The European Union will tomorrow (WEDNESDAY) name Ireland’s Northern and Western region as European Entrepreneurial Region 2018, recognising the ‘enormous strides’ the region has taken to foster entrepreneurship and reverse decades of decline.
The award, to be made a ceremony in Brussels, is a huge boost for a region, the EU’s Committee of the Regions said, that has developed policies that are transforming the area ‘from adversity to advantage’, making it one of the most resilient and ambitious places in Europe.
The European Entrepreneurial Region 2018 designation will be marked with a series of keynote events and initiatives all through next year to support and build on existing and new job creation projects and innovation across the Northern and Western region.
The award comes at a crucial time for the region as looks for ways to insulate itself from the unpredictable impacts of Brexit and offer an alternative economic focal point to Dublin and the east coast.
Commenting, Mr. Marc Kiwitt of the Committee of the Regions, the EU’s assembly of Regional and Local Representatives, said: “The European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) is a project that identifies and rewards EU regions and cities which show an outstanding and innovative entrepreneurial policy strategy, irrespective of their size, wealth and competences. The Northern and Western Region must be congratulated on the successful achievement for 2018.”
In 2015, Northern Ireland was named European Entrepreneurial region. Other previous winners have included cities such as Glasgow, Barcelona and Lisbon. All have used the year to establish successful programmes and schemes to encourage innovation and job creation.
David Minton, director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) today accepted the award on behalf of the NWRA region which comprises seven counties; they are Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Sligo, Roscommon, Leitrim and Cavan.
He said: “This is an amazing honour and an opportunity for a part of Ireland that has been traditionally marginalised to emerge stronger and more attractive as a place to live and work for our young people, a viable alternative to living on the hugely overburdened east coast.
“The past eight years has seen regional and national policy invest in innovation; invest in people; and invest in education. Eight years ago, employment levels in the construction industry were decimated due to economic stagnation. Out of this stagnation has emerged a commitment not to repeat the mistakes of the past’. In committing to resilience and investing in sustainability, this region has become truly entrepreneurial.”
Ian Brannigan, CEO, WDC said this spirit of entrepreneurship was driven by the efforts of a collaborative alliance to nurture regional entrepreneurship. This included unique offerings like the WDC western investment fund ( which has supported 2700 jobs ), innovative regional promotion platforms (www.lookwest.ie), a regional focus and a network of collaborative Local Enterprise Offices supporting over 45,000 businesses. The concept of ‘entrepreneurship as a career’ has also come from smart programmes such as Young Entrepreneur of the Year and New Frontiers, Enterprise Ireland’s national entrepreneur development programme for innovative, early-stage startups.
The Government has warmly welcomed the award. Commenting today, Minster for Community and Rural Affairs Michael Ring TD said: “For me this award is about recognizing the risk taker – from entrepreneurs, to small business owners and indigenous enterprises growing in scale. The Northern and Western region is now finally being recognised as one of the most vibrant, responsive and entrepreneurial places in Europe. Innovative and creative entrepreneurs across the region have led the way for young people, inspired a generation and now are operating at a global level; all from the west of Ireland. This is just one example reflected in every corner of this region.”
“2018 will be an incredible opportunity to celebrate entrepreneurship as a career – not just for some people but an opportunity for everyone. Ireland has produced some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and business people. They are in every sector and industry. This award is another opportunity to tell their story.”
For more information, contact Ciaran Byrne at StoryLab on 01 685 3029 or 086 173 9523.
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