Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) again demonstrated its strength as a research-focused organisation during a recent visit by the European Parliament’s Committee on Regional Development. The delegation, comprising four Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and various other officials, heard that WIT is already operating at a University level, in terms of its research track record.
As part of their WIT tour, the delegation met President Ruaidhrí Neavyn and Prof. Willie Donnelly, Vice-President of Research and Innovation at the Institute’s Research Campus in Carriganore. Here, in the NetLabs Building they were treated to an exemplar of how economic value can be generated by locating a research and innovation centre within a third-level educational institution.
Speaking on the day, Prof. Donnelly said, “The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has been a hugely important funding source for the Institute and has helped WIT to build and expand its research capacity in key areas. It has also allowed us to become a driver of employment in the region.
The ERDF has contributed over €13 million in co-funding for WIT, contributing significantly to the construction of the ArcLabs and NetLabs Buildings in Carriganore. An enhancement scheme for research facilities, together with capital funding and PRTLI funding for a graduate education programme has also benefited from ERDF.
WIT’s ICT research wing, Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG) is a major driver of the telecoms industry in the region. In the last five years, TSSG has secured funding in excess of €10 million under the Seventh EU Framework Programme (FP7), making it one of the most successful ICT research centres in Ireland.
In a recent report by the European Commission on ICT research performers in FP7, WIT is on a level par with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), and is second only to University College Cork (UCC) whose Tyndall facility is a major player in the field of photonics.
The visiting EU delegation were also informed on the day of a statement made by Mr Gearóid Mooney, Director of ICT Commercialisation, Enterprise Ireland who said “Waterford is a shining example of how co-locating the incubation centre [co-funded by ERDF] with the institute has led to the establishment of a software industry that probably should not have existed in Waterford. Unlike the normal impacts of business around there, this industry has been driven from the educational facility”