Western Development Commission appoints Gavin Doherty as Investment Executive with special responsibility for the North West.

Western Development Commission appoints Gavin Doherty as Investment Executive with special responsibility for the North West.

  • Investment Executive with special responsibility for the North West, Gavin Doherty joins the WDC.
  • The WDC Investment Fund will be holding a series of monthly clinics in Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo to outline funding supports available to businesses and community groups in the North West.

The WDC is pleased to announce the appointment of a new investment executive with special responsibility for the North West .Gavin Doherty is an experienced corporate finance professional and chartered accountant. Prior to taking up the position of Investment Executive with the WDC, Gavin worked as a corporate finance manager with Grant Thornton and a financial advisor to various government departments with the NTMA.

The WDC Investment Fund has to date invested over €55 million in 166 SMEs, Micro and Social/Community Enterprises in the region with over 5,000 people employed directly and indirectly in portfolio companies. This investment has leveraged an additional €250m for these portfolio
companies and a realised acquisition value of over €500 million. Recent investments/lending include Atrian Medical in Galway, Lough Gill Brewery in Sligo and Cerebreon Technologies in Donegal.

The WDC Investment Fund has also invested in three accelerator programmes which have supported 40 pre-seed companies across the ICT, MedTech, and AgTech sectors. Due to the success of its Evergreen Strategy the WDC now has significant funds to reinvest in enterprises in the Western Region.

Speaking on the appointment, Western Development Commission CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin said; The North-West Region is one of the organisations key focus areas. Since the launch of our strategy ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ last March we have taken on a number of new staff members to ensure we are delivering on our commitments. Gavin has the right breadth and scope of experience for this important role and I believe he will be a significant asset to us in working to engage with businesses and communities in the North West.”

The new investment executive is looking forward to taking up the role. “I’m delighted and looking forward to beginning the all-important engagement with SMEs and communities. The investment fund can help drive job creation and support enterprise resilience in the North West.”

The WDC Investment team will be at IT Sligo on Monday 25th November in room G1031 from 10am to 4pm.  They will also be at the CoLab in Letterkenny IT on Tuesday 26th November from 10am to 4pm and The Hive, Carrick On Shannon on Friday 22nd November from 10am to 4pm.

If you believe your business or community project may fit the WDC investment or lending criteria, please get in touch with Gavin to make an appointment on gavindoherty@wdc.ie or visit www.wdc.ie/wdc-investment-fund

 

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact 

Allan Mulrooney, Head of Communications

allanmulrooney@wdc.ie or +353 87 334 3713

Ghost nets and plastic pirates – The emerging opportunities from marine plastic recyclates off our Western shores

The Western Development Commission (WDC), met with an international group of experts at a transnational workshop on ways of engaging SMEs in novel opportunities for recycling marine waste plastics e.g. end of life fishing nets, and using them as a valuable feedstock for new or regenerated products.

“The issues of responsibility for our marine environment and opportunities for regional SMEs that such an approach represents is something the WDC is pursuing with other EU maritime facing organisations” said Ian Brannigan, head of regional development , WDC.

This workshop on the grounds of the Danish Technical University (DTU), in Copenhagen, reviewed issues of marine plastic recyclates such as “ghost nets” or end of life fishing gear as well as novel solutions to the issue of marine plastics such as the “plastic pirates” initiative.

(https://www.greenropeitalia.org/plastic-pirates.html#).

Speaking at the meeting, Siv Marina Flø Grimstad (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU) outlined to the gathering the concept of “how we need to contribute to a more sustainable society” in our approach to marine plastic recycling and how initiatives such as the Blue Circular Economy (www.bluecirculareconomy.eu) may achieve this through identifying and engaging marine plastic recycling clusters in the identified regions (Norway and Ireland).

Neil James (Environmental Research Institute) outlined the impact of plastic upon our habitat and fauna “Over 56% of our bird species globally has been negatively impacted by waste plastics, ingestion, entanglement etc”.

Esther Savina (DTU), outlined emerging possibilities on biodegradable fishing nets based on biodegradable resins, which offered potential longer term solutions.

At the conclusion it was outlined how under the auspices of the Blue Circular Economy initiative , potential SMEs will be identified and engaged in the coming 18 months to support the development of marine plastics recycling clusters. The WDC will lead this work, with regional stakeholders, in the West of Ireland.

 

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About Blue Circular Economy.      

Established in 2018 the Blue Circular Economy is a partnership between Western Development Commission, Technical University of Denmark, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, The Centre for Sustainable Design® at UCA, and the Environmental Research Institute.  The three year programme is funded by the Northern Periphery and Arctic 2014-2020 programme.  Full details on www.bluecirculareconomy.eu 

 

The Business of Literature – Major Literary Tourism Initiative Set to Enhance Commercial Capacity in Northern European Region

Major new three-year literary tourism pilot programme set to launch across four Northern European countries this Autumn.

