A year in review: WDC Policy Analysis 2018

Happy New Year from the WDC Policy Analysis team!  As we all try to settle back into work and look forward to 2019 (well as much as anyone can with Brexit looming large on the horizon) it’s a good chance to look back at the year that was 2018.

Here’s a few of our highlights:

Travel to Work analysis

In May, we published detailed analysis of the travel to work patterns of workers living in the Western Region. The analysis, undertaken by the All Island Research Observatory (AIRO), identified 42 labour catchments across the region.

Our report contains a detailed labour market profile of the principal town in each of the seven counties – Galway, Ennis, Sligo, Letterkenny, Castlebar, Roscommon and Carrick-on-Shannon. All of these labour catchments have significantly more people at work than the resident population of workers in the town, highlighting that they have access to a larger labour supply than may be thought. Read more

Further analysis of 26 smaller labour catchments will be published later in January.

County Infographics

July saw one of our most popular outputs, ‘snapshot’ infographics for each of the seven western counties.  The infographics show a range of facts about each county such as its 2016 population as a percentage of its 1841 population, the percentage with a third level qualification, average time to travel to work and broadband access.  Read more

WDC Insights

During 2018 we continued to publish succinct, 2-page WDC Insights on a range of issues including Electricity Transmission for Renewable Generation, Enterprise in the Western Region 2016, County Incomes in the Western Region, Growth and Change in Regional GVA and Education Levels in the Western Region.

Regional Sectoral Profiles

October 2018 saw the launch of a series of Regional Sectoral Profiles of economic sectors in the Western Region, analysing the latest employment and enterprise data and drawing out key policy issues.  A detailed report and WDC Insights summary is published for each sector.

The first examined was Wholesale & Retail which employs just over 42,000 people in the Western Region, this was followed by Health & Care which employs a similar number.  The next in the series, on the Education sector, will be published later in January.

Policy Submissions

One of the big work areas in any year is making submissions to national and regional policy consultations and 2018 proved particularly busy on the submissions front.

The year kicked off with submissions on the Issues Paper published for both the Northern & Western and Southern Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSES).  Following the consultation period in early 2018, the Draft RSES documents are currently open for public consultation and we’ll be updating on the WDC’s submissions shortly.

Other submissions during 2018 included EirGrid’s Electricity Transmission Development Plan 2017-2027, Seanad Consultation on SMEs and the National Digital Strategy among others.

City-Led Development & Peripheral Regions

In September the WDC sponsored the Annual Conference of the Irish Branch of the Regional Studies Association.  The programme featured two international keynote speakers: from the US Prof. Mark Partridge and from Scotland Dr Andrew Copus.  Both focused on different aspects of the interaction between rural and urban areas.  The day also included a range of presentations from Irish academics and policymakers including WDC Policy Analyst Dr Helen McHenry.  A report on the conference appeared in the Winter edition of the Local Authority Times.  Read more

WDC Insights Blog

We continued to post an (almost!) weekly blog throughout the year with posts on all of the above publications, outputs and activities.  Other topics ranged from Nuts about NUTS and How many farmers are in the Western Region? to Leprechauns in Invisible Regions, Caring for the West and Is e-working on the increase?

To keep up to date with new WDC Policy Analysis outputs published during 2019, sign-up to our Mailing List.  To receive our weekly WDC Insights Policy blog by e-mail, follow the blog. And to follow us on Twitter we’re @WDCInsights.

And if you want to get in touch with any of us directly, we’re firstnamelastname@wdc.ie

Looking forward to working with you in 2019.

Deirdre Frost, Helen McHenry & Pauline White

Success for WDC Investment Fund Portfolio Companies

 

WDC Investment Fund portfolio companies have been successful in securing competitive national funding and recognition.

Three companies from the WDC Investment Fund’s portfolio companies have secured €6.7 million in funding from the first round of the Government’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF). Another two companies have received awards in the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Competition.

Gillian Buckley, Manager of the WDC Investment Fund commented “These successes for five of our portfolio companies show the exceptionally high calibre of innovative companies being developed in the West of Ireland.   These companies are at the very cutting edge of disruptive technology and have the potential to address significant societal and healthcare issues.”

