LECo Project Launch and Community Energy Awareness Event

The Western Development Commission launched their Local Energy Communities (LECo) project in IT Sligo on Friday April 6th. The launch was combined with a community energy awareness day.

LECo is funded by the NPA programme with partners in Ireland, Finland, Sweden and Norway. The goal is to combine new innovative technologies with locally available natural resources, and to raise awareness of energy efficiency and identify possibilities to use renewable energy.

The event was organised and Chaired by Dr Orla Nic Suibhne from the Western Development Commission, and the speakers included:

Paul Kenny CEO of Tipperary Energy Agency
Ruth Buggie Sustainable Energy Community (SEC) Programme Manger with SEAI
Pauline Leonard GREBE Project Coordinator Western Development Commission
Mel Gavin R&D Coordinator IT Sligo
Aisling Nic Aoidh LECo Project Officer Údarás na Gaeltachta
Martin Keating Mayo County Council’s Climate Change Regional Office

At the event, Ruth Buggie from SEAI announced details of a new grant programme specifically designed for communities within the SEC network. This new programme will go live mid April 2018 and aims to develop community skills to a level where they can manage their own capital projects, lead small to medium scale project in their own communities, build and maintain energy awareness and knowledge locally, and also provide funding for small scale demonstration projects to showcase innovative energy solutions. There is €3m available for this new funding programme for communities in 2018.

Please click here for more information

Energy Innovations for SMEs

Are you interested in Energy Innovations for SMEs?

Join us on 25th June 2018 for the upcoming conference at Limerick Institute of Technology.

Register HERE!

For more information please visit FREED Project event page.

Grebe Conference

Preparations are underway for our next Big Conference! Action Renewables is hosting a GREBE Conference on 21st June 2018 in Belfast. The marketing team here at Action Renewables are working hard to come up with a new concept of delivery that will keep the audience engaged and provide an enjoyable day of events. Here is a short preview of what is to come:

The Conference aims to showcase policy in 7 EU Renewable Energy Projects in Northern Ireland with a particular focus on the GREBE EU Project.
Guest speakers will demonstrate the most recent developments in Renewable Energy Technologies.
An outline on how the GREBE project has identified elements of good policy which could be applied to Northern Ireland.

Pauline Leonard, Western Development Commission Lead Partner, will disseminate the overall results and impact of the GREBE EU Programme across the region.
Roisin Deery, Action Renewables will present GREBE Policy findings across the regions.

Una Porteous, Fermanagh & Omagh District Council will provide an overview on the success of the SME mentoring scheme throughout all the partners regions in ROI, NI, Scotland, Finland and Iceland.
The second part of the Conference will showcase other EU Renewable Energy Projects currently running in Northern Ireland: RECENT, SEAFUEL, REDAWN, SPIRE2, GENCOMM and Renewable Engine.

Click here for more info

Western Region Audiovisual Producers Fund (WRAP Fund) Guidelines

WRAP is committed to strategic investment that encourages regional production activity across the film, television drama, animation and gaming sectors, to support local talent, create sustainable employment, build the audio-visual infrastructure and contribute to the cultural veracity of the region. The region encompasses counties Clare, Donegal, Galway (City and County), Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo (Region).

These guidelines are intended to assist Content Producers (Producers) in making a submission to the Western Regional Audiovisual Fund (WRAP) for Production Support.

Download the WRAP Fund Production Guidelines HERE

Find our more about the WRAP Fund HERE

Annual Conference of Regional Studies Association

The WDC is sponsoring this year’s Annual Conference of the Irish Branch of the Regional Studies Association. The theme of this year’s conference is ‘City Led Regional Development and Peripheral Regions’ and takes place on Friday, 7th September at IT Sligo

Submission themes

The call for papers for the conference is now open. Abstracts of no more than 250 words can be submitted here. Presentations from policymakers, academia and practitioners active in the field of regional studies, as well as post-graduate students are welcome. Presentations may deal with, amongst others, the following themes:

  • Cities as a source of economic growth
  • Development in peripheral regions
  • Urban centres and economic development
  • The National Planning Framework and governance
  • The National Planning Framework and housing
  • Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies
  • Local and regional economic forums
  • New approaches to regional development
  • International comparator cases

Other contributions dealing with the topic of regional studies are invited and may be included in focussed sessions.