Spot-lit is a new three-year project that aims to grow the literary tourism sector in the Northern Periphery and Arctic region by supporting the organisations and businesses in this culturally-rich region to grow collaborate and better engage audiences together. Literary Tourism is an emerging niche sector within the wider cultural tourism sector, where places with literary heritage offer author and fiction-related literary tourism opportunities along with opportunities arising from literary festivals, trails and book shops.Funded by Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme, the regions participating in the Spot-lit programme area are Western Ireland, Northern Ireland, Eastern Finland and South-West Scotland.

All share a number of common features such as low population density, low accessibility, low economic diversity, abundant natural resources, and high impact of climate change.

Collectively, the region is home to world-class literary icons and landscapes, however, research suggests there is potential for this sector to work together and grow significantly. Current low levels of joined-up literary tourism activity in the Northern Periphery and Arctic Region make it a sector that is ripe for development.

Spot-lit addresses the need for shared development and marketing of existing assets and the development of new ones, which respond to emerging literary and cultural consumer needs. This will result in a better cultural tourism offering and deliver greater economic impact than projects developed in national isolation.

The programme will include the development of a cluster network across the regions, a series of support workshops, the development of 20 new literary products or services and shared learning and transnational marketing.

Some of the Spot-lit partners at a recent partner meeting in Scoltland (left to right) Filip Sever, Mary Keaveney, Minna Mustonen, Helena Aaltonen  Marlene Kohllechner-Autto, Shane Campbell.

Speaking on the occasion of the launch of the project, CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin of the Western Development Commission said: “We are delighted to launch this programme today following an extensive period of research and development. Spot-Lit has the capacity to deliver tangible benefits to under-tapped regions across Europe through the literary tourism sector which we know has the potential to be a major economic driver. We encourage any organisation or business in the literary tourism sector to visit our website and sign-up for our information roadshows in early October.”

This Autumn, the Spot-lit partners in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Finland will deliver a series of workshops for businesses interested in Literary Tourism development.

Workshop 1: Building Successful Literary Tourism Experiences for Visitors
Workshop 2: Designing and developing your Literary Tourism product or service
Workshop 3: Knowing and growing your market

Following on from the workshops, businesses will be invited to participate in a Literary Business Support Programme. The programme will be open to SMEs, social enterprises, community groups and literary associations with a unique idea for the development of Literary Tourism in their area. This bespoke programme will involve a series of monthly engagement workshops, learning journeys, business advice clinics and individual mentoring supports. The programme will engage with 5 businesses in each country and will include a €10,000 innovation voucher. The focus of the business idea/product will be for the development of Literary Tourism.

The project will officially launch on September 25th with a new website at http://www.spot-lit.eu, dedicated social media channels @spot_lit_eu, followed by a call out for literary businesses and organisations to register their interest for upcoming events and workshops.

 

 

 

 

 

58,000 Enterprises in Western Region employing 250,000 people

  • 92.9% of all enterprises in Western Region are micro-enterprises (10 or fewer people)
  • Largest number of enterprises in Construction, Wholesale & Retail and Professional Services
  • No. of enterprises in Western Region fell 4.3% between 2008 and 2012 but grew 6.5% (2012-2017)

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has today published new analysis of enterprises in the Western Region.  Based on recent CSO Business Demography data, the WDC has released an infographic ‘Enterprise in the Western Region 2017’ with accompanying data for the seven counties within its area (Clare, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo).

The newly released data shows that in 2017, there were 57,951 enterprises registered in the Western Region. This accounted for 17.1% of all enterprises registered across Ireland at the time.  In total, 255,261 people were working in these businesses, including both owners and employees.  In the Western Region, employees accounted for 84.6% of everyone working in enterprises. This was lower than the 90% state average meaning that owners accounted for a larger share of the enterprise workforce in the region.

The data for the Western Region highlighted that 92.9% of enterprises were micro-enterprises (employing fewer than 10 people). However, because of their small size micro-enterprises only accounted for 35.8% of everyone working in enterprises in the region.

The data shows that micro-enterprises play a more significant role in the Western Region than nationally, both in terms of their share of all enterprises (92.9% in the Western Region, 92.1% nationally) and their share of employment in enterprises (35.8% in the Western Region, 26.5% nationally).

While larger firms (with 10 or more people) only account for 7.1% of enterprises in the Western Region, they employ 64.2% of people working for the region’s businesses.

The number of enterprises registered in the Western Region fell by 4.3% between 2008 and 2012. This was weaker than the national performance where the number of enterprises grew marginally (0.1%) over this period.

With economic recovery, the number increased again, growing by 6.5% in the Western Region between 2012 and 2017 (11% nationally).  Much of this growth occurred in more recent years and particularly between 2016 and 2017.

Author of the report, WDC Policy Analyst Pauline White says:

‘Clearly micro-enterprises play a very significant role in the Western Region’s enterprise base.  There is a higher share of owner-managers working in enterprises in the region which is important to keep in mind when designing and planning business supports. While enterprises in the region were hit very hard during the recession, there has been recovery, accelerating in recent years. There were more enterprises registered in the Western Region in 2017 than a decade earlier.’  

