How targeted investment by the Western Development Commission at a crucial stage has made a meaningful difference in the west of Ireland.

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has invested €57m in 189 businesses and community projects in seven western counties, latest figures show.

The WDC Investment Fund approved investments of almost €7m across the region in 2019 alone, supporting 44 entities in Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare.

“The €57m we have invested in 189 companies has resulted in another quarter of a billion euros being leveraged for our portfolio companies”

The impact of the fund is underlined by the fact that over 5,000 people are now directly or indirectly employed by the 189 companies assisted to date, according to Gillian Buckley investment manager with the agency. These companies have created a significant boost to the economy of the region with total payroll costs for those who received loans or equity from the WDC, now estimated at €63m annually. Out of that, €18m goes back to the Exchequer in taxes.

Many of the companies have a global reach and it is estimated that 73pc of the turnover of WDC-supported companies is export-related. Buckley pointed out that the fund has been self-financing from an investment perspective since 2010, with returns and exits from investments made constantly being re-invested in new enterprises under Fund’s the evergreen strategy.

Gillian Buckley, Investment Manager, Western Development Commission.

Among the companies that have invested heavily in R&D and that have expanded their workforce as a result of WDC support is Co Galway sports technology company Contego Sports which has developed N-Pro, protective headgear. N-Pro was recently selected as the first participant in a trial by World Rugby aimed at reducing the risk of head injuries and concussion. N-Pro CEO Mark Ganly founded the company  in 2014.

Among those who have donned the N-Pro protective helmets are rugby hero Nemani Napoli who plays with Montpelier and who wore the product in the recent Championship Cup. Closer to home Connacht’s Ultan Dillane has also sported the headgear.

“We hope to see a significant number of players wearing the product in the Six Nations this year”, said Ganly who has also been targeting other sports where head protection is vital.

Design for life

Fintech company Cerebreon, based in Ardara in Co Donegal, has also benefited from WDC investment and hopes to grow its workforce this year.

The company uses machine intelligence and algorithms to spot likely insolvency failures in advance, and take corrective action.

“We predict and try to prevent defaults from insolvency arrangements” explained CEO Gillian Doyle.

Cerebreon employs 10 people, six in Donegal , three in the UK and one in Dublin and expects to increase its workforce in 2020.

“All the intellectual property and core development is done in Donegal. The broadband is superb,” said Doyle.

She said staff have been making quality of life decisions to return to Donegal where proximity to families, short commutes and community support, aligned to job satisfaction make it an attractive proposition.

The Western Investment Fund was set to address a gap in support available for start-ups and established companies in the western region. Beneficiaries include a wide range of hi-tech operations including fintech, medical devices and artifice intelligence,  as well as traditional sectors such as food and tourism.

The almost 190 companies who have received WDC investment spend €24m annually on R&D.

While job creation and the expansion of overseas markets are considered key outcomes of WDC investment, there is also a strong focus on enhancing the lives of those living in the region. The investment fund supports a range of social enterprises and community-based initiatives in the seven counties in its remit.

These range from childcare facilities to sports and recreation amenities and enterprise space projects.

Another sector which is targeted for support is the creative sector and the WDC operates a micro-loan fund for those making a living in arts and crafts, publishers, graphic artists and web designers.

Those working in film, television, animation and games sector can avail of strategic investment under the WRAP (Western Region Audio-Visual Producers ) Fund , a collaboration involving both the WDC and the Galway Film Centre which has been running since 2018. These investment funds have helped copperfasten the west and the north west as attractive locations for those making a living in the creative sector.

Companies frequently use the WDC support to leverage further investment from both the private and public sector. “The €57m we have invested in 189 companies has resulted in another quarter of a billion euros being leveraged for our portfolio companies,” explained Buckley.

Support from the WDC has coincided with major expansion for a number of key players in the high tech sector in the region.

Global software company Cora Systems which is headquartered in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, had a staff of just five when it was first approved for investment by the WDC 15 years ago. Now it has a workforce of 80 people.