Neurent Medical Ltd has secured €2.9 million from the DTIF.  The company is creating a new therapy for patients suffering from rhinitis, a condition that causes inflammation of the nose. It will give the patient immediate and long-lasting relief from their symptoms and remove the need to take daily medication to manage their condition.

Signum Medical Ltd is developing novel minimally invasive technologies to treat colorectal diseases and have been awarded €1.9 million.

Hookbio Ltd is developing a disruptive technology platform that will allow pharma companies and clinicians to develop more accurate and responsive disease models for drug testing got €1.9 million under the DTIF.

In addition Loci Orthopedics Ltd was successful in winning the overall prize in the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Awards.  While another WDC Investment Fund company supported through the Bioexel Accelerator Programme, HidraMed Solutions Ltd won the Best New Start-up category award.

The WDC Investment Fund is a provider of risk capital to SMEs and Social Enterprises in the Western Region of Ireland and operates on an Evergreen basis reinvesting all profits back into new investments.  It has to date invested over €50 million in 160 commercial and not-for-profit enterprises across all sectors from Lifesciences, ICT, CleanTech, Food, Tourism, Creative Economy and Social and Enterprise Infrastructure.

Ends.

Further information contact: Caroline Coffey, 094 9861441 |carolinecoffey@wdc.ie

 

 

Ministers Ring and Canney announce €500,000 in extra funding for the Western Development Commission (WDC)

 Funding will support the Atlantic Economic Corridor initiative and Western Investment Fund.

Michael Ring, TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, and Seán Canney TD, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development, today (10 December 2018), announced additional funding of €500,000 for the Western Development Commission (WDC) to support the work of the Atlantic Economic Corridor initiative and to maximise the use of the Western Investment Fund which provides financing for micro-enterprises and SMEs in the Western region.

Speaking at a meeting of the Atlantic Economic Corridor Taskforce in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, Minister Canney said: “The AEC project is a collaborative initiative, with public and private stakeholders working together to develop the strengths and assets of the cities and towns along our western seaboard, from Donegal to Kerry.”

“The aim of the project is to connect the economic clusters and catchment areas of the region to attract investment, support job creation and improve the quality of life of the people who live there.  The project is overseen by the Atlantic Economic Corridor Taskforce, which I chair, involving key stakeholders from the public and private sectors who share a common vision for the growth of the region.“

Minister Canney continued: “As the AEC initiative develops and grows, the importance of strengthening the collaboration between stakeholders and in communicating our message is paramount.   I have therefore asked the Western Development Commission to take on a co-ordinating role to support the work of the AEC Taskforce and its Subgroups. The support and knowledge that the WDC can bring to the AEC project at regional level will be invaluable to my Department and to the development of the Atlantic Economic Corridor project as a whole.”

To support the WDC in this work, Minister Ring said: “With Minister Canney, I have secured €500,000 in additional funding for the WDC for 2019, which will help them to strengthen their resources, both to support the AEC project and to maximise the impact of the Western Investment Fund which provides investment for micro-enterprises and SMEs in the Western region.  I want to thank the Board and Chief Executive of the Western Development Commission for agreeing to carry out this new AEC coordination role and my Department looks forward to working closely with the Commission to help deliver on the AEC’s objectives.”

The announcement comes just weeks after projects based in the AEC region secured €50 million in investment from three Government funds to support rural and urban regeneration and enterprise development.

Tomás Ó Síocháin, Chief Executive Officer of the WDC, said: “There is significant alignment between the work of the Atlantic Economic Corridor and the goal of the Western Development Commission in building a sustainable future for vibrant communities. The work of the AEC Taskforce will benefit the full length of the western seaboard. The WDC, in co-ordinating business, state and community effort, can bring the benefit of 20 years of investment, development and policy experience to bear in helping the AEC to become a globally competitive region of scale.”

 

ENDS

Note for Editors:

Atlantic Economic Corridor

The Atlantic Economic Corridor is a collaborative initiative between the public and private sectors to maximise the assets along Ireland’s western seaboard and connect the economic hubs, clusters and catchments of the region to attract investment, support job creation and contribute to the Government’s regional development objectives.

The counties covered by the AEC area are: Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick, and Kerry.