Speakers

Two international speakers have already been confirmed:

Dr Andrew Copus, The James Hutton Institute, Scotland: Andrew Copus joined the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences Group of The James Hutton Institute in March 2013. For the previous eight years he was a Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio (Nordic Centre for Spatial Development, Stockholm) and the Centre for Remote and Rural Studies, University of the Highlands and Islands.

Andrew is an economic geographer by training, whose research interests relate to the changing rural economy and rural/regional policy. Much of his work has been based upon analysis of small area or regional secondary data and indicators. He has a long-standing interest in territorial rural development and regional disparities, which through recent projects is presented as “rural cohesion policy”.

Much of Andrew’s work has had a European perspective, variously funded by Framework Programmes, ESPON and as a consultant for the European Commission. He has studied the role of rural business networks, the changing nature of peripherality and most recently, patterns and trends in poverty and social exclusion.

Professor Mark Partridge, ​Ohio State University, USA: Mark Partridge is the C. William Swank Chair of Rural-Urban Policy at The Ohio State University and a Professor in the AED Economics Department. He has published over 125 peer-reviewed journal papers in journals such as the American Economic Review, Journal of Economic Geography, Journal of Urban Economics, and Review of Economics and Statistics. He co-authored the book ‘The Geography of American Poverty: Is there a Role for Place-Based Policy?’

Dr. Partridge’s current research interests include investigating regional economic growth, urban spillovers on rural economies, why regions grow at different rates, and spatial differences in income equality and poverty.  Dr. Partridge has consulted with OECD, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and various governments in the U.S. and Canada, as well as with the European Commission. He has presented to the U.S. Congress and the Canadian Parliament on regional issues.

Registration

The conference fee will be €70, including lunch, and online registration will open in the coming months. In the meantime any queries regarding registration should be sent to chris.vanegeraat@mu.ie or Justin.doran@ucc.ie

Importance of rural areas as employment locations revealed in new analysis of Western Region

  • More people living in the Western Region and at work – up by 6% in 10 years
  •  Over a quarter of all workers in the Western Region live in Galway city catchment
  •  Workers in the Western Region leave for work later than national average

A new report carried out by the Western Development Commission (WDC) examining the labour trends in the Western Region has highlighted the importance of rural areas as employment locations.

The report found that a large proportion of the labour catchment residents are in fact employed in rural areas – centres with less than 1,000 people – depending on the location of the county town and the proximity of nearby urban areas.

In general, this rate is greater than 22% with the exception being in the Sligo town labour catchment where only approximately 17% are employed in rural areas.

Ennis labour catchment has the highest level of rural employment with 26.9% employed in the Clare rural area, reflecting the low number of urban settlements within Clare.

The WDC report also shows that in the past decade, there has been little change in the geographic and population size of the largest labour catchments. The seven county town labour catchments account for an increase of only 0.5% in the total population at work and residing in the Western Region.

 “This shows the limited change that has occurred in these catchments over a long period and the need for very strong policy intervention to effect change,” noted WDC Policy Analyst, Deirdre Frost.

The report identified 42 labour catchments in the Western Region (April 2016), ranging in size from the largest – Galway city with over 70,000 resident workers, to centres with fewer than 1,000 resident workers.

 It found that there was over a quarter of a million (260,261) people living in the Western Region and at work, up by 6% on 2006, a decade earlier. Over a quarter of all workers in Western Region, from Donegal to Clare, live in the largest catchment – the Galway city labour catchment.

And all the town catchments are larger, with many more people working there than the numbers at work in the town at its centre, highlighting the larger labour supply available.

For example, Galway city labour catchment has a population at work more than double the number of resident workers identified in the Census population while Carrick-on-Shannon labour catchment has a population at work around 4.6 times the Census population of resident workers.

In terms of ranking, the Sligo town labour catchment (21,834) is now second largest, slightly larger than the Ennis labour catchment (21,409).