In terms of the number of enterprises, Construction is the largest sector in the Western Region accounting for 20.4% of all enterprises registered in the region.  Wholesale & Retail (15%) and Professional, Scientific & Technical activities (9.4%) are next largest.  All three sectors include many sole traders and micro-enterprises e.g. construction trades, solicitors, architects, small shops and they are also the three largest sectors nationally.

Considering the number of people working in enterprises however shows a different pattern.  Wholesale & Retail is the largest enterprise sector in employment terms (17.8% of all people working in enterprises in the Western Region) followed by Industry (manufacturing) (17.2%) and Accommodation & Food Service (13.4%). These three sectors include many larger businesses e.g. factories, hotels, large retail stores, so account for a greater share of employment than of enterprises.

According to Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the WDC:

‘Enterprises form the backbone of the local and regional economy.  Supporting the establishment and growth of sustainable enterprises across the Western Region is one of the three strategic themes of our recently launched WDC Strategy 2019-2024.  This analysis of enterprise data helps to inform the WDC’s work in supporting enterprises through the WDC Investment Fund, creation of a network of Enterprise Hubs across the Atlantic Economic Corridor area and a number of other sectoral initiatives.’ 

Download ‘Enterprise in the Western Region 2017’ and key statistics for each county of the Western Region from https://www.wdc.ie/publications

 

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact Allan Mulrooney, Head of Communications, WDC on allanmulrooney@wdc.ie or +353 87 334 3713

Notes to Editor:

  • The Western Development Commission (WDC) is a statutory body promoting social and economic development in the Western Region. It was established in 1998 to cover counties Clare, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo. wdc.ie
  • The WDC’s Policy Analysis Team analyses regional and rural issues, suggests solutions to regional difficulties and provides a regional perspective on national policy objectives. This publication is part of a suite of WDC Insights publications which aim to provide accessible information for people in the Western Region, based on analysis of key socio-economic data and providing insights on important issues for the region and its counties. Other outputs of the WDC’s Policy Analysis Team include Policy Briefings, Reports, Submissions and the weekly WDC Insights Blog.
  • Data Source: All data sourced from CSO, Business Demography 2017 Tables BRA08 and TableBRA18. Analysis of data was undertaken by the Western Development Commission.
    • The geographical breakdown for enterprises is an approximation. The county breakdown is based on the address at which an enterprise is registered for Revenue purposes, rather than where the business actually operates from. In particular, where an enterprise has local units in several counties (e.g. a supermarket chain), but one head office where all employment is registered, all its employees are counted against the county where the head office is located.
    • Data on total enterprises, total persons engaged and enterprises/persons engaged by Sector are based on a figure for ‘total enterprises’ which includes all economic sectors (NACE Rev2) except Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing and Public Administration & Defence.
    • Data on enterprises and persons engaged by enterprise size (micro-enterprises etc.) and data on changes over time are based on a figure for ‘business economy’ enterprises which includes all economic sectors (NACE Rev2) except Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing, Public Administration & Defence, Education, Health & Social Work, Arts/ Entertainment/ Recreation and Other Services.

The Western Development Commission convenes meeting in Galway to discuss the issues of marine plastics arising from waste fishing gear, the circular economy and the economic opportunities.

Caption- WDC, their EU partners and regional stakeholders meet to discuss forming solutions to the issues of waste fishing nets, ropes and components.From left to right: Ian Brannigan(WDC), Anita McKeown(UCD), Mike Devane(AEC), Lucy Hunt(UCD)Catherine Barrett(BIM), Siv Marina Flø Grimstad(NTNU), Martin Charter(CfSD), Richard Glavee-Geo(NTNU),Neil James(ERI), Stephen McCormack(WDC), Clodagh Barry(WDC), Margaret Rae(Marine Institute

International experts from Norway, Denmark and the UK gathered in Galway on June 12/13 at a special symposium convened by the Western Development Commission (WDC), to debate and share views on marine plastic waste and the development of a blue circular economy, focusing on Fishing Nets, Ropes and Components.

The partners from the Blue Circular Economy initiative www.bluecirculareconomy.eu met with academics, researchers, representatives from the fishing industry as well as national stakeholders with involvement with our coastlines to discuss the opportunities for the local innovation ecosystems and for SMEs to attain greater market reach from their locality. This was the first time for this consortium to meet in Ireland.

“We learned from today that there is a significant opportunity to apply circular economy principles to thousands of tonnes of marine plastics through recycling and repurposing, which could lead to opportunities for marine communities” said Ian Brannigan , Head of Regional Development WDC. “The WDC see this as an ideal way to shepard resources to grow and safeguard for the region’s future”

A special briefing was organised in the Harbour Master Boardroom overlooking Galway Bay on Wednesday, where current and potential Irish stakeholders were given the opportunity to understand the model of Marine Innovation Clusters from Innovation Norway.

