€4million Atlantic Futures Project to address challenges facing North West Atlantic Innovation Corridor

A major €4million four-year cross-border research partnership has been launched to examine and address structural and societal imbalances across the North West Atlantic Innovation Corridor.

The Atlantic Futures Project is a collaboration between Ulster University, University of Galway, Atlantic Technological University and University of Limerick.

The project has seen the creation of a research team organised in three co-located hubs in Derry, Galway and Limerick, working to understand and address issues which affect this section of the Atlantic corridor, including relative slow economic growth, low levels of female entrepreneurship and higher rates of mental health difficulties among young people.

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At a launch event in the Guildhall on Friday Professor Liam Maguire, PVC Research, Ulster University commented: “Atlantic Futures combines the significant research prowess of the four institutions to advance challenges in this distinct region.

Pictured at the launch of Atlantic Futures at the Guildhall, Derry are leaders from the 4 institutions (l-r) Dr Orla Flynn, President of Atlantic Technological University, Professor Liam Maguire, PVC Ulster University, Jim Livesey, VP Research and Innovation University of Galway and Dr Caroline Murphy, Senior Lecturer at University of Limerick

"Our collective work aligns closely with national goals set out by both governments in the New Decade New Approach in NI and the National Development Plan in the Republic of Ireland.

"Namely, of a regionally balanced economy which is common to both, a high quality international transport connectivity (NDP) and exploring digital connectivity and infrastructure (NDNA).

“From our progressive Derry~Londonderry campus, we are uniquely placed to contribute to this regional partnership, through research that can drive forward practical solutions for the benefit of individuals, organisations and communities.”

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

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)

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

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Professor Norelee Kennedy, Vice President Research at University of Limerick said: “We want our research to have an impact in the area. We are working together to achieve four outcomes.

"They are the alignment of the research capacity of the leading research institutions along the west coast of the island of Ireland around the problems of transition and transformation in our shared region; development of a body of research to inform policy, co-created with relevant stakeholders addressing specific salient issues affecting the three city region; garnering new and robust insights into the developmental pathways for multi-city regional transformation; and understanding the role inter-cultural understanding and misunderstanding plays in cross-border collaboration and co-ordination.”

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. 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.

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"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.”