Funding win is a major boost for Southeast engineering companies

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD and Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD have announced €377,520 of funding for the development of an industry-led engineering cluster to expand capability and competitiveness in the Southeast.

The funding was awarded to Institute of Technology Carlow to develop Engineering the Southeast, an industry-led cluster in partnership with Waterford Institute of Technology, the Southeast Regional Skills Forum and the regional Education and Training Boards (ETBs). The group, comprising engineering and manufacturing companies and academic providers, launched earlier this year to address skills needs, promote careers in engineering and advance the engineering capabilities of the region.

Michael Carbery Head of Innovation & Development Programmes with Keenan (Alltech Farming Solutions Ltd) in Borris, Co. Carlow and Chair of Engineering the Southeast said that the funding is “a great opportunity for companies who have engineering functions in the Southeast to develop, grow and transform.”

Welcoming the announcement, Dr Frances Hardiman, Head of Faculty of Engineering at Institute of Technology Carlow said the funding recognises how regional institutes of technology have an important role to play in helping companies enhance their capability to win business in international markets.

“An engineering cluster in the Southeast provides a key platform for regional collaboration in upskilling, research and innovation. This funding is a key support in developing a long-term sustainable platform,” she commented.

Dr Ken Thomas, Head of the School of Engineering in WIT said that the funding is “a clear statement that engineering in all its forms is vital to the successful development of the region. Growing employment and jobs of the future are core to the objectives of the Engineering the Southeast cluster and the funding is essential to driving progress over the next three years.”

The broad engineering sector currently employs almost 50,000 in the Southeast region, of which 35,000 are employed in manufacturing and 14,000 in construction. All companies in the region that employ engineers are invited to get actively involved in the cluster through the three main working groups: Promotions, Skills and Research & Innovation.

Speaking at the announcement, Minister Heather Humphreys TD said, “Strengthening collaboration between industry leaders and higher education institutions is a key priority for Government as we work to ensure we have balanced regional development.

“The funding very much complements the core ambitions of Future Jobs Ireland, which in 2020 will have clustering as a key theme. It includes projects that embrace innovation and technological change, improve SME productivity, help to build our skills base and assist with our transition to a low carbon economy.  It is this kind of innovative funding that will ensure we remain competitive and well-placed to grow and prosper in a rapidly changing global economy.”

The Engineering the Southeast funding is part of an overall €4.6m Regional Technology Clustering Fund – the first annual competitive fund of its kind – awarded to 12 academic institutions selected through a rigorous evaluation process based on several criteria, including the project’s significance for innovation. It will provide a platform for engagement between enterprise and regionally-based academic institutions in order to drive productivity and competitiveness in and across the regions.

Pictured above: Edmond Connolly, Manager, Southeast Regional Skills Forum; Dr Ken Thomas, Head of the School of Engineering, Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT); Dr Frances Hardiman, Head of Faculty of Engineering, Institute of Technology Carlow; Michael Carbery Head of Innovation & Development Programmes with Keenan (Alltech Farming Solutions Ltd) and Chair of Engineering the Southeast.