Údarás na Gaeltachta kindly played host to the consortium at their headquarters in Furbo on day two, where Mark de Faoite(Director of Enterprise, Employment, Property & Engineering) outlined their plans for the Páirc na Mara Marine Innovation Park in Galway. The group then heard from Professor Martin Charter and Associate Professor Richard Glavee-Geo, who discussed the Blue Circular Economy project in more detail and what the next steps in developing local innovation systems and supply chains are, and, how potential products might be marketed. The group will be hosting an innovation workshop in Galway sometime in January 2020.

About Blue Circular Economy:

Established in 2018 the Blue Circular Economy is a partnership between Western Development Commission, Technical University of Denmark, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, The Centre for Sustainable Design® at UCA, and the Environmental Research Institute. The three year programme, with partners in Ireland, UK, Demark and Norway, will promote and support companies to create sustainable industries in the recovery and recycling of used fishing netting into commercial products. The Blue Circular Economy project is funded by the Northern Periphery and Arctic 2014-2020 programme.

For further information, please contact Stephen McCormack, BCE Project Officer stephenmccormack@wdc.ie or call   087 7113621

Smaller Labour Catchments across the Western Region

Travel to Work Areas and Labour Catchments

Analysis of travel to work data can be used to identify the geographic catchment from which a town draws its workforce, otherwise known as its labour catchment. Measurement of labour markets based on Travel to Work Areas (TTWAs) has been well established in the UK for many years, helping to inform various public policies ranging from employment to transport provision. Companies and large employers use TTWAs to help identify optimal locations to access labour supply.

The use of TTWAs is less well established in Ireland, and where used has largely been focussed on the larger cities especially Dublin. There has generally been little focus on labour catchments in other centres or more rural regions.

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has worked with the All Island Research Observatory (AIRO) to examine the labour catchments of towns across the Western Region based on Census of Population data 2006 and 2016. The town labour catchments show that area from which a town draws most of its labour supply; each catchment is based on the inclusions of Electoral Divisions (EDs) that are assigned to a town, based on commuting to work flows.

Last year the WDC published the findings on the labour catchments of the principal towns of the seven counties of the Western Region (Galway, Ennis, Sligo, Letterkenny, Castlebar, Roscommon and Carrick-on-Shannon). The full report Travel to Work and Labour Catchments in the Western Region, A Profile of Seven Town Labour Catchments is available for download here (14.2MB). Each of the individual town reports are also available to download separately (Galway City, Sligo Town, Ennis,  Letterkenny, Castlebar, Carrick-on-Shannon, Roscommon).

The WDC is now publishing the findings of the other smaller catchments across the Western Region. This is the first time such detailed labour market analyses have been undertaken for the smaller centres across the Western Region. These data and findings can inform local and regional economic development and help support appropriate policies to ensure optimal local and regional development.

Smaller Catchments

The WDC identifies 26 labour catchments, which complement the 7 labour catchments of the principal towns in each of the counties which were published in 2018, see above.

In these 26 publications, the WDC draws on Census 2016 POWCAR (Place of Work Census of Anonymised Records) data to examine the travel to work patterns in centres with a population greater than 1,000 across the Western Region.

These 26 smaller catchments provide insights into the travel to work patterns of workers living there which are then used to generate labour catchments which show the geographic area from which each town draws most of its workers. Each town’s labour catchment has many more workers living there than the Census measure of the town’s resident workforce and it is a better measure of labour supply. This is particularly useful when considering employment and investment decisions.

Socio-economic profiles

Each of the reports identify the place of work of the resident workforce and provides detailed analysis of the socio-economic profile of workers providing information on age, gender, education levels, and sector of employment. There are comparisons with the rest of the Western Region and the State Average. There is also trend analyses indicating the extent of change between 2006 and 2016.

For ease of presentation the 26 smaller catchment reports are presented by County. Below are links to each of the 26 reports. In practice labour catchments extend across county boundaries, indeed that is one of the rationales for considering labour catchments rather than administrative boundaries; people travel to work regardless of county boundaries and these patterns and catchments provide a better evidence base for informing policy.

Some key points include:

  • Labour Supply: All the town labour catchments have significantly more people at work than the Census population at work for that town and have therefore access to a larger labour supply than normal Census definitions would indicate.
  • Profile of ‘Rural’ employment: The profile of employment in these smaller centres provide important insights into ‘rural’ employment, which is much are complex and varied than the perception of rural as largely agricultural employment.
  • Trends: Changes over time, in both place of work and the socio-economic characteristics of workers indicate little change in the geography of labour catchments but much change in the profile of resident workers, most notably in their age and education levels.

County Clare

The two labour catchments within Co. Clare have both recorded an increase in workers resident in the catchments. The Shannon labour catchment is concentrated around the Shannon Free Zone and Shannon Airport and is geographically compact. The Kilrush labour catchment is more extensive and now incorporates a previously separate Kilkee labour catchment. In both there is evidence of longer distances travelled to work than previously.