Galway-based Altocloud had a workforce of just six when the WDC first approved it for investment in 2015. Since being acquired by Genesys in 2018, a Silicon Valley based multinational, Galway has been designated the company’s global Centre of Excellence for Customer Experience AI with the workforce projected to grow to 200 over the next couple of years.

“The success of the WDC Investment fund shows that targeted investment at a crucial stage can make a real difference,” commented Gillian Buckley.

Written by Marese McDonagh

Published 26 February 2020

The Business of Literature – €1.9 million Fund Set to Unlock the Potential of Literary Tourism sector

  • Three-year literary tourism pilot programme launches across four Northern European countries this Autumn
  • €80K Fund Available to Support Literary Tourism Enterprises in Ireland
  • Organisations and businesses encouraged to sign up to November workshops.

The untapped potential of literary tourism is the focus of Spot-lit, a new three-year project spearheaded by the Western Development Commission in Ireland, that aims to grow the literary tourism sector in the Northern Periphery and Arctic region. The new programme will support 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. In Ireland, this would include literary rich locations such as Sligo, synonymous with the poet WB Yeats, Seamus Heaney and Bellaghy in Derry, Cuirt International Festival of Literature in Galway, Doolin Writers’ Weekend in Clare.
Funded by Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme 2014-2020, the regions participating in the Spot-lit programme area are the West of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Eastern Finland and South-West Scotland. 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.

In November, Spot-lit Partner, the Western Development Commission will deliver a series of workshops for businesses interested in Literary Tourism product development:

  • Building successful Literary Tourism experiences for visitors
  • Designing and developing your Literary Tourism product or service
  • Knowing and growing your market

Visit Spot-lit.eu to find out more.

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 and support 5 businesses and will include €10,000 business development support. The focus of the business idea/product will be for the development of Literary Tourism through literature, place and performance.

In tandem with the Literary Business Support Programme, a new Literary Tourism Model will be developed and will include a €25,000 business support – the model will be developed by identifying a programme of potential performances linked to the Wild Atlantic
Way and its literary assets.

Speaking on the launch of the SME Businesses Support Programme, CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin of the Western Development Commission said:
‘The west has a fantastic story to tell; an area of arresting physical beauty, centres of innovation and economic growth, however Spot-Lit is an opportunity to focus on some of the stories as yet untold. I would urge communities, groups and SMEs to engage with the Literary Business Support Programme, one aspect of the work of the WDC in supporting the Creative Economy.’

The project launched on September 25th with a new website at www.spot-lit.eu, dedicated social media channels @spot_lit_eu. The NPAP region in Ireland includes all coastal counties from Donegal to Cork. Literary businesses and organisations in these counties are encouraged to register their interest for upcoming events and workshops.
The project will run until September 2021.

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.

wrap fund galway

Film projects granted investment to generate more than €4m spend across the West of Ireland

A €2m regional fund set up to encourage the film, television drama, animation and gaming sectors in the West of Ireland is today announcing the projects which have received offers of support since it was announced at the end of 2017.

The Western Region Audiovisual Producer’s Fund — or WRAP Fund — is a unique initiative of the Western Development Commission (WDC) and the Galway Film Centre and was set up to stimulate the industry in the western region.

Its aim is to support local talent and increase the economic impact of the industry in the region. Run in association with the local authorities of Clare, Donegal, Galway City, Galway County, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo as well as Údarás na Gaeltachta, WRAP will ensure investment in the sector until 2020.

The WRAP Fund is also the only funding project in the Republic of Ireland which is open to the games sector. The deadline for applications for funding in the games sector was March 8, 2019 and an announcement of the games funded will follow once they are selected.

As part of its production investment, WRAP has supported five projects to date including three feature films, one animated feature and one documentary which will undertake production across the West, creating opportunities for local talent.

It is anticipated that the projects backed by WRAP funding so far will generate in excess of €4m spend in the region generating a significant return of investment of 8:1.

wrap fund

Behind the scenes on ‘The Winter Lake’

The newly-announced projects are:

  • Death of A Ladies Man, by Cohen Productions DAC/Port Pictures, which will start shooting across Galway in late May
  • Ooops! Back In The Deep End, an animated feature by Moetion Films which is in production in Galway City
  • Screamers, a documentary by Dot Television and Marcie Films, which is in pre-production and will be shot across Donegal and Sligo.
  • The Winter Lake, by Winter Lake Productions/Tailored Films, which has just completed production in Sligo.