The AEC initiative is overseen by a Taskforce chaired by Minister Canney.  The Taskforce comprises representatives from key Government Departments, public bodies, the business sector, local and regional government bodies and Third Level Institutions. For further information, see www.atlanticeconomiccorridor.ie.

 

Western Development Commission and Western Investment Fund

The Western Development Commission is a statutory body under the aegis of the Department of Rural and Community Development that has the remit to promote both social and economic development in the western counties of Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Clare.  The WDC also adds value and regional focus to the work of national bodies, and actively engages with regional interests to initiate projects that build on the region’s strengths.

The WDC Investment Fund provides investment funding for Businesses, Community and Creative Industries, based in, or relocating to, the Western Region that are able to demonstrate they can provide a return on investment consummate with the investment risk being taken.

For further information, see www.wdc.ie.

Smart Atlantic Way: roadmap to a smarter future in the West of Ireland launched

A ground-breaking new report was launched by the Western Development Commission and the Insight Centre for Data Analytics in the Council Chamber in Roscommon. The report entitled “Smart Atlantic Way – A Roadmap towards a Smart Region”, does exactly what it suggests. It provides a roadmap for a Smart Region along Ireland’s Atlantic Coast.

There are 5 main pillars described in the report:

Priority 1: Smart Regional Observatory
Priority 2: Data Infrastructure and Services
Priority 3: E-Governance
Priority 4: Smart Business Network
Priority 5: Smart Communities

The report was officially launched by Ivan Connaughton the Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council. Mathieu D’Aquin, the head of Insight in NUI Galway and lead author of the report presented on behalf of Insight and Clodagh Barry presented on behalf of the Western Development Commission. Others involved in the launch included, Stephen Brennan – Ireland’s Chief Digital Advisor, Jeremy Millard – European eGov advisor, Adegboyega Ojo – Head of eGov at Insight, Niall Connolly – NUI Maynooth and All Ireland Smart Cities Forum, Carmel Austin – Mayo County Council GIS Officer, Niall Ó Brolcháin, Lukasz Porwol and Umair ul Hassan all from Insight in NUI Galway. Over 100 people were registered to attend the launch both in a packed council chamber and online.

According to Mathieu D’Aquin, “Our Smart Region in the North-West of Europe has great assets that can be used to make it compete with the most advanced economies in Europe and the World. This will require time, leadership, commitment and investment.”

“Designing and implementing a Smart Region capability in the West of Ireland is a key step to addressing disparity and distance issues facing non-urban environments”, according to Ian Brannigan (Head of Regional Development WDC). “The integration of the internet of things with cost and labour saving physical devices will go a long way to unlocking potential in the Region. As such the Western Development Commission is excited to work with regional stakeholders, including the Insights centre for data analytics to initiate the steps to ensure the West of Ireland Region achieves its aim to become the Smart Atlantic Way”, said Ian Brannigan.

“I am delighted to send my best wishes to the attendees at the launch of the report, Smart Atlantic Way – A Roadmap towards a Smart Region in Roscommon today. I look forward to working closely with the WDC and other organisations as we strive to develop a smart region that will be of benefit to us all”, said Oliver Daniels, CEO Insight Centre for Data Analytics.

“As the new CEO of the Western Development Commission I see today’s launch in Roscommon of the report, Smart Atlantic Way – A Roadmap towards a Smart Region as a key plank in the platform for future growth across the region. This roadmap offers the opportunity to enable sustainable decision making at all levels, and in the longer term will build a dynamic skills base that will facilitate balanced regional development both within the region and against benchmark comparator regions across the world”, said Tomás Ó Siocháin, CEO Western Development Commission.

The full report is available at http://smartatlanticway.ie

A video of the launch is available online at https://www.facebook.com/smartatlanticway

 

Blue Circular Economy – An initiative to support Marine plastics fishing gear recycling with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Aelsund.

The Western Development Commission with partners has recently been awarded funding from the Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic programme for an initiative to support a solution to reuse and recycle fishing gear from our sea’s called “(Blue Circular Economy BCE)”.  The first partner meeting by the BCE consortium aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) offering products and services within the marine derived plastics sector in the region to attain a greater market reach. Building on the network developed under the Circular Ocean initiative, (http://www.circularocean.eu ), (2015-2018), the project will set up a multi-level cluster to connect and support relevant SMEs in the region.

