NUI Galway unveils extensive development programme

NUI Galway has launched a new strategy which places the 175 year old institution as a central driver of transformational change for Galway and the West of Ireland.

The new strategy, titled “Shared Vision, Shaped by Values”, has been developed following extensive dialogue with students, academics, alumni, policymakers, and the wider community, marks a new approach for NUI Galway, and places the shared values of respect, excellence, openness and sustainability as the guiding light for the future direction of the University.


The strategy will see NUI Galway focus on its continued contribution to enhancing policy and society, enriching creativity, improving health and wellbeing, realising potential through data and enabling technologies, data science and sustaining our planet and people. With these strengths, NUI Galway will lead through its contribution to the region’s international reputation as a recognised centre of excellence for Medical Technologies, Data Science, Culture and Creativity, Climate and Oceans, and Public Policy.

President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “We are a university with no gates. Our location at the very edge of Europe gives us a unique perspective and an opportunity. Our regional footprint is the largest of any University in Ireland spanning the Atlantic seaboard. Galway is the most international city in Ireland. Our uniqueness means we can work in ways others cannot. At the edge, we look at the world from a different angle. Between sea and land, we see the horizon every day and, like all great explorers, all great adventurers, we wonder what’s on the other side. This places us in an international context and enhanced co-operation with other international institutions, from this place and for this purpose, will also therefore be a focus of our new strategy.

“For the public good, NUI Galway belongs to the people. In this strategy and in these times, we will use our location for the benefit of Ireland as an institution formed by values. Our research, our teaching and our engagement – with our students and our staff – has purpose, evoking also our sense of people and place, further contributing profoundly to the sustainability and development of culture, creative industries, data science, medical technologies, marine ecology and our economy. For example, given our geography at the intersection of Europe with the North Atlantic, the climate information we can gather is unique. The University will deliver subsequent climate research for the benefit of humanity. Beidh an Ghaeilge freisin i gcroílár straitéis agus structúir na hollscoile, luachmhar agus aitheanta mar luach dár gcomhluadar,” he added.

The strategy also outlines an ambitious development programme, titled “Building for the Future”, which will see NUI Galway leading the transformational change of Galway and the West of Ireland, with major social, economic and cultural impact for future generations.

550 Enterprise spaces mapped across the AEC

AEC Officers in the 10 Local Authorities throughout the AEC, are surveying available enterprise spaces in the major towns in each county. This initiative, under the guidance of the AEC Taskforce Enterprise Space Working Group, utilises a Collector App, and the AEC Available Enterprise Property Search Portal. Both the App and the Portal were developed by Mayo County Council and are being utilised by all the AEC Officers.

Over 35 towns have been surveyed and more that 550 enterprise spaces have been identified.  The enterprise spaces include offices, industrial warehouses, enterprise  buildings, and both greenfield and brownfield development and strategic sites. The data collected includes details of the property type, age, size, construction type, ownership/tenancy, services, fit-out standard, car parking, permitted use and the types of premises that are adjoining the property.

The AEC Property Portal, which is unique to the AEC, allows users to search by town, by county, by AEC region, by property type and by category. The search provides users with information that is vital to decision-making, to the re-purposing and development of vacant enterprise stock and to informing strategic town planning.

It is an invaluable resource for potential investors and entrepreneurs seeking to set up a new enterprise, growing an  existing business or relocating to the Atlantic Economic Corridor region.

County Number Towns
Donegal 27 Ballybofey, Stranorlar
Leitrim 8 Carrick on Shannon
Sligo 23 Ballisodare, Ballymote, Sligo town
Roscommon 16 Roscommon town,
Mayo 71 Ballina, Castlebar, Claremorris, Knock Airport, Westport
Galway City 41 Galway city
Galway County 36 Athenry, Ballinasloe, Clifden, Gort, Loughrea, Tuam
Clare 229 Ennis, Kilrush, Newmarket on Fergus, Shannon, Sixmilebridge
Limerick 24 Abbeyfeale, Kilmallock, Newcastle West
Kerry 75 Cahersiveen,  Castleisland, Dingle, Kenmare, Killarney, Killorglin, Listowel, Sneem, Tralee
Total 550



AEC driving remote working, second sites and investment through hubs

When the Western Development Commission (WDC) decided to investigate the opportunities for remote working along the Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) the assumption was that there would be around 30 hubs operating between Donegal and Kerry.