The age profile of the working population has been increasing and there has been a decrease in the rate of young workers (aged less than 30 years); this pattern is also evident across the State. Letterkenny (17%) and the Galway City (16.8%) catchment have by far the highest rates of young workers while Carrick-on-Shannon catchment recorded the lowest rate of workers aged less than 30 years (12.8%).

Letterkenny has the lowest rate of workers leaving for work before 7.30 am (19.1%), followed by Sligo (20.6%), Carrick-on-Shannon (23.4%), Castlebar (23.5%) and Roscommon 23.9%.

Galway city labour catchment has the highest rate (28.8%), but it is still less than the figure for the State (31.3%). The second highest rate of workers departing for work before 7.30 am is those in the Ennis labour catchment (26.3%).

Education & Employment

One of the most significant changes over the last decade is the rate of third-level educational attainment. Within the seven county town catchments, Galway City has by far the highest rate at 61.3%, up from 49% in 2006. The Roscommon town catchment recorded the lowest rate in 2016 – 49%, up from 32.9% a decade earlier.

While the presence of a higher education institution is a factor in relatively higher rates of third level educational attainment, it is by no means the only factor. For example the Galway, Sligo and Ennis labour catchments have a rate of third-level educational attainment of 54% or higher. The catchments of Castlebar (50.4%) and Letterkenny (51.6%) have lower rates, indicating that the range and quality of employment opportunities is also a key factor.

The workers living in North-east Donegal have strong linkages to Northern Ireland. This ‘Derry Rural’ labour catchment is the 13th largest in the Western Region and accounts for 5,056 resident workers an increase of approximately 10% (476), since 2006. This region will be most impacted by BREXIT, whichever form it takes, therefore policy needs to be developed and implemented to mitigate the impacts.

Within the Western Region, both the ‘Wholesale, Retail Trade’ (25.8%) and ‘Education, Human Health and Social Work Activities’ (25.4%) are the largest employers. The third most important sector is ‘Manufacturing Industries’ (15.9%).

Commenting on the findings, the Chairperson of the WDC, Dr. Deirdre Garvey said:

“This is very valuable information as it provides robust analysis of travel to work patterns across the Western Region. Comparing these data with the original WDC analysis 10 years earlier provides insights into trends. It will be of particular value to policy-makers in the context of Project Ireland 2040 and the development of the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies informing decisions on commuting patterns and enterprise location”.

 For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact Deirdre Frost, Policy Analyst, WDC on +353 86 605 3317

The WDC report identifies 42 labour catchments in the Western Region (counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare) and provides a detailed labour market profile for the largest seven towns in the seven counties:  Galway, Sligo, Ennis, Letterkenny, Castlebar,
Carrick-on-Shannon and Roscommon Town.

 

Regional Heat Study Workshops

The Western Development Commission (WDC) commissioned a regional renewable energy analysis on the use of biomass as a local contribution to the national renewable heat target and develop a range of actions to support the development of renewable energy in the region under the Action Plan for Jobs.

The aim of this study is to inform how the WDC can support and develop biomass use in the Western region. This study is now complete and RE:HEAT will present their findings in two workshops.

Tuesday 15th May, 2.00pm at the Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe, Co

For more information please click here for the Agenda

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Rural Communities-Guided Tour

This guided tour of community energy projects in Belmullet, Co Mayo is being hosted by Dr Orla Nic Suibhne from the Western Development Commission and is supported by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and IT Sligo. It is one of the community energy awareness events that the NPA funded LECo (Local Energy Communities) project is rolling out.

It will include building insulation, heating and lighting upgrades, Solar PV and battery storage, Electric Vehicles, Heat Pump systems and a viewing of the proposed wave energy test site and substation. Lunch and a bus will be provided on the day.

For more information please click here

West of Ireland-set thriller with Cosmo Jarvis and Barry Keoghan to begin shooting in Galway and Clare

‘CALM WITH HORSES’, the feature debut of Nick Rowland starring Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan and Niamh Algar which is set to shoot in the West of Ireland in May in co-production with Element Pictures.  Altitude Film Distribution will partner with Element Pictures Distribution for the film’s release in the UK and Ireland.  Film4 will finance production along with the Irish Film Board and the newly announced Western Region Audiovisual Producer’s Fund (WRAP Fund).