These projects are in addition to the previously-announced Calm With Horses, which was shot in Clare and across Galway city and county and is currently in post-production.

In addition to its production investment, WRAP is announcing the recipients of the first round of development investment to assist local producers to develop projects that can undertake production within the region. This was as a result of a call out with a deadline of October 2018. Companies based in Clare, Donegal, Galway and Mayo have received support. These are:

  • To Hell Or Hibernia: a feature film developed by Mayo production company Hardy Films and written by Mike Cockayne (Mayo) and Vincent Cleghorne
  • Trace: a feature film developed by Galway production company Magamedia and written by Ray Lawlor (Mayo)
  • St. John: a television series developed by Galway production company Danú Media and Dearg Films and written by Brian Reddin
  • Weekend: a television series developed by Donegal production company Slipway Films and New Decade TV and written by Tara Hegarty (Donegal)
  • The Wee Littles: an animated television series developed by Clare animation studio Magpie6 Media, created by Cliff Parrott (Clare) and Christina O’Shea (Clare) and written/directed by Emma Hogan (Clare)

Sarah Dillon, Development Manager of the WRAP Fund, said:

“We are delighted to be announcing the projects in receipt of investment and it is exciting to see the caliber of applications we are receiving. This is reflective of the general standard over the last few years in Irish film, television and animation with Irish talent making its mark on a global stage at the world’s leading film festivals. WRAP is delighted to give a platform to local talent telling stories. WRAP is focused on continuing to drive the success and growth of the screen industries in the West through targeted strategic support with the backing of our stakeholders.”

Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of Western Development Commission, said:

Developing the audio visual sector as part of the Creative Economy is a key goal of the recently published 5 year strategy for the WDC. As the lead agency for the Creative Economy under the Government’s West Regional Enterprise Plan, we already see the benefits a dedicated fund such as the WRAP fund can bring to a region: high-caliber projects adding €4m extra spend to the local economy together with invaluable training and experience for local talent interested in working in this industry.”

Alan Duggan, Manager of Galway Film Centre, said:

“The WRAP Fund is a game-changing initiative for the region in terms of the opportunities it provides to talent across film, TV, animation and games. It also represents a unique collaboration between the eight local authorities, Galway Film Centre and the WDC, each with the foresight to support the Audiovisual Sector at a time of unprecedented opportunity for the region.”

More via wrapfund.ie

 

wdc strategy

Western Development Commission’s new five-year strategy ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ launched in Galway

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.”

wdc strategy

More on the ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ Strategy 2019-2024  at https://www.wdc.ie/about-us/wdc-strategy/

 

grow remote conference

Grow Remote Conference in Sligo meets Ireland’s first Smart Community

Ireland’s first Smart Community, Tubbercurry & South Sligo, is delighted to welcome the Grow Remote conference to Tubbercurry on Tuesday 16th of April 2019. This one-day conference features speakers from across Europe and American and aims to discuss the opportunities that exist for remote working in Ireland and the benefits it can bring to employees, employers and local communities.

Joann Hosey, Chair of Smart Community Tubbercurry said, “Our ambition is to bring remote workers together and to create a new community of people with common interests and purpose, a community that will help the economic prosperity of our town, a community that will help Tubbercurry to thrive”.

The conference will play host to remote workers, international employers and local town groups who each have an interest in remote working.

grow remote conference

Galway-based remote worker Daniel Fahy

The conference will have over 15 speakers who will share their latest thinking on the technology, management supports and opportunities that exist for remote working. It will also showcase community case studies and will transform two buildings in the main street to show how remote working can have an impact locally. Currently, it is estimated that over 216,000 people work remotely in Ireland.

The emergence and activation of new community spaces across Ireland is a key motivator for this event as communities begin to provide the infrastructure needed in the regions to make remote work possible. Regions of collaborative ecosystems and clusters, offering global value, skills, and quality of life are the regions that will succeed. An effective Smart Working model is an important element of this vision and success.