The research identified that there is in fact over 100 hubs along the AEC including Udaras na Gaeltachta plans to help regenerate Irish speaking communities by opening 31 high speed hubs known as “gteics” in Gaeltacht areas. Many of the hubs are already up and running and some are still in development.

The WDC regards remote working as a key to reinvigorating the region, in line with government policy, and has embarked on a three-year AEC Hubs project. It will focus on such challenges as low occupancy rates in some regional hubs, lack of a centralised ICT system, and the need for improved marketing and branding.

The AEC hubs project has been enabled by initial funding of €1m euro from the Dormant Accounts Fund.  Tomás Ó Síocháin CEO of the WDC believes the development of a network of 101 hubs, with a common booking engine and an easy to access map of such facilities, will benefit employees and employers. Already the WDC has brought the key players together to identify challenges and explore opportunities for collaboration at two hubs strategy workshops in Limerick and Sligo in late 2019 With over 160 participants the key themes that emerged from both include the need for centralised resources including a booking engine; market & promotion toolkit and knowhow; back Office IT Suite / Virtual Network supports; funding and procurement support and more.

Mr Ó Síocháin, believes the AEC Hubs project is timely for many reasons.  “It’s a given that technology will continue to advance, increasing the potential for working away from head office whether that’s in Dublin or across the Atlantic,” he explained. “And obviously there is now a huge push towards a low carbon economy”. He also believes that we are witnessing a fundamental change in people’s attitude to working, a concept which is much more fluid for today’s younger generation for whom “a job for life” is almost an alien notion.

The AEC Enterprise Hubs Project caters for a range of facilities from the Portershed in Galway where 135 workers mostly from the tech sector are now based, to more rural community spaces, some with just a handful of desks but high hopes of giving long-gone emigrants a route home.

“Remote working is an ideal tool for rural and regional development because it is sector agnostic,” said Ó Síocháin. “It’s not just about foreign direct investment or the med tech sector. Any job where people spend part of their day sitting at a computer screen is a candidate for remote working”.

To underline the scope technological advances are creating, Mr Ó Síocháin cites companies like California-based Stripe, founded in 2009 by Limerick’s John and Patrick Collison, which now locates employees in particular time zones rather than in specific buildings. “You can see how that makes sense for global companies who need people in a US time zone or a European time zone”, he points out.

Tracy Keogh is one of the founders of Grow Remote which started in 2018 as a WhatsApp group for people who believed remote working could be a key to regenerating regional communities, ravaged by emigration and unemployment. Keogh was struck by the number of empty retail units in towns and villages throughout the country and realized that remote working wasn’t making an impact in some places. “Some rural hubs had an occupancy rate of only 25 per cent”, explained Tracy. Grow Remote focuses on promoting remote working opportunities – with the emphasis very much on salaried jobs with protections such as sick pay, holiday entitlements and pensions.  “It’s all about making remote work visible and accessible,” she said.

Grow Remote now has 110 chapters (networks of co-working managers, freelancers, nomads, remote workers and remote working companies) in Ireland and abroad, and in October 2019 it won a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland award,  for its contribution to  raising awareness of remote working  opportunities.

Occupancy may be an issue in some rural hubs but not in the Portershed in Galway which opened over three years ago. There are now 135 workers from 42 companies based there and demand for space is so intense that the Portershed will open another city centre hub in 2021 with capacity for 250.

“You can feel the energy when you come in the door,” explained manager Mary Rodgers who said the opportunity to brain storm and to network often opens doors for those working in busy hubs. “We have a good coffee machine and the queue is where the deals are done”, she said. The perks for the workers include having a receptionist and meeting rooms laid on with “zero overheads”.

Given that the average salary for the 135 people based in the hub is 65,000 euro, it also provides a hefty annual injection for the local economy.