BCE is funded by the NPA programme with partners in Ireland, Norway, Scotland, and Greenland. 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 the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and the speakers included:

  • Environmental Research institute. North Highland College UHI (Scotland)
  • Western Development Commission  (Ireland)
  • The Centre for Sustainable Design, University for the Creative Arts (UK)
  • Arctic Technology Centre (Greenland)
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norway)

The Blue Circular Economy project will use the Regio Stars 2016 award winning project Circular Ocean as a springboard to accelerate and further the market reach of SMEs utilising marine derived plastic. Specifically BCE will capitalise on the substantial groundwork undertaken by Circular Ocean, especially with regards to creating awareness of both the issue and potential solutions, the piloting of novel uses of fishing nets (3-D printing, building materials, and waste water treatment), and developing an extensive network of relevant stakeholders including SMEs, entrepreneurs, local authorities, and NGOs.

Full project details and launch expected in early 2019.

WDC WELCOMES APPOINTMENT OF MINISTER SEÁN CANNEY

Tomás Ó Síocháin CEO | Western Development Commission

WDC CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin acknowledges the contribution of Minister Seán Kyne during his tenure in the Department of Rural and Community Development

The Western Development Commission has today (Wednesday 17th October 2018) welcomed the appointment of Minister Seán Canney as Minister of State to the Department of Rural and Community Development. The appointment follows the allocation of €500,000 in additional funding to the Western Development Commission in Budget 2019, which will allow the WDC to further its work in key areas to promote the economic and social development of the West in 2019.

The Western Development Commission, established by statute in 1998, advises the Government on policy for the western region, plays a key role in regional development, supports small and medium business through the Western Investment Fund and raises the social, cultural and economic profile of the west through lookwest.ie and other initiatives.

The additional funding of €62m for the Department of Rural and Community Development in this year’s budget is to be welcomed. Particularly welcome in the context of the west;

  • Key transport investment projects in the region including completion of the N4 Castlebaldwin-Collooney road, improving connection to the key regional centre of Sligo, and completion of the runway overlay project at Ireland West Airport Knock.
  • Pavement repair and rehabilitation works on regional and local roads which play a crucial role in ensuring connectivity of rural areas.
  • Future Growth Loan Scheme for SMEs and the agriculture and food sector, in the context of preparing for Brexit.
  • Extension of the film corporation tax credit until December 2024 and in particular the introduction of a new, time-limited, regional uplift of an additional 5%, which will support the work of the WDC €2m WRAP Fund.

Tomás Ó Síocháin CEO of the WDC, welcomed the appointment, saying: ‘I look forward to working with Minister Seán Canney and the Department of Community and Rural Development on further aligning the work and delivery of state agencies in the west. I also want to congratulate Minister Seán Kyne on his appointment as Chief Whip and Aire na Gaeltachta, and to thank him for his commitment to regional development during his time as Minister.’

Read more about the initiatives such as the €2m WRAP Strategic Investment Fund in the audio visual sector in the west and the other work of the Western Development Commission at www.wdc.ie . See what living and working in the west offers on www.lookwest.ie

 

Note for editors:

Further information contact: Caroline Coffey, WDC 094 9861441 |carolinecoffey@wdc.ie

Tomás Ó Síocháin appointed as CEO as the WDC welcomes renewed focus on Regional Development

NEW CEO APPOINTED TO THE WESTERN DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION

Tomás Ó Síocháin appointed as CEO as the WDC welcomes renewed focus on Regional Development

The Western Development Commission has today (Tuesday 25th September 2018) announced that Tomás Ó Síocháin has been appointed by the Board of the WDC as Chief Executive Officer. Tomás joins the organisation from NUI Galway, where he was External Engagement Programme Manager, having previously spent more than 14 years as an editor and journalist with RTÉ and TG4.

