University of Limerick President Don Barry outlines the significant role of research and linking academia
with industry in driving entrepreneurship and innovation to help foster economic growth for Ireland.
University of Limerick’s new four-year strategic plan, Broadening Horizons, commits UL to building on our achievements, accentuating our distinctiveness and raising our international profile. We are harnessing our core strengths to extend the University’s international ambition and reach, thereby enhancing the economic, social and cultural life of the region and the country.
Ireland’s small, island economy is heavily dependent on exports and foreign direct investment (FDI), making our international profile critical. Our higher education institutions must contribute to Ireland’s international reputation in terms of education, research and innovation.
At UL, we have a long-standing track record of delivering skilled graduates who can compete internationally. Across the research spectrum, we collaborate with multinationals in many sectors including Pharma, Medical Devices, Advanced Manufacturing, Food, Software and Communications, enhancing Ireland’s profile on international platforms. And the success of these partnerships is directly linked to increased employment, especially research and development–focussed jobs.
For start-ups, our Nexus Innovation Centre helps new companies to target global markets, which is crucial to their future success. We encourage entrepreneurship in our students and many have won awards. Many have won international awards for their innovations, most recently in the international Dyson competition.
Marrying academia and industry is not a new concept for UL; in the 1970s, the institution partnered with industry to pioneer Cooperative
Education. Currently UL has industry collaborations representing external investment of €130 million from over 85 industry partners. We are committed to maintaining our position as the research partner of choice for business and we continue to develop innovative models of
Our award-winning SFI supported Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre is unique internationally, given the level of company involvement (19 multinationals [MNCs] and SMEs) and the breadth of its research. It is regularly referenced as an exemplar of industry-academic engagement and has won numerous awards. Another example is the colocation of MNCs and SMEs
in the UL Enterprise Corridor, generating innovative and exciting multidisciplinary projects.
Through the Limerick for IT and Limerick for Engineering initiatives the University, in partnership with LIT and businesses, is responding to skills needs and helping companies win additional investments in this region. Ireland has recognised the need to align investments to meet the challenges and opportunities facing our economy and society.
UL is well positioned to support this given its tradition and track record of focusing on translational research impacting on the real world.
Our €52 million Bernal project in science, engineering and technology demonstrates how we are investing further in research areas of strategic economic importance to Ireland. We are also committed to enhancing our engagement in international programmes including H2020 and to developing supports for innovation and entrepreneurship to boost the SME sector.
Ireland is making a comeback and UL is playing its part. We are empowering our graduates with the skills to be innovative and creative.
We are building our international research collaborations and outputs. And I strongly believe that Ireland can build real economic advantage
and achieve sustainable prosperity if it supports universities in their pursuit of world-class, innovative education that delivers real impact