Ireland’s only dedicated Blue Economy Cluster explored the potential of the western seaboard at a meeting in Killybegs last week between Industry, Enterprise Ireland and Atlantic Technological University (ATU).
Members of the Cluster shared views on the opportunities for collaboration through unlocking the true potential of Ireland’s blue economy with an emphasis on both sustainable proteins and renewable energies.
Dr Orla Flynn, ATU President, supported by Dr Rick Officer, VP for Research & Innovation at ATU, welcomed Leo Clancy, CEO, Enterprise Ireland, to Killybegs.
Karl Bonner, Killybegs Marine Cluster Manager, explained the four strategic pillars progressed by the Killybegs Marine Cluster over the last 2 years.
They include Internationalisation, Scale & Competitiveness, Fostering Skills & Talent, Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) and Developing the wider marine ecosystem.
Dr Flynn and Dr Officer both expressed a commitment from ATU to support the growth within the blue economy along the West and North West coast of Ireland.
The Killybegs Marine Cluster is an industry-driven marine cluster that aims to build capacity with businesses working within the blue economy.
The Killybegs Marine Cluster is one of twelve clusters on the island of Ireland that are part of Enterprise Ireland’s National Clustering Programme.
The KMC has been in operation for two years and is currently funded under the Regional Technology Clustering Fund, (RTCF).
Industry members explained how Killybegs is ideally positioned to help realise the potential of the marine environment based on several factors: Killybegs Port has 12 metres water depth, heavy lift port infrastructure, and some 350+ highly skilled marine engineers available on the ground.
The marine industry in Killybegs has also a proven track record within the oil & gas industry – having previously serviced the largest offshore marine construction project in the history of the State, the Corrib Project.
It also has ambitions to help turn the Blue Economy green by embracing emerging renewable energy industries.
Discussions are currently ongoing between industry and the wider stakeholders to adopt a sustainability charter for the port.
Due to the unique geography of Killybegs Port, positioned as it is near the continental shelf, Killybegs has immediate access to the highest offshore wind speeds in Europe.
Members of the Killybegs Marine Cluster; Sinbad Marine Services and the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, along with Swedish Developer Hexicon, are jointly progressing the potential development of a 2GW Floating Offshore Wind farm. This has the potential to generate double the electricity of Ireland’s largest electricity generating station.
To find out more about the Killybegs Marine Cluster, please visit www.kmc.blue
Pictured above: Meabh Conaghan, Regional Director West and North West Regions at Enterprise Ireland; Leo Clancy, CEO Enterprise Ireland; Dr Orla Flynn, President ATU, Dr Rick Officer, Vice President for Research and Innovation ATU; Kevin McShane, Enterprise Ireland; Karl Bonner, ATU Cluster Manager, Killybegs Marine Cluster and John Andy Bonar, VP for Research, Equality & External Affairs at ATU.