WDC executive Pauline Leonard who has carried out a study of hubs along the AEC pointed out that there is huge variation in terms of occupancy. “Some of the smaller hubs are struggling and may be at only 50 per cent occupancy or less, while hubs in urban areas or those associated with third level institutions are doing much better,” she explained.  Her research showed that some hubs still take bookings on the phone or on email rather than through a website.  A surprising number of respondents – 60 per cent – said they got most of their clients through word of mouth – but yet the research showed many are poor at fostering links with local communities.

Some regional hubs have evolved because so many in one catchment area were commuting to work in places like Dublin. Others operate as “second site” for large city-based companies who have clusters of staff in one community. Hubs can also provide backup for people who normally work from home but occasionally need to escape the chaos of family life for important conference calls to clients or colleagues.

With Vodafone currently trialing holographic meetings in the UK, Tomás Ó Síocháin points out that virtual meetings with people who could be in a different continent is not as Star Trek as it might have seemed a decade ago, “In five years’ time that technology could be the norm. Our Skype calls will be replaced by a hologram call” he said.  The WDC intends to lead from the front when it comes to remote working and is currently looking at proposals that could see staff work up to three days a week from a home or hub.

Making hubs sustainable is a priority according to Tomás Ó Síocháin and it’s a concern shared by the manager of one of Ireland’s newest regional hubs, Cillian Murphy from the Elliott Centre in Kilkee, Co Clare.  “Clare county council has a very good digital strategy – funded from the public purse- and clients pay just 10 euro a day to use their hubs,” he explained. “We just cannot compete with that. We have to charge 20 euro a day so we are at a disadvantage”. The Elliott centre did get significant funding under the Towns & Villages Renewal Scheme as well as from Enterprise Ireland, Leader and the local Chamber of Commerce. “But one of our challenges is that the government is good at investing in buildings but not in people,” said Mr Murphy who points out that staffing is an issue.  The Kilkee centre is expected to cater for many with holiday homes locally who can now extend their weekends knowing there is a hub close by. “That benefits the town”, said Mr Murphy.

It is believed the AEC can carve a very powerful proposition in Co-working and Remote Working for rural areas to drive investment and regional growth. Interestingly, social enterprise represents 60% of Hubs across the AEC. This shows the local connection and strong reflection of community needs in both big and small hubs.


FAB Leitrim Gets Creative

Two projects underway in Leitrim are embracing technology to deliver benefits for the creative sector and beyond. The Mobile FABLAB and the Creative Heartlands projects are funded under the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Competitive Fund.

The FABLAB project will establish a Mobile Fabrication Laboratory that will provide access for SMEs, enterprise & innovation hubs and schools to digital fabrication technologies. This will allow them to increase their level of innovation and technical skills  to develop new ideas and increase the skill set of employees. The project which has secured over €140,000 is led by Leitrim LEO in collaboration with the Local Enterprise Offices from Cavan, Roscommon and Longford.

Speaking about the announcement Head of Enterprise for Leitrim Joe Lowe said that “This mobile lab will foster innovation, education and new business development and connect entrepreneurs, designers, engineers, innovators and developers with resources for prototyping, product development and manufacturing. This is particularly important for traditional manufacturing sectors as they transition to Industry 4.0.”

Leitrim is regarded as being culturally vibrant, with remarkable activity and capacity across multiple art forms. Leitrim boasts a strong network of communities rich with artists, writers, filmmakers, dancers and musicians. The Western Development Commission’s publication Creative West noted that the creative sector in Leitrim had the highest proportion of people working within the creative sector (4.4% of total employment in the county) with Sligo the second highest on 4.2%.

The Creative Heartlands will support a creative cluster and skills development to build on existing structures such as the Sligo Leitrim Roscommon Film Project and Creative Frame CPD Network in the region. The project will achieve this through a number of investments in infrastructure, equipment and personnel.

The project will invest in three film editing suites, installed in the Leitrim Sculpture Centre (LSC), Roscommon Arts Centre and Northside Community Centre.  Audio recording equipment will also be available to the cluster members.

Both projects are innovative in their use of technology to sustain employment and support enterprise development.

