The WDC has been involved in the development of The Xchange over the past 54 years. In November 2014 some of the country’s most successful Business leaders met and agreed to make themselves available to work with early stage SMEs who wanted to expand and grow their nascent Businesses. This type of expert support addressed an identified critical need for businesses striving to grow but often unsure of how to match passion and endeavour with the practical steps forward to succeed. This meeting of Business leaders and emerging SME‟s became known as The Xchange. An informal yet focused business support event that has grown from strength to strength in the intervening years.
This concept came wholly from the Business leaders themselves and was driven by a spirit of altruism and a deep desire to make a difference in the communities in which they lived or identified with. Initially the idea was put forward by leaders such as Fergal Broder (LotusWorks) & George Mullen (SIS). The Xchange had a simple aim, the need to help and assist the next generation of emerging business leaders. The Western Development Commission (WDC), with its tradition of both direct and strategic support for businesses in the region partnered and supported The Xchange from the beginning along with other enterprise development agencies partners.
While the support offered through the Xchange is often referred to as akin to mentoring, its benefits are more wide-ranging, due to the bespoke nature of the advice on offer – which centres on identifying and developing individual business growth opportunities.
The Xchange, a 24 – hour residential “business development accelerator” experience has run successfully for four years. Offering a mutually beneficial blend of one-to-one sessions with seasoned entrepreneurs, as well as networking and short learning sessions, participants in this unique business development mechanism draw benefit from its intensified, needs-driven format.
Since its inception in 2014, over 85 businesses and more than 60 business leaders have participated in the events.
The largest business networking event in the West of Ireland brings a wide range of companies from the West of Ireland and further afield together to network and do business. MeetWest offers participating companies a full day of tailored one-to-one networking meetings complimented by a conference and a networking dinner.
The event offers delegates an invaluable opportunity to meet and connect with other businesses. Organised in partnership with the local authorities, local enterprise offices and state development agencies in Roscommon, Mayo and Galway, MeetWest brings together a wide range of companies from the West of Ireland and further afield to network and do business in a variety of formats
Meet West is an opportunity for businesses throughout the west to showcase their services and network with potential business partners.
A key objective of this event is to highlight the range of companies that are operating successfully in the region and create a momentum for further economic growth and recognise the potential synergies between businesses operating in the West and how business can support one another.
The experiences of those who participated over the past five years highlight the benefits that this type of structured networking offers business.
European Entrepreneurial Region
The European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) is a project run by the Committee of the Regions, which is one of the 7 pillar institutions of the European Union. The Committee of the Regions identifies and awards an EU region which shows an outstanding and innovative approach to Entrepreneurial supports and activities, irrespective of its size or wealth.
In September 2017 the Western Region of Ireland was awarded the accolade European Entrepreneurial Region 2018.The prestigious accolade is attributed to our innovative, resourceful and vibrant Entrepreneurs. This is further strengthened with the support Enterprise Ireland, Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Offices, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Westbic, WDC, NWRA, ERNACT and indeed all the agencies within our region who help promote entrepreneurship.
Our region is one of the most vibrant and creative places in the world. From family-run enterprises to innovative new technologies, entrepreneurship underpins the success of our communities and resilience of our people. Our aim in applying for this EER award was to recognise this.
The Western region is home to the European Capital of Culture 2020, Best Micro City in Europe, Coolest Place on the Planet and Best Place to Live in Ireland. All of which helped secure the Title of EER 2018.
In line with the EU Innovation Union measure, the WDC has prioritised a Smart Regional initiative to discuss our smart regional approach. This project titled ‘Smart Places’ is championed by three partner organisations – ourselves, The Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA), and The Insight Centre for Data Analytics, NUI Galway.
The Smart Places Programme is set in the context of 9 Irish counties, with a total population of one million people, with an initial objective of publishing a Smart Regional Readiness in early 2018. This initiative will provide a strategic framework and roadmap, to prepare the region for its smart future & align with European regional policy.
Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC)
The Government published the National Planning Framework and National Development Plan in February 2018, collectively forming Project Ireland 2040, which provides a framework for the economic, social and cultural development of our country to 2040, and a clear programme of capital investment to 2027. A key objective of Project Ireland 2040 is to enable all parts of the country – both urban and rural – to achieve their full potential. The Western Development Commission has supported the work of the Atlantic Economic Corridor.