County Donegal

There are 8 smaller catchments located within Co. Donegal, reflecting the large size of the county, its geography with an extensive border both with Northern Ireland and the sea, and the relatively small size of some of the catchments.

Of the 8 labour catchments, 5 recorded a decline in the number of resident workers in the decade between 2006 and 2016. The three that recorded an increase in resident workers are Donegal, Dungloe and Carndonagh,  illustrating that some more remote areas are experiencing growth.

Each report identifies the top 10 work destinations for residents living in each labour catchment and the extent of cross border commuting is presented.

County Galway

There are 4 smaller catchments located within Co. Galway and just one, Gort labour catchment, recorded a decrease in the number of workers living there over the decade 2006-2016. Clifden, Tuam and Loughrea labour catchments recorded increases of varying degrees. The data presented also shows the extent of commuting between catchments, for example from Tuam, Loughrea and Gort labour catchments to Galway city.

County Leitrim

Apart from the county town labour catchment of Carrick-on-Shannon, there is just one smaller catchment located within Co. Leitrim, namely Manorhamilton. The number of resident workers in the Manorhamilton labour catchment increased over the ten year period and there is data to show more people are now working in Manorhamilton . The influence of some key employers is evident. Data on dross border commuting is also presented.

County Mayo

There are 8 smaller catchments located within Co. Mayo. Just two of the eight recorded a decline in the numbers of resident workers between the period of 2006 and 2016, these were Belmullet and the Charlestown/Knock Airport catchment. The other 6 recorded increases of varying degrees from 31% increase in the Westport labour catchment to an increase of 2.4% for the Ballina labour catchment. The most important places of work across each catchment are presented along with the labour market profiles of workers living there.

County Roscommon

There are 3 smaller catchments located within Co. Roscommon. All 3 recorded a decline in the numbers of workers resident there. In the case of Boyle and Ballaghaderreen, the geographic size of the labour catchments also decreased slightly. The data presented show the sectors in which people worked, the extent to which people worked inside the town and those who worked outside the town but within the wider catchment and the changes over the 10 years. Across all catchments there is a very significant increase in the level of third level education among the workforce.

 

Deirdre Frost

Travel to Work Areas and Border Labour Catchments

The WDC will present analysis on Travel to Work Areas (TTWAS) and the smaller labour catchments located along the Border at a conference in Derry, organised by NERI on 1st May see here for more details.

This work is part of a larger piece of work examining the smaller labour catchments across the Western Region which in turn is part of the WDC programme of research on Travel to Work Areas and Labour Catchments which has been a key element of the WDC Policy Analysis work programme for the last 10 years.

The work on smaller labour catchments follows on from the WDC report published in 2018, Travel to Work and Labour Catchments in the Western Region, A Profile of Seven Town Labour Catchments (2018). This provides a detailed labour market profile of the principal towns in each of the seven counties of the Western Region, based on travel to work patterns, namely: Galway, Ennis, Sligo, Letterkenny, Castlebar, Roscommon and Carrick-on-Shannon and is available for download here. (14.2MB)

The map below illustrates all the labour catchments across the Western Region, arising from the analysis of Census 2016 data.

Map 1 Labour Catchments across the Western Region 2016

The analysis of smaller labour catchments reviews the remaining 26 complete labour catchments contained within the Western Region and the 26 reports will be published shortly. Here is a sneak preview of some findings and points of interest.

The 26 complete smaller labour catchments are distributed across each of the counties of the Western Region as the table below shows.

Table 1 The 26 smaller Labour Catchments in Western Region Counties, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The smaller labour catchments range in size from the largest, Ballina in Co. Mayo with 9,034 resident workers, to the smallest, Charlestown-Bellahy with 962 resident workers.

Each labour catchments has a greater number of workers living there compared to the figure reported in the Census for the town at its core, indicating a greater labour supply available than might otherwise be considered.

Of the 26 smaller labour catchments 15 reported an increase in numbers over the 10 year period from 2006 to 2016, while 11 of the smaller labour catchments reported a decline in numbers over the same period.

Generally, those that reported a decline are somewhat remote, for example five of those that reported a decline are located in Co. Donegal, namely, Ballybofey-Stranorlar, Buncrana, Killybegs, Bunbeg and Ballyshannon. Belmullet in west Mayo also recorded a decline in the number of resident workers living there over the 10 year period. A further four catchments in east Mayo/Roscommon reported a decline; namely Charlestown, Ballaghaderreen, Boyle and Castlerea, while Gort in co. Galway also had a decline in resident workers living there over the 10 year intercensal period.

In the case of the labour catchments in Co. Donegal, the larger labour catchments of Donegal town and Letterkenny, both recorded an increase over the period indicating move from the smaller more rural catchments in the county to the larger centres and this in part accounts for the changes.