United Nations AI for Good Conference Comes to Ireland

Trail blazers from the world of Artificial Intelligence alongside international and national policy makers will gather in Sligo for The ‘AIforGood Global Visions’ conference from 25th-27th March. The event which is fully supported and endorsed by the United Nations agency for Information and Communications (ITU), will be the first of this kind to be held outside Geneva.

Keynote speakers include Neil Sahota, Global Lead for IBM Watson, Digital Inclusion advocate Joanne O ‘Riordan, Alessandra Sala from Nokia Bell Labs, Jamie Heaslip, Martin Shanahan CEO of IDA Ireland and Ethical AI leading expert Dr. Kevin Danaher. The conference has been organised by US firm, Live Tiles who have their EMEA headquarters in Sligo and is supported by The Western Development Commission, The Atlantic Economic Corridor, IDA Ireland, IT Sligo, Sligo County Council and Tech Northwest.

CEO of The Western Development Commission Tomás Ó Síocháin welcomed the announcement and said “improvements in technology and developments in artificial intelligence [AI] will bring significant change to the way we live. Welcoming the AI for Good conference to Ireland’s west coast is timely and the conference will explore the ways in which new technologies can improve quality of life for millions around the globe.“

The conference aims to ensure trusted, safe and inclusive development of AI technologies and equitable access to their benefits. Additionally, a priority goal of the Irish event will be to provide recommendations and actions that feed into and influence policy making at the Global Summit to be held in Geneva in May 2020. Attendees can also look forward to AI-inspired performances from the Yeats Society of Ireland and AI-related activities bringing together surfing and sea forecasting, oyster farming and Ocean health, hill walking and cultural heritage activities.

“AIforGood Global Visions will connect innovators in artificial intelligence with problem owners to solve national and global challenges” says Karl Redenbach, CEO of LiveTiles who are partnering with the UN’s ITU agency to launch the event in Ireland. “AI represents not just the biggest economic opportunity that the world has witnessed but an unequalled opportunity to leverage AI technologies for good and to put human-centric policies and design at the forefront of how we interact with technology.”

The 2020 summit is kindly supported by and is run in conjunction with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) the UN agency for information and communication technologies (ICT).

Use our exclusive AEC code to avail of 30% discount- WDCAI4G

See for more details.

Up to 100 new jobs at new Shannon hangar

IAC at Shannon Airport are preparing for the opening of Ireland’s newest hanger which will create up to 100 new jobs.

International Aerospace Coatings (IAC) is the global leader in aircraft painting, interiors and graphics, and employs more than 100 staff already at its European headquarters based at Shannon Airport.

The new €18 million hanger developed by the Shannon Group and leased by IAC has been designed with sustainability and efficiency at the forefront, featuring LED lighting, maximum natural light, an air recirculation system and a heat recovery system for exhaust air.

It was the first hanger to be built in the country in 20 years, and boasts the widest door in Ireland at 90 metres, bigger than Croke Park.

Emmet Moran, V.P. Operations IAC said, “This new hangar completes our capability and allows IAC to cater for complete fleet work as per our customer requirements. This new hangar will accommodate all aircraft in service and aircraft under development such as the A350-1000 and Boeing 777X.”

Outgoing Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market & Data Protection Pat Breen said, “The successes of the aviation industry in Shannon is something we as a county should be very proud of as we continue to be the focus of the world’s largest aviation companies.

“IAC is one such company which continues to invest in the region and its people. Its ongoing expansion and plans to employ up to 100 new workers is a further boost of confidence for the aviation sector in Shannon and further job growth.

“It is also extremely encouraging for it’s students who are trained on site. It was a pleasure to meet the current class on Monday, and I was also pleased to become reacquainted with precious students of IAC who are now full time employees in a company that is going from strength to strength in Shannon.”

“I would like to congratulate the team at IAC including V.P. Operations Emmet Moran, Operations Manager John Mulqueen, Chief Operations Officer Peter Collins and all of the staff who have worked to make IAC Shannon the aircraft painting, interiors and graphics company of choice for the world’s biggest airlines,” added Minister Breen.

Photo Credit: Eugene McCafferty

Allergan to create 63 new jobs at Westport facility

Botox-manufacturer Allegan has just opened its €160 million biologics facility at its campus in Westport. The move will create an additional 63 positions at the facility and will bring its total investment in Ireland since it began operations to more than €750 million.

