Presidents and Vice-Chancellors of ten universities in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have met at Queen’s University Belfast.
At this meeting, all universities confirmed their commitment to collaborating, on an all-island basis, across a broad range of research and education initiatives.
This includes proposals for a new All-Island Doctoral Training Partnership – Innovation Lab Ireland – with a focus on innovation. The partnership will bring together universities, industry, community and policy-makers across the island of Ireland to support innovation training and practice for postgraduates.
The ten universities will also take forward collaborations around key research themes in partnership with the CBI, Ibec, NI Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland. A particular focus for some of these collaborations will be on the opportunities emerging from the Belfast Region City Deal and the renewed emphasis on developing the Belfast to Dublin Corridor.
Queen’s University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Greer, said: “There is enormous appetite and potential for universities and industry partners to work together to support the innovation and skills agenda, regardless of the outcome of Brexit. An all-island approach provides a unique opportunity to create a real power-house of innovation in Ireland.”
Professor Paddy Nixon, Ulster University Vice-Chancellor, said: “The magnitude of change and disruption that higher education, industry and wider society face is unprecedented. These challenges create a tremendous opportunity for institutions and leaders to find new ways of delivering value to our students and to the economy. Working collaboratively, we will create an all-island ecosystem that will lead to new ways of working, the development of new technologies and ultimately economic opportunity for all.”
Professor Brian MacCraith, President of Dublin City University and Chair of the Irish Universities Association (IUA), said: “On behalf of the seven universities in the Republic of Ireland represented by the IUA, I am pleased to say that we very much welcome the opportunity to deepen and broaden collaborations in education, research and innovation with our colleagues in Northern Ireland. We recognise the depth of complementary expertise available and the many possibilities for world-class research, especially in the context of technological innovation. By combining our resources in a strategic manner, we can truly develop our reputation as an ‘Island of Innovation.”
Angela McGowan, Director CBI Northern Ireland, said: “The business community recognises that universities are at the heart of all successful economies and therefore we are delighted to support this new and exciting approach to all-island university collaboration. Over the last two decades the CBI along with our sister organisation Ibec in the Republic of Ireland, have witnessed the enormous benefits of all-island co-operation for trade and commerce. However, we also appreciate that there is further to go before the all-island economy reaches its true potential.
“The CBI expects that this new higher education initiative will add great momentum to delivering that economic prize for both economies by raising our profile on the world stage in key research areas, attracting more investment into the island and creating more jobs for our young people.”