Twenty-one leading professionals across the north and west region of Ireland have increased their EU funding knowledge and skills following a special fact-finding trip to Brussels.
The Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) and Galway Technology Centre (GTC) teamed up to host the EU Studies Programme in the Irish College in Leuven, Belgium.
“The trip was a huge success as it brought senior professionals from across a variety of sectors to familiarise themselves with the workings of the EU from a funding perspective. These sectors included local authorities, government agencies, higher education institutions, regional organisations, SMEs and representative bodies,” said Brendan Mooney, EU Programmes Executive, NWRA.
The innovative programme included visits to the EU Commission, EU Parliament and various other European institutions focused on innovation, entrepreneurship and partnerships.
“A key message from the trip was that there are many opportunities to access EU funds and it is crucial that we develop expertise of this type in the region. As a driver of regional growth and innovation, we are deeply familiar with the challenges that organisations face in trying to source funding to commercialise and scale their business. The objective of this programme was to help organisations of all sizes in this region to build the knowledge and skills required to access those funds which can prove transformative for companies and regions,” said Niamh Costello, General Manager, GTC.
The value of regional collaboration across Europe was another prominent theme to emerge during the trip, and members of the group were educated on how they can forge mutually beneficial relationships with other entities within the EU.
“The partnership with GTC enabled us to reach a range of senior, commercially-focused people throughout the region, and we believe this will have a long-term impact on funding and EU engagement. In Europe, knowledge is key – the funding programmes are there, you just need to know how to identify them and then, crucially, how to access them,” added Brendan.
The group will convene in Galway in early 2020 for a final day of studies on EU funding and structures. They will focus on Europe – Law-making and EU Institutions; Lobbying and Networking; EU Applications; and EU Regional Policy.
“It is an important time to be engaging at this deep level with the EU because new funding programmes commence in 2021 that will endure until 2027. We looked closely at the focus of these programmes and how they can be deployed for the benefit of this region,” added Niamh.
The group members were: Collr Joe Sheridan, Galway; Turlough Rafferty, GMIT; Geraldine Courtenay, Sligo Chamber.; Kenneth Deery, Galway Chamber; Dave Hickey, Galway Chamber; Patrick Devine, NWRA; Collr Donal Gilroy, Sligo; Brendan Mooney, NWRA; Elaine Donohue, BIA Innovator Campus, Athenry, Co. Galway, Frank Greene, GTC; Liam Horan, Sli Nua Careers; Susan Ní Churnáin, Údarás na Gaeltachta; Christine Charlton, Westmeath Co. Co.; Helena Deane, Business Connection Ireland; Niamh Costello, GTC; Ailish Irvine, Irvine Training; John Bartlett, IT Sligo; Elle Gough, Study Abroad Advising; Stephen Carolan, Western Development Commission; Michaela Reilly, Chambers Ireland; Ian Brannigan, Western Development Commission.