A major €4 million cross-border research partnership has just been launched.
The Atlantic Futures Project aims to research and address structural and societal imbalances across the North West Atlantic Innovation Corridor.
It is a collaboration between Ulster University, University of Galway, Atlantic Technological University and University of Limerick.
Announced in March, the flagship project has seen the creation of a research team organised in three co-located hubs in Derry, Galway and Limerick.
They will be working to understand and address issues which uniquely affect this section of the Atlantic corridor. These include the relatively slow economic growth; low levels of female entrepreneurship; higher rates of mental health difficulties among young people than ever before; barriers to digitalisation in rural areas and issues with international freight connectivity with no state ports or airports in the region.
The large-scale social science research will seek to examine these issues based on three themes, with six working projects, in order to face into and embrace digital, green and energy transitions.
Each project engages with partners in civil society, business, and government, with many major partners being involved across several projects.
Dr Rick Officer, Vice President for Research and Innovation based at ATU’s
Galway City campus, is enthusiastic about the programme.
“The Atlantic Futures programme will foster sustainable innovation along the island’s Atlantic coast, from the western counties of Northern Ireland and Donegal down to the Shannon Estuary,” Dr Officer explained.
“Atlantic Futures will focus on addressing challenges experienced by these areas, such as retention of local talent, over-reliance on foreign direct investment, and a lack of indigenous small and medium-sized enterprise growth.
“This Atlantic corridor has high-performing economic sectors such as the MedTech, FinTech and Advanced Manufacturing, but it also faces problems including housing, and persistent loss of talent to other regions.
“Previous models of economic and social transition have focussed on metropolitan centres. Atlantic Futures differs in its focus.
“Our ambitious programme will take a multi-pronged approach to identifying obstacles to sustainable innovation in the region and ways to support its development.
“The programme focuses on how a complex, distributed, and multi-city region, such as the cross-border, west and north-west of Ireland, can successfully foster sustainable innovation.”
The North-South Research Programme is a collaborative scheme funded through the Government’s Shared Island Fund. It is being administered by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.