For the centres in Mayo and Roscommon which reported a decline in numbers, some of this can be accounted for by growth in adjacent centres such as Castlebar and Carrick-on-Shannon but further analysis is needed to explain the changes in detail.

There is also some evidence of greater levels of longer distance commuting to Dublin and other locations, for example, the numbers travelling from the larger catchments of Galway city, Sligo and Ennis to work in Dublin has more than doubled over the 10 year period. This trend is likely to be evident for the smaller centres also.

However, it is also true that rural areas remain very important places of work. Across many of the 26 labour catchments the second most important place of work after the town itself is the rural parts of the county. Smaller centres and rural areas are very important employment centres and the analysis will show that this employment extends across sectors such as Education, health and Social Work, Manufacturing and Wholesale, Retail and Commerce.

Further detail will be available following the presentation at the NERI conference and will be posted here

 

Deirdre Frost

 

 

€1m fund to link Digital Hubs from Donegal to Kerry

Pictured in Ballinasloe, Mr. Tomás Ó Síocháin (CEO, Western Development Commission)     Pic. Micheal Dillon

 

 

  • Technology will transform rural Ireland into a smart, connected region over the next 10 years, with new jobs and a growing population
  • Western Development Commission to seek to develop global niche with multi-million 10 year investment as part of ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ strategy

Growing and developing the West of Ireland by investing in tech, connecting digital working hubs, and promoting the region’s unmatched quality of life, is at the heart of the Western Development Commission’s new five-year strategy ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’, which is launched today.

Under the strategy, almost €50 million in structured supports will be offered in investment and lending to companies and businesses, with a focus on innovative or tech businesses that are developing or have the potential to develop a global niche.

Speaking at the launch today in Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Sean Canney TD, also announced that €1m in Dormant Accounts Funding will be made available to create a network of Enterprise Hubs and Digital Spaces from Co Donegal to Co Kerry.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

The centres, powered by fibre broadband, support the growing trend towards remote working, community hubs, and offer a lifeline for early stage rural-based companies and entrepreneurs

The Western Development Commission’s ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ strategy will build on the growth of remote working and facilitate innovation within a globally competitive region that offers a quality of life that’s among the best in the world.

The strategy has three pillars; Regional Promotion, Regional Leadership and Sustainable Enterprise, with short-term, medium and long-term goals.

  • Regional Promotion will focus on the further development of the WDC’s jobs and lifestyle portal called lookwest.ie and engaging with communities in Clare, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal
  • Regional Leadership will see the continuation of WDC policy analysis, supporting the Creative Economy and the WDC’s role as co-ordinating agency for the Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) project, set out in Project Ireland 2040. The AEC covers the spine of Ireland’s western coast that includes the counties from Co Donegal to Co Kerry
  • Sustainable Enterprise will take a longer-term view, continuing to invest in new ideas and build on the success of the Western Investment Fund, the on-going promotion of Social Enterprise and over a ten year period working with higher education institutions, other agencies and departments to identify one or two sectors that will deliver a competitive advantage for the region at a global level.

Minister Canney revealed today that the WDC has grown, through investment and lending, the original state investment of £25m (€32m) in the Western Investment Fund to a current portfolio value of €72m. The organisation now has €48m of that fund available for investment and lending across a number of areas.

A key goal of the ‘Work Smarter, Live Better strategy’ will be to take a ’10-year view’ by investing the €48 million in the Western Region in early stage businesses, micro-loans for communities and significant investment in one or two key sectors – which can build a competitive advantage for the region.

The new €1m fund for Enterprise Hubs and Digital Spaces will help raise the profile of the hubs, the work they do and a build a single online point of access for public, private and community hubs along the Atlantic coast. The fund will also help Centre Managers to grow the business, learn from each other, offer clear routes to further supports and, in the longer term, build a pipeline of innovation in communities.

Commenting today, Minister Canney said: “I welcome the opportunity to launch the ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ strategy on behalf of the Western Development Commission. In particular, the establishment of the Atlantic Economic Corridor offers a significant opportunity for both the region and the WDC to grow and meet the needs of communities all along the Atlantic seaboard. I want to acknowledge the commitment and engagement of the Board and staff of the WDC in taking on this new role. This new strategy offers a clear opportunity to raise the profile of the work the WDC does for the west, in the west, and is to be welcomed.”

Chair of the WDC, Dr Deirdre Garvey, acknowledged the role played by those who engaged with the WDC in creating the ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ strategy. “This process has been very helpful in ensuring that the WDC continues to deliver for the Western Region, meeting the needs of key stakeholders, but ultimately the needs of those who live in the West, and seek to ensure that they can offer a future of equal, and greater opportunity for the next generation.”

Speaking at the launch, Western Development Commission CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin, said: “Regional development is a priority issue. In the context of significant technological change and the need to move to a low carbon economy, it’s vital that we ensure balanced development as we grow to 2040. This strategy acknowledges the work of the WDC team to date and sets out a clear ambition to position the region as global leaders in one or two key areas over the next 10 years.

