Western Development Commission praises its collaboration in record year

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CEO of the Western Development Commission, Tomás Ó Síocháin. Photo: Andrew Downes / Xposure

Western Development Commission (WDC) CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin says the future is bright for the region and he praised the Western Counties collaboration among key stakeholders in 2021 despite the challenges of the year.

The comments come as the agency announces one of its most successful years to date.

During the year, the WDC Investment Fund approved more than 9 million euros of investments and loans in the Western region. The national hub platform ConnectedHubs.ie now has over 170 hubs on board, while Westernjobs.ie also launched in 2021, connecting employers with those who want to report a move west.

Creative Enterprise West (CREW), which has just received a building permit for a new state-of-the-art innovation hub in Galway for the creative industries, the Future Mobility Campus Ireland, a test bed for autonomous vehicles on land, sea and air in Shannon, Co. Clare and Atlantic Studios, a new state-of-the-art 40,000 square foot film and television studio, currently under development in Galway, are among the new initiatives that WDC is supporting alongside local councils and other public bodies such as Enterprise Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Galway Film Center and others.

Mr Ó Síocháin also praised joint projects with local authorities to develop connected hubs in Sligo, Mayo, Donegal and Roscommon.

He commented: “The challenge now is for the region to rebuild better but to do it together. The region’s key strengths, combined with the shift to remote working and emerging long-term opportunities in renewables such as offshore wind, mean that the future is bright, allowing this and the next generation the possibility. to build a career in the West. “

Reflecting on the work of the WDC in 2021, he described some of the projects and investments made to support regional growth, attract people to live and work and plan for the future of the Atlantic coast.

In the past 12 months, the WDC Investment Fund has approved more than 9 million euros of investments and loans in the western region. This reflects the impact of the fund over its 20 year lifespan in generating an investment pipeline and helping companies grow.

Highlights in 2021 include investments in Sligo-based Nektar Technologies, Donegal-based Content Llama, the May acquisition of Roscommon-based Fincovi, and investments in Locker, Tympany Medical, Atlantic Therapeutics and Palliare in the County Galway.

In April, the WDC launched a new online jobs portal aimed at inspiring professionals and their families to rebuild their lives in the West of Ireland. WesternJobs.ie now helps job seekers find vacancies across the region and helps employers assess the availability and depth of skills they need.

The portal is free and already has more than 500 registered companies in the region.

As part of the government’s Our Rural Future strategy, WDC launched Connectedhubs.ie in May with the goal of bringing together more than 400 hubs and coworking spaces across the country. Stemming from a pilot project along the Atlantic Economic Corridor, there are now over 170 hubs on the platform and this is expected to grow in early 2022.

The platform not only connects users with hubs across the country and in their locality, but focuses on building a community of hub managers to share best practices, receive training and ensure that this National hub network plays a key role in driving vibrant regional economies across cities and towns.

As part of the ConnectedHubs initiative, the Ministry of Rural and Community Development, in collaboration with the WDC, announced funding of more than € 14 million to improve and add capacity to remote work infrastructure in each region from Ireland. This has allowed many hubs to effectively plan their reopening after lockdown and later in the year to add capacity, new equipment and, in many cases, to make structural changes to ensure that ‘they could meet growing demand.

In connection with the Western Development Commission’s More To Life campaign, a new TV series for TG4 has been created and presented by acclaimed broadcaster Mary Kennedy. The show highlighted the possibilities for those considering relocating to the West of Ireland, including those working from their new home, from a connected hub across the West or taking on a new role with a multinational company.

The show has been watched by over 500,000 viewers and discussions are already underway for a second season.

The WDC has partnered with researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway to publish summary data from the second annual national survey on remote working in Ireland. The survey gathered responses from more than 6,400 employees, examining their experience working remotely a year after the lockdown. The survey results, released in May, showed that 95% of those polled supported remote working.

In December, the agency launched a new campaign focused on those who grew up in the west but now live abroad. The campaign titled “There is no place like home” saw hundreds of western diasporas who now live abroad join an online event to explore employment opportunities in the country. the region and how they could take the first steps to return home.

Scaling up ideas remains a priority in the region, and this week alone Interreg bridging funding was allocated to further develop existing projects in areas such as literary tourism, online mentoring and use. renewable energies.

Mr Ó Síocháin concluded by re-emphasizing the role that collaboration will play among key stakeholders when planning the region until 2022 and beyond.


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