The Western Development Commission, established by statute in 1998, advises the Government on policy for the western region, plays a key role in regional development, supports small and medium business through the Western Investment Fund and raises the social, cultural and economic profile of the west through lookwest.ie and other initiatives;

  • Investment in the region – Since 2010 the WDC has sourced and directed over €13M in total funding towards regional enterprise and employment development
  • Regional Policy and analysis – in critical areas such as census analysis, broadband rollout and the creative economy
  • Western Investment Fund – 2700 direct jobs and 5000 in total (indirect and direct) supported by the WDC in the region in recent years
  • EU project work to total value of €12m (FY2017) in areas such as renewable bioenergy, the creative economy, cultural tourism and micro and SME enterprises

The appointment is timely, given the renewed focus on Regional Development as part of the National Planning Framework and the announcement of €4 billion in funding under the Ireland 2040 project. These developments build on the establishment of the Department of Rural and Community Development, and the appointment of a new Board to the WDC.

Dr Deirdre Garvey, Chair of the Board of the WDC, welcomed the appointment saying; “On behalf of the Board, I am delighted to announce the appointment of the CEO and welcome Tomás to the WDC. It is a time of significant opportunity for the WDC in context of the National Planning Framework. I look forward to working with Tomás and the staff as we build on the success of the WDC and develop these opportunities for the Western region.”

A native of Co. Clare and living in Co. Galway, Tomás Ó Síocháin sees first-hand the opportunities for the policy, development and financial support offered by the Western Development Commission: ‘In terms of work-life balance, opportunity and physical beauty, the west of Ireland has few if any parallels on a global stage. I am privileged to lead an organisation that has done so much in facilitating and supporting growth in this region. A significant opportunity now exists to build on the work of the WDC and others in a collaborative and cohesive way; supporting economic, social and cultural growth, not only for those who currently live and work here but to help to inform the decision making of those that will ‘look west’ and choose a better quality of life in the future.’

Read more about the work of the Western Development Commission at www.wdc.ie or what living and working in the west offers on www.lookwest.ie

 Note for editors:

Further information contact: Caroline Coffey, WDC 094 9861441 |carolinecoffey@wdc.ie

 Brief biography: A native of Quin, Co. Clare, Tomás Ó Síocháin holds degrees in law (B.Corp & LLB) a H.Dip in Applied Communications (Gaeilge) and an MBA from NUI Galway. As External Engagement Programme Manager in NUI Galway, he led the incorporation of Shannon College of Hotel Management into NUI Galway, was the inaugural Chair of the Regional Skills Forum West and is currently Chair of the Communications Committee of the Atlantic Economic Corridor Task Force.

He worked for over 14 years in public service broadcasting, as a broadcast journalist covering business, news and sport for RTÉ and as a programme editor working across Nuacht RTÉ and Nuacht TG4. He was Executive Producer of the 2011 TG4 General Election Leaders’ Debate and Presidential Debate and is an External Assessor for the Broadcast Authority of Ireland’s Sound and Vision Scheme.

 

 

 

A Snapshot of the Western Region – WDC publishes a series of county infographics

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has just published a series of eight infographics showing of key statistics for the Western Region and each of its seven counties.  The data is from the CSO’s Census of Population in 2016 with analysis by the WDC.

 

The infographic shows

  • The population of the county
  • The percentage living in rural areas.
  • The percentage of the working age population is in the labour force
  • Average time to travel to work in minutes

There is a different infographic for each county and there is also one for the Western Region.   The Region’s infographic  shows the Western Region population growth since the last Census in 2011 (1.0%) and the growth over the last ten years (8.7%).

The Region has more females (50.4%) than males and that 15% of the population are over 65 and more than a fifth are under 15 (21.1%).

Infographics are an entertaining way to provide information about the Region and its counties.  They show important county characteristics and information in an accessible and lively way.  We hope they will be used in schools and in workplaces and anywhere that people want to know more about the places where they live or are visiting.

There is a good mix of statistics highlighted on the infographics, showing access to broadband in the Western Region (64%) and also that most of the population consider themselves to be in very good health (57.6%).

The infographics also give information about work and education.  In the Western Region the average time taken to travel to work is 24.8 minutes.  59% of the working age population is in the work force and 39% have a third level qualification.  Two employment sectors are also shown.  Almost 14% of the Region’s workers are in Industry and 6.8% working in agriculture.

You can download the infographics for the Western Region and for the seven counties here:  https://www.wdc.ie/publications/reports-and-papers/

 

Helen McHenry

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.