The Biologics 2 facility will feature new manufacturing suites, including a microbiology and cell-based laboratory with research and development capabilities. The global bio-pharmaceutical company recently celebrated the shipment of its 100 millionth vial of Botox from its Westport plant.

Vice president of global manufacturing and Westport site lead, Paul Coffey, said the new facility allows the company to meet “continued global demand for Allergan’s flagship products.” He said the investment “underpins Allergan’s commitment to advancement in the biologics arena.”

Rural and Community Development Minister Michael Ring said the move is a “vote of confidence in Mayo and the west”. “Allergan is a fantastic employer and it’s great to see it further cement its presence here in Westport. ”Speaking as a Westport native, he added that the company has had a “remarkably positive impact on the town and on the region.”

He went on: “I commend Allergan for putting their trust in the West of Ireland. With the new N5 road project from Turlough to Westport taking shape, our ability to attract investment and jobs into the region will only improve.”

Allergan has operations in Westport, Dublin and Galway.  Allergan’s Irish operations have grown significantly since it first opened its Westport plant in 1977 with just 25 employees.  Now the company boasts more than 1,200 staff in Westport, which is equivalent to around a fifth of the town’s population. (Article Reference: The Western People)

Limerick launches ambitious international marketing programme

‘Limerick: Atlantic Edge, European Embrace’ will articulate the city and county’s warmth and resilience for international and domestic markets.

‘Limerick: Atlantic Edge, European Embrace’ was launched recently, becoming the first major branding of the city and county to promote it nationally and globally as a destination for inward industry investment, tourism, education and for people to live and work in.

Developed by global creative agency M&C Saatchi, the new brand positioning will internationalise Limerick, placing it at the most dynamic global crossroads and capturing the sense of warmth and resilience of a historic city and county.

The creation of the Limerick brandmark involved key inputs from a range of stakeholders, from members of the public and business community during early stage focus groups through to students of LIT’s Limerick School of Art & Design – one of the top 50 third level art and design institutions in the world.

In addition to M&C Saatchi, the creative process also saw a number of local companies, including True Media, Limerick Printmakers, Treaty City Brewery, and Limerick Chocolate Shop, engaged by Limerick City and County Council, while Ireland’s largest marketing communications company, Core Media, will be involved in rolling out the programme nationally and internationally with a bespoke media buying campaign across traditional and social media.

A major multi-market campaign, ‘Percentages’, is a cornerstone of the programme which aims to quantify Limerick’s combination of edginess and friendliness. The character and culture of Limerick will also be articulated through a roll-out of Limerick ‘heroes’, which will see inspirational people tell their stories on video and become faces of the campaign to amplify the sense of edge and embrace that typifies the city and county.

These include aeronautical engineer and author Dr Norah Patten, who is hoping to become Ireland’s first astronaut; and Michelin-starred chef Michael Tweedie, acclaimed tattooist Ross Nagle, Ireland’s queen of style Celia Holman Lee, hurler Cian Lynch and climate activist and schoolgirl Saoirse Exton.

To broaden the brand’s reach and embed it into the various sectors across Limerick, a Brand Ambassador structure has been established. Founded on six pillars Tourism, Education, Business, Local/ Community, Culture and Media, each ambassador will help in the rollout and development of the brand, specific to their sector.


Launching the brand, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Michael Sheahan said that the brand positioning and campaign reflects the confidence across the city and county today.  “This is a real milestone for Limerick. We’ve had an economic transformation over the past decade and we are now rightly going out proudly to the rest of Ireland and the world and inviting them to experience our vibrant city and county. Whether through inward investment, coming here to enjoy our dynamic tourism offering or, indeed, coming to work in and enjoy the affordability of our city and county, we have a compelling offering here now and it’s right that we would take that to the world,” said Mayor Sheahan.