“These projects are of vital national importance and the WDC welcomes the opportunity to play a key role in making these goals a reality. These goals can be achieved through continued collaboration with communities, as well as with State and industry in the Western Region. Work Smarter, Live Better aligns with the Government’s broader ambition as set out in Ireland 2040 and in particular the Atlantic Economic Corridor.”

Contact: For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact StoryLab: 071 930 0942 or the WDC at 094 986 1441

The ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ Strategy 2019-2024 is available at https://www.wdc.ie/about-us/wdc-strategy/

NOTES:

ABOUT THE WDC

The WDC is a State agency established under statute to foster and promote the economic and social development of the Western Region (Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare). The work of the Western Development Commission focuses on investment, lending, regional development and policy analysis. www.lookwest.ie offers an overview of business activity and life in the Western Region. . The WDC works collaboratively with other state, community and industry stakeholders to develop the region.

ABOUT BALLINASLOE ENTERPRISE CENTRE

The building, a former library, was refurbished by Galway County Council in 2015 at a cost of €5m. It has a size of 4,000 sq. ft. over two floors and offers high speed broadband as well as free car-parking. It is situated just five minutes from the M6 to Galway and Dublin.

Seven EU regions come together to address Simplified Procedures in Aquaculture

The “Improving policies to boost SME competitiveness and extraversion in EU coastal and rural areas where aquaculture is a driver of the regional economy (EXTRA-SMEs)” project is an Interreg Europe project which brings together 9 participating partners from 7 EU countries. The five-year project aims to improve the implementation of policy instruments addressed by the project partners, concerning the expansion of rural and coastal SMEs in wider markets for the promotion of the products, by promoting simpler and improved administrative processes and procedures and innovative production solutions.

The Western Development Commission, as the Irish partner in the project organised an interregional workshop on the 20th and 21st of March at the Glasshouse Hotel in Sligo. The topic of the workshop was “adopting simplified administrative procedures for aquaculture SMEs”.

The purpose of the workshop was to promote interregional learning and capacity building. With 40 stakeholders from seven EU countries participants gained insights and understanding of the different political priories and initiatives in the field across member states, identified common challenges and needs, and suggested inputs to action plans.

The workshop hosted presentations and discussions from Jan Feenstra, Mowi Ireland; Liam Carr, NUI Galway and Dave Jackson from the Marine Institute. Each presentation gave valuable insights into the Irish approach to aquaculture procedures and its impact of SME’s.

Speaking at the Workshop Ian Brannigan, Head of Regional Development at WDC said “The West of Ireland has long recognised the potential of its significant natural resources. This international approach to realising the potential of the aquaculture sector in enhancing simplified procedures is a testament to all the parties attending. The WDC is delighted to host this workshop in Sligo today”

Approximately 14,000 aquaculture businesses operate in the EU, from which over 90% are SMEs. These contribute significantly in the economic growth and employment rates of coastal and rural areas, providing 85,000 direct jobs. However, aquaculture SMEs are characterised by systematic, as well as systemic, weaknesses regarding competitiveness and exports (especially in reaching international markets). On top of that, EU aquaculture SMEs face international competition from world’s regions where industry is subject to lower regulatory requirements. Worldwide, aquaculture is growing rapidly and it is expected to overtake capture fishing. This strong trend presents a significant economic opportunity for aquaculture SMEs in the EU, presenting at the same time a challenge for increasing competiveness in an environmentally and economically sustainable way. Although the European Commission has rolled out a comprehensive framework of policy and tools to support the development of aquaculture, challenges for aquaculture SMEs, such as licensing, spatial planning, and finding support for innovation and extraversion, persist. It is thus a matter of regional policies to improve the competitiveness of SMEs. To this end, EXTRA-SMEs will support the project partners exchange experiences and implement targeted aquaculture policy actions to address the issues facing aquaculture SME’s.

Contact:

Karen Sweeney Regional Development Executive, WDC, 087-1477750 or 094 986 1441

Notes:

 Photo attached:

EXTRA SME Workshop on simplified procedures

Caption:   WDC & EU partners at workshop on simplified procedures in aquaculture (left to right, Karen Sweeney WDC, Marco Rolandi Liguria Region, Maregertia Marre’ Brunenghi Liguria Region, Christos Bouras University of Patras, Petri Muje University of Applied Sciences Lapland, Violetta Koutsogiannopoulou Region of Peleponnese, Konstantinos Tsekouras, University of Patras, Alessia Baldini and Chiara Lazzoni DLTM, Alexandru Lixandru and Andreea Brinzoi ADR-BI, Ian Brannigan WDC.

 

EXTRA SME EU project:

The project aims to improve the implementation of policy instruments addressed by the project partners, concerning the expansion of rural and coastal SMEs in wider markets for the promotion of their products, by promoting simpler and improved administrative processes and procedures, and innovative production solutions.