DMC Film, the production company founded by Michael Fassbender and Conor McCaughan, and producer Daniel Emmerson have developed the project with Film4 as Nick Rowland’s feature directorial debut following Slap his BAFTA and BIFA-nominated short film.

CALM WITH HORSES is based on a novella from the acclaimed collection of short stories Young Skins by Irish writer Colin Barrett from Mayo. The collection won The Guardian’s first book award and the Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize. Writer Joe Murtagh has adapted the screenplay and has collaborated with Rowland since they studied together at the NFTS. Rowland, Murtagh and Emmerson have all featured in Screen International’s Stars of Tomorrow showcase.

In darkest rural Ireland, ex-boxer Arm has become the feared enforcer for the drug-dealing Devers family, whilst also trying to be a good father to his autistic five-year-old son, Jack. Torn between these two families, Arm is asked to kill for the first time, and his attempt to do the right thing endangers everyone he holds dear.

Cosmo Jarvis starred in the BAFTA nominated breakout success Lady Macbeth released by Altitude as well as Alex Garland’s Annihilation.

One of the industry’s rising screen stars, Barry Keoghan recently starred in Lance Daly’s Black 47 which premiered in selection at Berlin.  Altitude is also representing the film for international sales and distribution in the UK.  Keoghan can also been seen in Bart Layton’s Sundance Grand Prize-nominated American Animals, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

Niamh Algar won the Best Supporting Actress at the Irish Film and Television Awards (2017) for her performance in Nick Kelly’s The Drummer and the Keeper, and is known for her lead role in Lorcan Finnegan’s Without Name which received its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (2016). She will also star in Shane Meadows’ upcoming TV series, The Virtues.

About The WRAP Fund

The Western Regional Audiovisual Producer’s Fund (WRAP Fund) is a new initiative of the Western Development Commission and Galway Film Centre in association with the local authorities of Clare, Donegal, Galway City, Galway County, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo along with Údarás na Gaeltachta, set up to support film, television, animation and gaming industries in the Western region of Ireland. The WRAP Fund is committed to strategic investment that encourages regional production and development activity across the audiovisual sectors, to support local talent, create sustainable employment, build the audio-visual infrastructure and contribute to the cultural veracity of the region.  Launched in late 2017, CALM WITH HORSES is the first project supported by the WRAP Fund. The production will film in two WRAP counties – Galway and Clare.

New research on Economic & Social Impact of the West of Ireland creative sector

National University of Ireland, Galway has recently published a series of reports ‘Economic & Social Impact Assessment’ of the creative sector in five different regions across Europe’s Northern Edge including the West of Ireland.  The five reports are available to download here:

Funded through the EU Northern Periphery & Arctic (NPA) Programme co-funded ‘a creative momentum project’, the research was conducted by Dr Patrick Collins, Dr Aisling Murtagh and Dr Ben Breen of NUIG’s Whitaker Institute and Discipline of Geography. The WDC is lead partner for this transnational project.

Silvia Guglielmini, WDC; Aisling Murtagh, NUIG; Pat Collins, NUIG; Pauline White, WDC; Leo Scarff; Leo Scarff Design at the launch of the assessment report. Photo Credit: Brad Anderson, Photo One Photography

As the report states, assessing the value of the creative sector (defined in the report as Advertising, Animation, Architecture, Craft, Cultural Facilities, Design, Film, Games, IT and Computer Services, Marketing, Music, Performing Arts, Photography, Publishing, Radio, Software, TV and Visual Arts) is a complex task.

Combining existing knowledge and official statistics, with survey data (152 respondents made some reply to the online survey) and in-depth interviews with nine creative sector entrepreneurs from the region, the impact assessment presents key economic estimates but also goes beyond traditional economic measures to encompass a wider socio-economic focus.