Said Dr Pat Daly, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council: “This brand positioning and marketing campaign is a dynamic new asset for Limerick that will give us an edge to generate more inward investment, more tourism and more people to come and live and work here. In doing that they will join a city and county on a very exciting journey that will benefit all. Our ‘Limerick 2030: an Economic and Spatial Plan’ is a framework for the future. It was set in place in 2013 but we have already surpassed the job targets for it over a decade out. So now we go again and this brilliant new asset is a timely and exciting lever to propel us forward.”

Said Limerick City and County Council Head of Marketing & Communications Laura Ryan:  “A huge amount of work has gone into getting us here today but today is really just the start. We’ve captured the essence of Limerick and we now take that story to wherever we believe there are opportunities for Limerick. Today is a reflection of the new ambition that Limerick has.  The brand reflects the confidence of a transformed Limerick. A city that welcomes all, that has grit, determination and resilience in abundance and one that is at the world’s most dynamic crossroads, where Europe and the Atlantic meets.”

Mary Harris, Managing Partner, M&C Saatchi, said: “We’re incredibly proud to have taken the creative lead on developing the first brand for Limerick City and County. The brand and campaign we have developed represents a major statement of intent for Limerick and sets out its global ambitions. ‘Atlantic Edge, European Embrace’ immediately locates Limerick in the world and captures its grit, determination, and warmth. It also helps establish the City and County as the gateway to Ireland’s premier tourist proposition – the Wild Atlantic Way whilst underlining Limerick’s strong cultural links to Europe, both now and in the past. Working with Limerick has been a true delight – everyone we have encountered has been so generous with their time and their insight. There is a palpable passion for the county and a belief that the time is now for Limerick to come into its own and take its place on a global stage. It’s a very special place and I’m looking forward to seeing it fulfil its potential.”




Next Steps

The AEC Officer Network (AECO) has established a new committee structure whereby one AEC Officer will hold the position of Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson for a 12-month period.

Mary Wrafter of Mayo County Council is Chairperson until July 2020, with Jennifer Collins of Clare County Council as Vice-Chairperson. The role of secretary will remain shared among officers and a rotational system has been adopted. With officers located across all the counties of the AEC, the network will host virtual meetings where possible, in order to reduce travel time, reduce our carbon footprint, and improve the overall efficiency of the way in which the AEC operates.

The Enterprise Space Collector App will ‘go-live’ in Autumn 2019, with information on vacant enterprise space in 30 towns to be collected before September 2019.

The portal allows web searching by AEC (full region and by county), property type, property category and size (m2). The second phase will include the development of a dashboard (Q1 2020) for use by internal AEC stakeholders (Local Authorities, State Agencies, Regional Development Agencies, LEOs, Chambers of Commerce) as well as external interested parties.

The development of the AEC brand and shared content creation network along the West Coast will continue, and an AEC Communications and Branding Strategy will be developed.

An upgrade of the Atlantic Economic Corridor website will take place in Q3 and Q4 2019. A review will include the visual aspects of the website, including layout, format and style, as well as a full review of the content for each county and section of the website to ensure a geographical balance is obtained and increase the number of visitors. A review of communications, including the newsletter, social media and promotional material will take place in Q3 and Q4.

AEC Infrastructure Update

A key task for the AEC infrastructure strategy is to identify the factors that will shape the economic, social, political and environmental quality of our region. To achieve this, we need to identify critical relationships between overarching government plans, the current and future economy of the AEC and the environment.

We recognise that infrastructure is an enabler of economic growth and social wellbeing, but that investment in infrastructure must be supported by various non-infrastructure levers to achieve enduring economic growth.

Over the past 18 months, this has translated into building key relationships with national infrastructure and utility providers; facilitating workshops with national policy managers; building a coherent strategy for infrastructural investment in the AEC; engaging cohesively with EU and National public consultations for example Ten-T and WRC.
The vision is that the Infrastructure Group can be a platform to enable a ‘force multiplier’ effect by harnessing a coordinated and shared approach to infrastructural investment.

National Broadband Plan to invest €938m for the AEC counties over the 25 years.

In June, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross announced an initial allocation of over €8.85 million in exchequer grants to the airports of Donegal, Ireland West Airport Knock and Kerry under his department’s Regional Airports Programme. The allocations will go towards capital investment in the areas of safety and security.