Launch of Irish Government funded project to address ‘Societal Imbalances’ in the North West

A €4 million cross-border research partnership has been launched to study and address structural and societal imbalances in North West Ireland.

The four-year Atlantic Futures Project, launched today (Friday) at the Guildhall in Derry, is a collaboration between Ulster University, the University of Galway, the Atlantic Technological University and the University of Limerick.

The project focuses on sustainable regional development in the North West Atlantic Innovation Corridor region, stretching from the western counties of Northern Ireland to the Shannon Estuary. The aim is to face and embrace the digital, green and energy transition.

The flagship project, announced in March, will see the creation of a research team based in three centers in Derry, Galway and Limerick, working to understand and address issues unique to this stretch of the Atlantic Corridor. These include slow economic growth, low levels of female entrepreneurship, higher than ever rates of mental health problems among young people, barriers to digitization in rural areas, and problems with international freight connectivity with no state-owned ports or airports in the region.

The large-scale social science research will attempt to examine these questions through three themes – innovation in the regional context, innovation in the regional context, and technological and infrastructural opportunities and challenges – with six working projects. Each project works with partners from civil society, business, and government, with many key partners involved in multiple projects.

Industry stakeholders and representatives from partner agencies such as InterTrade Ireland, Catalyst, the NI Mental Health Champion, Airporter, FTA Ireland and Causeway Chamber will join the Mayor of Derry, Sandra Duffy, to discuss these issues and explore solutions to challenges and opportunities to maximize benefit to communities along the corridor.

Professor Liam Maguire, PVC Research, Ulster University, commented: “Atlantic Futures brings together the significant research expertise of the four institutions to advance the challenges in this unique region.

“Our work together is closely aligned with the national goals set by both governments in the New Decade New Approach in Northern Ireland and the National Development Plan in the Republic of Ireland.

“Namely, a regionally balanced economy common to both, high-quality International Transport Connectivity (NDP) and Research into Digital Connectivity and Infrastructure (NDNA).

“From our progressive Derry~Londonderry campus, we are uniquely positioned to contribute to this regional partnership through research that can advance practical solutions for the benefit of individuals, organizations and communities.

“We look forward to working with our colleagues in Galway, Limerick and ATU.”


Atlantic Futures Launch Event Panel on institutional and cultural factors facing the region: Dr. Caroline Murphy (Chair), Mary McKenna (Awaken Hub), Jennifer McKeever (Founding Director, Airporter), Professor Siobhan O’Neill (UU and NI Mental Health Champion) and Ian Power (CEO-Spunout).

Professor Jim Livesey, Vice-President for Research and Innovation, University of Galway said: “Our goal is big and clear: we want Atlantic Futures to be internationally recognized for understanding what the economic, social and cultural aspects of life in of the region on the edge of Europe.

“This project is a big responsibility and we want to see it make a tangible difference with research in action such as mentoring for women entrepreneurs and management masterclasses together with focus groups and information from the people who live and work in the region.

“This brand new cross-border data and the insights it uncovers will be shared with others doing similar work in Europe and beyond to inform similar programs for sustainable regional development.”

Professor Norelee Kennedy, vice president for research at the University of Limerick, said he would like her research to make an impact in this area.

“We are working together to achieve four outcomes. They are aligning the research capacity of the leading research institutions along the west coast of the island of Ireland to the issues of transition and transformation in our common region.

“Development of a series of policy-informing research results, prepared jointly with relevant stakeholders, addressing specific prominent issues affecting the Tri-City Region; Gaining new and robust insights into development paths for regional transformation of multiple cities; and Understanding the Intercultural Role Understanding and misunderstanding plays a role in cross-border collaboration and coordination.”

dr Rick Officer, Vice President for Research and Innovation at ATU’s Galway City campus, is enthusiastic about the programme.

“The Atlantic Futures program will encourage sustainable innovation along the island’s Atlantic coast, from western counties of Northern Ireland and Donegal down to the Shannon Estuary,” he said.

“Atlantic Futures will focus on the challenges in these areas, such as B. retention of local talent, over-reliance on foreign direct investment and a lack of domestic growth of small and medium-sized enterprises.

“This Atlantic Corridor has powerful economic sectors such as MedTech, FinTech and Advanced Manufacturing, but it also faces issues such as housing and the ongoing loss of talent to other regions.

“Previous models of economic and social transition have focused on metropolitan areas. Atlantic Futures differs in its focus. Our ambitious program will take a multi-pronged approach to identify barriers to sustainable innovation in the region and opportunities to support its development.

“The program focuses on how a complex, distributed, multi-city region such as the cross-border west and north-west of Ireland can successfully foster sustainable innovation.”

The North-South Research Program is a cooperative program funded by the government’s Shared Island Fund.

It is administered by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. Launch of Irish Government funded project to address ‘Societal Imbalances’ in the North West

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