering Group on “Cyber Security Research”.

He was a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering Dowling review, whose report on business-university collaboration was published in 2015 and a Member of the board of Ireland’s Tyndall National Institute (2004 -2011).

For further information please contact Queen’s Communications Office, telephone +44 (0)28 9097 5310.


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