The project centres on the sharing of experiences, good practices and initiatives of SME competitiveness and extraversion with the objective of promoting innovative solutions. The project aims to enable the participating regions to reach their targets in terms of internationalisation and expansion in new markets by adopting simplified administrative and licensing practices, up-skilling public services’ staff and managing stakeholders’ conflicts of interest, so as to achieve a competitive and extravert outlook for the wider aquaculture sector. More information on the project can be found at www.interregeurope.eu/extra-smes/.

The Western Development Commission (WDC) is the statutory body promoting economic and social development in the Western Region (counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare).  Its strategic goals are:

  • To inform policy-making on economic and social development in the Western Region through high quality analysis.
  • To promote the benefits of living, working and doing business in the Western Region.
  • To encourage the development of the rural economy based on the sustainable development of the Western Region’s strengths and resources.
  • To provide risk capital to micro, small and medium sized and social enterprises in their start-up and expansion phases through the WDC Investment Fund (WIF).

www.wdc.ie

Five EU regions come together to create an international business mentoring solution for local West of Ireland SME’s

 

Minna Järvinen, Corporate Communications Officer at Finnish Business mentors, was in Galway to share the expertise of supporting over 1,400 clients in 2018, to access mentoring services in her native Finland with attendees from the West of Ireland and beyond.  Minna was speaking as part of the launch events for the Bizmentors EU funded initiative launched by the Western Development Commission (WDC) and SCCUL enterprises in the historic Aula Maxima in NUIG.

In 2018 the WDC and SCCUL were successfully awarded EU funding to develop and pilot an SME mentoring support project with partners from Finland, Iceland, and Northern Ireland. The project is a three-year (2018-2021), transnational project co-funded by the EU Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA)[1] with a total budget in the region of €1.3m. It is aimed at supporting SME growth in the NPA region through accessible, open access, tailored mentoring for businesses. “For the WDC it is intended that the EU Bizmentors project will result in a novel capability to provide Trans-national, bespoke, mentoring to allow our SMEs to both survive and indeed thrive”  said Ian Brannigan , Head of Regional Development at the WDC.

[1] For more details on the NPA, see www.interreg-npa.eu

 

Annette Hassett, Bizmentors Programme Manager for SCCUL Enterprises CLG, stated:
This is an exciting step for Bizmentors from humble beginnings based on the East Side of Galway City with a focus on the Galway area to this collaboration across 5 EU regions providing trans-national business mentoring solutions”.

The development of such a transnational offering to local SME’s is the main deliverable. Such a model compliment’s existing national mentoring models and is intended to facilitate mentoring for even the most peripheral SME’s in the region

The BizMentors model, developed by SCCUL, has been proven to support individuals and businesses in a community setting in Galway since 2012. It relies on the local support of established business people to provide free guidance to those seeking it in a structured and low cost way. To test the new model, the partnership will focus on the Agri-Food sector. Having identified 587 existing businesses in the partner regions initially, the project will support end users to take advantage of the unique natural capital, innovation capacity and markets that remains untapped in the region. The mentoring model developed will be piloted in each region participating in the project

The project in the West of Ireland is implemented by the Western Development Commission and SCCUL enterprise CLG.

Contact:

Ian Brannigan Head of Regional Development, WDC, 086 6048012 or 094 986 1441

 

Notes:

Photo attached:

Bizmentors EU Project launch

    1. Caption: Irish Delegates at Bizmentors EU launch ( L to R; Tomás Ó’ SÍocháin WDC , Annette Hassett SCCUL,  Ian Brannigan WDC, Michael Smyth SCCUL)
      Photo Credit:  Andrew Downes

 

Bizmentors EU project:

The Bizmentors (BM) is a three-year (2018-2021), transnational project co-funded by the EU Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA)[1] with a total budget in the region of €1.3m. It is aimed at supporting SME growth in the NPA region through accessible, open access, tailored mentoring for businesses. The development of such a transnational model is the BM project main deliverable. Such a model is complimentary to existing national mentoring models and is intended to facilitate mentoring for even the most peripheral SME’s in the region…

Bizmentors will be operated by six partner organisations across four European regions:

  1. Western Development Commission (WDC), Ireland
  2. SCCUL enterprise, Ireland
  3. Savonia University of Applied sciences, Finland
  4. Northeast Iceland Development Agency
  5. Arctic Iceland, IACN
  6. Fermanagh and Omagh district council Northern Ireland

The Western Development Commission (WDC) is the statutory body promoting economic and social development in the Western Region (counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare).  Its strategic goals are:

  • To inform policy-making on economic and social development in the Western Region through high quality analysis.
  • To promote the benefits of living, working and doing business in the Western Region.
  • To encourage the development of the rural economy based on the sustainable development of the Western Region’s strengths and resources.
  • To provide risk capital to micro, small and medium sized and social enterprises in their start-up and expansion phases through the WDC Investment Fund (WIF).

 

[1] For more details on the NPA, see www.interreg-npa.eu