This year’s conference will see speakers who are professionals in the remote working community such as:

  • Angela Piper of Scrapinghub, a technology company that turns web content into useful data for your business. Scrapinghub is a 100% remote working company with people in every corner of the world.
  • Paul Savage, the Chief Operating officer at NearForm. NearForm is a technology company that sources talent from all over the world. They hire without borders, casting the net far and wide to attract the finest to their industry.
  • Laurel Farrer is a distributed operations consultant. Laurel collaborates with the world’s top remote friendly companies.
  • Lorcan Roche Kelly, who works remotely from his farm in Co. Clare as editor on Bloomberg markets.
  • Marcus Wermuth, the mobile lead at Buffer, based in Munich Germany. Buffer makes it easy for businesses and marketing teams to schedule social media posts, analyze performance, and manage all their accounts in one place. Buffer is a fully remote team spread across the World.
  • Rachel Craig is a remote worker based in Barcelona. She previously worked remotely from Inishowen in Co Donegal. Rachel is a search engine optimisation consultant with Canirank.com.
  • Ryan Mesches is a well experienced remote worker. He is currently working for Teamwork.com and is in the process of building his own remote working team.
  • Tammy Bjelland is the founder and CEO of Workplaceless, a company which provides training to workers, leaders, and organisations on working remotely.

“I am really looking forward to speaking at GrowRemote and show local communities the impact Remote Work can have. I’ve seen it at Buffer what good it can do and what it means to hire people all around the world. Remote Work is the future!” Marcus Wermuth, mobile lead Buffer.

“We, at Shopify, are delighted to share our work from home story with others at the Grow Remote event on April 16th. In less than 4 years, we have built a team of over 300 fully remote workers in Ireland, spread across all 26 counties. Remote and work-from-home initiatives are the best way for Ireland to address the combined needs of breathing life into rural Ireland and enabling people to live where they want to live.” John Riordan, director of support at Shopify.

Tracy Keogh founder of Grow Remote said, “Grow Remote is a group of community developers who want to use remote work as a way to enable our communities to thrive as remote work can be a great equaliser for communities. For us, Tubbercurry was the perfect location, they have an award-winning community team, a vibrant community, and even the world’s fastest running kid! When your career isn’t tied to one location, it’s the assets Sligo, and Tubbercurry have, that make a place worth living in”.

The event is supported by Sligo County Council, Western Development Commission, Bank of Ireland, Blacknight, ICBE, Smart Community Tubbercurry & South Sligo and An Chroi South Sligo Enterprise Centre. Tickets start at €40. More details at www.growremote.ie

LookWest.ie is delighted to support Grow Remote; we will be live streaming talks and interviews from the event on Tuesday 16th of April 2019. Watch our social media channels for more.

fishing nets

WDC to spearhead major initiative to tackle marine waste on west coast

Turning discarded fishing nets and other marine plastic waste into household products, is one the aims of the NPAP Blue Circular Economy project (www.bluecirculareconomy.eu), which was launched this week by the Western Development Commission, who is one of the key BCE partners.

This follows the vote by the European Parliament to ban the use of single-use plastic items such as straws, forks, knives on Wednesday of this week.  This directive will require “proper waste management infrastructure and sufficient recycling facilities to achieve the objectives of this directive,” according to Euro Commerce Director-General Christian Verschueren.

Blue Circular Economy is funded by the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme and aims to help Small and Medium-Sized enterprises (SMEs) offering products and services, within fishing gear recycling solutions, to attain a great market reach.

The three-year programme, with partners in Ireland, UK, Denmark and Norway, will promote and support companies to create sustainable industries in the recovery and recycling of used fishing nets into commercial products.  It will achieve this through stimulating demand for FNRCs (Fishing Nets Ropes and Components) products and through the support & creation of sustainable business models for SMEs in the NPA-region.