Economic Impacts

Sales

Total direct sales of the creative sector in the Western Region amounted to €486.2 million in 2016. Making use of a multiplier, the researchers derived a total value of the sector to the Western Region of €729.2 million.

Average company sales differ across sub-sectors. The sub-sector which the researchers designate as ‘creative industries’ (Media/Advertising, Architecture/Design, R&D, Professional Services, Software & App Development) reports average sales close to twice that of enterprises in the ‘craft industries’ (Traditional Craft, Print & Recorded Media Production, Electronic Manufacturing, Other Manufacturing) and ‘cultural industries’ (Performing Arts & Education, Publishing, Film & TV).

Exports

46% of survey respondents derived some portion of their sales from exports. Across the sector this accounted for 18% of direct sales or €87.4 million. Smaller and younger companies were least likely to export their produce.

Length of establishment

The sub-sector which the researchers designate as ‘creative industries’ is the youngest sub-sector with more than half of operations surveyed less than five years old and close to 10% had been in existence for less than one year.

Employment

The analysis found that the overall creative sector in the Western Region consists of a large number of small and micro enterprises with an average of 2.6 employees per firm.

Official statistics from the CSO indicate that a total of 12,871 people were employed in the sector in the Western Region in 2015. The largest sub-sector was ‘creative industries’ (57.3%, 7,380) followed by ‘cultural industries’ (30%, 3,847) and ‘craft industries’ (12.7%, 1,644). Geographically, employment was concentrated in counties Galway (22%), and Donegal (18%).

The results of the survey suggest that employment in the overall creative sector grew in recent years. Employment in ‘cultural industries’ increased by 2.3% (2012-2015) while in ‘creative industries’ there was stronger growth of 15.8%. ‘Craft industries’ however showed no significant change.

Infographic of Economic Impacts of Creative Sector in West of Ireland

Social Impacts

The report authors note that studies have found the creative sector has a range of wider benefits and spill-over impacts. Such benefits are difficult to measure precisely, but their assessment suggests the contribution is significant. A range of wider socio-economic contributions from the creative sector in the Western Region are examined in the report:

Place-based impacts

  • The creative sector is locally embedded, facilitating strong local economy value capture. But it is also internationally and globally focused, supporting economic growth. The creative sector can contribute to re-inventing perceptions of peripheral regions as attractive, creative places to live, work and visit.
  • The qualities of creative sector entrepreneurs are an asset that facilitate harnessing of local opportunities, such as from place-based resources including culture, traditions, landscape and heritage.

Human and social capital impacts

  • Inter-sectoral mobility of creative labour, as well as strong knowledge transfer to emerging talent and other entrepreneurs, strengthens the human resource capacity of the region.
  • The open and collaborative approach of creative sector entrepreneurs builds a supportive entrepreneurial environment aligned with the concept of ‘coopetition’.
  • Creative sector entrepreneurs also contribute to positive social and community impacts.

Infographic of Socio-economic impacts of creative sector

To support the consideration of the socio-economic impacts of the sector three case studies are included in the assessment:

  • Festival impacts: Willie Clancy Summer School
  • Arts impacts: Gaeltacht areas in the Western Region
  • Tourism Impacts: Creative and cultural assets

Conclusion

The analysis suggests the creative sector has significant economic and social value in the Western Region of Ireland. It highlights the important role of the creative sector in supporting more balanced, sustainable development in peripheral and rural regions. The sector’s structure, composed of small locally engaged businesses, is an important part of its value.

Placing the creative sector as part of a regional development strategy can support a move away from reliance on service and primary sectors and towards a more diversified economy focusing on new sources of economic competitiveness. Synergies between the creative sector and other indigenous industry sectors, such as agriculture, the marine and tourism, provide avenues for exploration to support future sustainable growth.

The researchers conclude by noting that this is a one off report based on limited evidence. Better evidence can help to identify benefits of particular creative sub-sectors so local agencies can focus on sectors which best address specific local development needs.  To more fully capture the value and needs of the creative sector regularly published official statistics measuring key socio-economic indicators by region and creative sector are needed.

Download the report here

Pauline White