What is the Atlantic Futures project?

The Atlantic Futures Project is a collaboration between Ulster University, University of Galway, Atlantic Technological University and University of Limerick for sustainable regional development to make a real world impact on aspects of industry and civic society in the North West Atlantic Innovation Corridor region.

Announced in March, the flagship project has seen the creation of a research team organised in three co-located hubs in Derry/Londonderry, Galway and Limerick, working to understand and address issues which uniquely affect this section of the Atlantic corridor, namely: relative slow economic growth; low levels of female entrepreneurship; higher rates of mental health difficulties among young people than ever before; barriers to digitalisation in rural areas; and issues with international freight connectivity with no state ports or airports  in the region.

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Atlantic Futures is a €4million four year cross-border research project funded by The North-South Research Programme. The NSRP is a collaborative scheme funded through the Government’s Shared Island Fund. It is being administered by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

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Ulster University

As Northern Ireland’s civic university, Ulster University is grounded in the heart of the community and strives to make a lasting contribution to society as a whole. Renowned for its world-class teaching, Ulster aims to transform lives, stretch minds and develop the skills required by a growing economy. The outcomes of our research have global significance with local relevance, and contribute to the social, economic and cultural betterment of our region.

Our University has an outstanding reputation for teaching and research; this can be seen in the NSS survey and our results in the latest Research Excellence Framework. Academic excellence permeates every aspect of our endeavours. We have an outstanding reputation for teaching as well as world-class teaching facilities, coupled together, this creates an educational experience that develops skills, raises ambitions and prepares future leaders.

Our research is world-leading and globally relevant, we work with other universities around the world to deliver ground-breaking research that can help future generations.

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University of Galway

Established in 1845, University of Galway is one of the top 2% of universities in the world. They are in the top 50 universities globally for sustainable development in line with the United Nations SDGs.

Galway is a bilingual university, comprised of four colleges, 18 schools and five research institutes, with more than 19,000 students, including around 3,000 international students. They are the only university in Ireland designated a Government of Ireland Sustainabåle Development Champion.

Galway been accredited with an Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award, and 11 out of their 18 schools hold individual Athena SWAN Awards. They have more than 2,500 staff, and research collaborations with 4,675 international institutions in 137 countries.

University of Galway have 133,000 alumni and 98% of graduates are in employment or further study within six months.

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Nestled along the rugged west coast of Ireland, Atlantic Technological University (ATU) is a newly emerging bastion of academic distinction and innovation. Spanning nine campuses across the Atlantic corridor, from Galway to Letterkenny, ATU is a dynamic institution with a vibrant student body of over 24,000 students, fostering a culture of academic excellence and community engagement.

ATU's commitment to research is exemplified by its eight cutting-edge research centers, driving advancements across society and industry. The university excels in community enhancement, leveraging research initiatives to drive innovation, uplift localities and contribute to societal well-being.

Through knowledge transfer programs, ATU bridges the gap between academia and industry, fostering innovation that positively impacts both realms, with ongoing research commitments to community & societal enhancement, knowledge transfer, marine biology, clean water and historical conservation.

With 5,000 annual graduates, ATU ensures a steady influx of skilled professionals contributing to both society and industry and is recognised as one of Ireland’s new leading academic institutions, both nationally and internationally.

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University of Limerick

University of Limerick is a research-led, independent, internationally focused university with more than 18,500 students and 2,000 staff.  It is a young, energetic and enterprising university with a proud record in innovation and excellence in education, research and scholarship.

The dynamic, entrepreneurial and pioneering values which drive UL’s mission and strategy ensure that they capitalise on local, regional, national and international engagement and connectivity.

Their commitment is to make a difference by shaping the future through educating and empowering their students.  By working together across disciplines, their community is achieving fundamental breakthroughs whilst ensuring research is rapidly translated into economic and social impacts for Ireland and beyond.

They are renowned for providing an outstanding student experience and conducting leading-edge research, which addresses a number of global challenges including affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, climate action and public health.

Ongoing UL research addresses areas of vital importance to our society such as education, languages, creativity, healthcare, complexity in contemporary and historical contexts, and social inclusion.  Their work has significant impact on sectors vital to our economy including pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, software, med-tech, food, communications, energy, finance and the public sector.

Liam Maguire, PVC Research, Ulster University

“Atlantic Futures combines the significant research prowess of the four institutions to advance challenges in this distinct region. Our collective work aligns closely with national goals set out by both governments in the New Decade New Approach in Northern Ireland and the National Development Plan in the Republic of Ireland. Namely, of a regionally balanced economy which is common to both, a high quality international transport connectivity (NDP) and exploring digital connectivity and infrastructure (NDNA). From our progressive  Derry~Londonderry campus, we are uniquely placed to contribute to this regional partnership, through research that can drive forward practical solutions for the benefit of individuals, organisations and communities. We look forward to collaborating with our colleagues in Galway, Limerick and ATU.”

Jim Livesey, Vice-President Research and Innovation, University of Galway

“Our ambition is large and clear: we want Atlantic Futures to be recognised internationally for understanding what drives economic, social and cultural aspects of life in the region, on the edge of Europe. This project is a big responsibility and we want to see it make a tangible difference with research in action such as mentoring for female entrepreneurs and management masterclasses along with focus groups and information from the people who live and work in the region. This brand new cross-border data and the insights it uncovers will be shared with others carrying out similar work in Europe and beyond, to help inform similar programmes for sustainable regional development.”

Professor Norelee Kennedy, Vice President Research at University of Limerick

“We want our research to have an impact in the area. We are working together to achieve  four outcomes. They are the alignment of the research capacity of the leading research institutions along the west coast of the island of Ireland around the problems of transition and transformation in our shared region; development of a body of research to inform policy, co-created with relevant stakeholders addressing specific salient issues affecting the three city region; garnering new and robust insights into the developmental pathways for multi-city regional transformation; and understanding the role inter-cultural understanding and misunderstanding plays in cross-border collaboration and co-ordination.”

Dr Rick Officer, Vice President for Research and Innovation based at ATU’s Galway City campus

“The Atlantic Futures programme will foster sustainable innovation along the island’s Atlantic coast, from the western counties of Northern Ireland and Donegal down to the Shannon Estuary. Atlantic Futures will focus on addressing challenges experienced by these areas, such as retention of local talent, over-reliance on foreign direct investment, and a lack of indigenous small and medium-sized enterprise growth. This Atlantic corridor has high-performing economic sectors such as the MedTech, FinTech and Advanced Manufacturing, but it also faces problems including housing, and persistent loss of talent to other regions.

Previous models of economic and social transition have focussed on metropolitan centres. Atlantic Futures differs in its focus. Our ambitious programme will take a multi-pronged approach to identifying obstacles to sustainable innovation in the region and ways to support its development. The programme focusses on how a complex, distributed, and multi-city region, such as the cross-border, west and north-west of Ireland, can successfully foster sustainable innovation.”

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