Commenting on the programme Clodagh Barry, Regional Development, WDC said “Currently there is low-level of recycling of used and discarded fishing nets and other marine plastics.  Through the Blue Circular Ocean project the WDC will create the structures and awareness of the commercial opportunities to turn this waste hazard into products.  Through the lifetime of this project we will form clusters with business groups, sectoral and public authorities and are also calling on interest groups and the general public to become involved. In addition, the concept of Innovation lab will be road tested in Galway in Ireland and Alesund in Norway.

The Blue Circular Economy programme will include conferences and information sessions, research with universities and the development of an eco-brand to support the development of businesses in recycling of used fishing gear and those products from waste nets and components.  A series of webinars will take place over coming months to inform SMEs in the NPA Region of the commercial opportunities through the programme.

Interested parties should email: info@bluecirculareconomy.eu or follow Twitter https://twitter.com/bluecircular  #bluecirculareconomy

 

45,700 people work in Industry in Western Region

Western Region home to 45.7% of Irish MedTech jobs

  • 53% of Western Region’s total Industry employment is in MedTech, Chemicals & Pharma and Agri-food
  • 55% of Industry jobs in foreign owned firms
  • Western Region home to both highest and lowest share working in Industry in Ireland – Ballyhaunis (41.9%) and Bundoran (3.5%)

 The Western Development Commission (WDC) has published a new report analysing employment data for Industry in the Western Region.  Industry includes mining, utilities and waste management but by far the largest element is manufacturing.

In 1996, Industry accounted for 21% of total employment in the Western Region.  As the population grew and the region’s economic structure changed, Industry’s relative position declined.  By 2016, 13.7% of all employment in the region was in Industry.

It is still however the region’s largest employment sector and is more important here than nationally (11.4%).   The actual numbers working in Industry declined from 47,319 in 1996 to 45,754 two decades later.

The MedTech sector is by far the largest industrial activity in the Western Region. It accounts for 27.7% of the region’s total industrial employment, more than double the national average of 12.1%.  In fact the Western Region is home to 45.7% of all MedTech jobs in Ireland.

The region’s second largest industrial activity is Chemicals & Pharma at 14.1%.  Pharmaceuticals is the largest element which, together with MedTech, shows the region’s strength in Life Sciences.

While Agri-food is the third largest, its share in the region (11.2%) is considerably smaller than nationally (17.1%). This is partly due to the strong concentration of Agri-food in the other regions e.g. South East, as well as the nature of farming in the region.

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

‘The relative importance of Industry differs across the region.  For Galway and Clare, it is the largest employment sector, while for Donegal it is only fourth.  The counties’ industrial profiles also differ. 

MedTech dominates in Galway City and County, which have the highest shares working in this sector in Ireland.  It is also the largest industrial employer for Leitrim.  For Sligo and Mayo, Chemicals & Pharma is largest with Sligo having the second highest share nationally.  Agri-food is the main industrial employer for Donegal and Roscommon, while in Clare it is Computer & Electronic equipment. Clare has the second highest share in this industrial activity in the country. ’ 

At 41.9% of total employment, Ballyhaunis has the highest share of residents working in Industry among Ireland’s 200 towns and cities (1,500+ population).  Shannon (31.9%) and Tuam (25%) are also in the top 10 nationally.  The Western Region however is also home to the Irish town with the lowest share working in Industry, Bundoran (3.5%).

Total Industry employment in the Western Region increased by 13.7% between 2011 and 2016, greater than nationally (+9.4%).  Transport Equipment (+52.7%), MedTech (+30.2%) and Computer & Electronic (+21.2%) grew most strongly.  Automotive supplier Valeo in Tuam, growth in many MedTech multinationals as well as electronics manufacturing around Shannon contributed to this pattern.

The Western Region’s industrial base is characterised by higher levels of foreign ownership.  In 2017, 55.1% of all jobs in industrial firms in the region (that received assistance from IDA, EI or Udarás) were in foreign owned companies.  This contrasted with 45.3% nationally.  Foreign owned companies’ share increased during the early years of the recession and the recovery further reinforced their position.

