Queen's University in Belfast has been awarded more than £8m in research funding from an EU cross-Irish border scheme.
The money will be used for renewable energy projects with a particular focus on wave and tidal power generation.
Known as the Bryden Centre for Advanced Marine and Bio-Energy Research, it will recruit 34 PhD students and six post-doctoral research associates.
Funding is from the Interreg programme which supports projects in NI.
Some border counties of the Republic of Ireland and western Scotland also benefit from the Interreg programme.
Aside from marine energy projects the centre will focus on the anaerobic digestion of agri-food waste.
'Strong commercial potential'
Match-funding for the projects has been provided by the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in the Irish Republic.
Partner organisations include the Ulster University, the Letterkenny Institute of Technology and the University of Highlands and Islands.
Gina McIntyre, the chief executive of the Special EU Programmes Body, which manages Interreg, said the project was aimed at tackling the low level of industry-relevant research and innovation in the local renewables sector.
"The Bryden Centre project will help address this issue by creating a new centre of competence made up of dedicated PhD students creating high quality research with strong commercial potential," Ms McIntyre added.
The Interreg programme has a total value of £240m, which is due to be distributed by 2020.