According to Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the WDC:

‘Industry plays a greater role in the Western Region’s labour market than nationally.  As policy increasingly focuses on services, it is vital that the importance of manufacturing continues to be recognised and the sector supported. High-tech manufacturing is very strong in the region however, automation poses a threat to some jobs in this, as well as in more traditional sectors.  Upskilling for the industrial workforce, to adapt to changing skill needs, and greater industrial diversification should be key priorities for the region.’ 

Download ‘Industry in the Western Region: Regional Sectoral Profile’ and summary documents from https://www.wdc.ie/publications

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact Pauline White, Policy Analyst, WDC on +353 86 832 8055

 

wdc

Western Development Commission Welcomes Funding For Digiwest Working Hubs In Donegal, Sligo, Roscommon and Mayo

The WDC will lead the project working in association with the local authorities in Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon and Donegal

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has welcomed the announcement by Minister for Community and Rural Development, Michael Ring, TD of funding of €644,734 for the Digiwest regional economic development project to develop digital working hubs in Stranorlar, Co. Donegal, Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo, Tulsk, Co. Roscommon and Swinford, Co. Mayo.

The funding is part of €62m in funding for Rural Regeneration and Development projects across the country, and aligns with the on-going work along the Atlantic Economic Corridor, as set out in the National Planning Framework. The Atlantic Economic Corridor seeks to develop the Atlantic Coast counties from Donegal to Kerry to ensure balanced regional development in Ireland to 2040.

WDC CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin said, ‘the Digiwest project is an excellent example of regional collaboration as set out in our forthcoming strategic plan where four local authorities, working with the Western Development Commission will be enabling and supporting communities to work in the digital economy. The collaboration will offer facilities and services that will meet both community and business needs, to maintain and develop vibrant communities in the Western Region.’

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

Note for editors:

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
    • €51m invested in growth since 1999
    • 5,000 jobs supported in 155 projects since 1999
    • Policy analysis
    • Output in 2018; 10 reports | 9 submissions | 7 insights
    • EU project work
    • €13.5m in ongoing EU project funding

 

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

wdc

Western Development Commission Publishes Draft Strategy

The WDC has published a draft of its 5 year strategy to seek input from stakeholders and the public

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has published a draft of the organisation’s strategy for the coming five years. The WDC is a state agency established under statute to promote the Western Region, (Donegal to Clare) to analyse and advise on policy and to support, through investment and lending, enterprise in the region. The strategy is available to view and download here; https://www.wdc.ie/about-us/wdc-strategy/

For the past number of months the staff and board of the WDC have been preparing a new strategy for the period 2019 to 2024. This process has involved a detailed consultation with a group of stakeholders, involving one-to-one and group interviews. These have been externally facilitated and resulted in a report being provided to the board. There was also an online survey that was sent to larger group of stakeholders.

WDC CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin said, ‘this is an important step in the evolution and renewal of the Western Development Commission. Twenty years after its establishment, the organisation has considered the changed and changing environment, and formulated strategic aims accordingly. These primary driver remains fostering the social and economic development in the Western Region, but the strategy enables the WDC to do so in a way that best meets the dynamic needs of the region.’

Those participating in both these consultations were provided with a detailed consultation document that you can read here. Building on the external consultation, both the Board and staff of the WDC considered the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to both the Western Region and the WDC itself. Based on these, they identified three strategy themes for the organisation, with key projects identified under each theme:

  • Regional Promotion
  • Regional Leadership
  • Sustainable Enterprise

 Have your say

A summary draft of the new strategy is available here. The WDC welcomes comments on the strategy, including the proposed new vision, strategy themes and proposed projects areas from all interested parties. Comments received will inform the final version of the strategy that will be submitted to the Department of Community and Rural Development for approval.

Please email comments by 14th February to strategy@wdc.ie

Further information contact: Claire Normanly, WDC 094 9861441 |info@wdc.ie

Note for editors:

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
    • €51m invested in growth since 1999
    • 5,000 jobs supported in 155 projects since 1999
    • Policy analysis
    • Output in 2018; 10 reports | 9 submissions | 7 insights
    • EU project work
    • €13.5m in ongoing EU project funding

Read more about the work of the Western Development Commission at www.wdc.ie