What is this research stream?

This research stream undertakes a mixed methods and multi-level analysis approach to explore the factors which constrain and enable digital skills development and digital transformation in rural and peripheral regions in the west of Ireland (which span north and south- west and border regions).

The trend towards digitalisation is creating both opportunities and challenges for smaller economic regions, including in the West and North-West of the island of Ireland. Building on recent literature on the links between regional economic structures and economic growth, as well as the diversification dilemma of peripheral regions, this project will explore the factors which constrain and enable digital skills development and digital transformation in the west and North west of Ireland. The objectives of the project are three-fold: to assess digital skills development, to explore how firms create new paths for growth that embrace digitalisation, and to analyse policy interventions to overcome challenges and aid digitalisation.

What's Involved?

The objectives, outcomes and outputs are:

  • Objective: To examine, through quantitative research at a macro (regional) level, the links between changing skills needs and regional innovation and economic performance to embrace digitalisation.
  • Outcome: a regional skills assessment for enabling technological diversification.
  • Outputs: a methodological model for measuring and examining regional skills diversification; journal publications
  • Objective: To explore, through qualitative research at a micro-meso (firm-industry) level, the case of digitalisation in the MedTech sector focusing on the barriers and opportunities of spanning knowledge boundaries through collaborative partnerships.
  • Outcome: a cross-border evaluation of regional initiatives, such as clusters and innovation hubs, for promoting collaboration.
  • Outputs: practice briefs; journal publications
  • Objective: To analyse how policy interventions both north and south of the border can coalesce to overcome challenges and aid the digital transformation of rural and peripheral regions in the west of Ireland to make them more attractive to live and work.
  • Outcome: an evaluation of policy interventions and identification of policy requirements to overcome challenges and avail of opportunities around digitalisation in peripheral regions.
  • Outputs: policy briefs; journal publications The work package embraces the commitment in New Decade, New Approach that a “top priority of the Executive will be to develop a regionally-balanced economy with opportunities for all”. It also helps address strategic priorities in the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ relating to exploring digital connectivity and infrastructure, promoting the development of research innovation ecosystems and investment in rural and peripheral regions across the west of Ireland (which includes north-west and border regions).
...Read More About This...

Who is Involved?

Professor Sandra Moffett, Ulster University Image

Professor Sandra Moffett, Ulster University

Professor Sandra Moffett has been appointed to the role of Interim Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of Ulster University Business School. Prior to this appointment Professor Moffett was Head of the Department of Global Business and Enterprise, Ulster University, Derry~Londonderry campus. Professor Moffett holds a chair in Business Analytics. Professor Moffett has computational and management expertise in the areas of business intelligence and knowledge management, being the first UK PhD researcher in this area. She worked in the School of Computing, Engineering and Intelligent Systems for 18 years (Computer Science) before moving to the Business School in 2018.

She is a research active member of staff with over 100 referred publications, substantial research income +£2m, and many successful consultancy projects including 7 Knowledge Transfer Projects and 10 Innovation Boost/FUSION projects. She has designed, built and implemented a number of IT systems for Irish organisations. She is Vice President of the International Association for Knowledge Management, regularly hosting conferences and events at local, national and international levels.

Dr Majella Giblin, University of Galway Image

Dr Majella Giblin, University of Galway

Dr Majella Giblin is a Senior Lecturer at J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics, University of Galway, and has been investigating the evolution of the Med Tech cluster in Galway for over 18 years. Using longitudinal research that includes a historical company database as well as rich data collected through interviews with multinational corporations and entrepreneurs, Majella has tracked the composition and connections of the cluster over time.

She was awarded a Ph.D. from University of Galway and teaches in the areas of international business, entrepreneurship and innovation. She also holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, Master of Economic Science degree as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education Studies. Prior to her current position, she held the position of Ussher Assistant Professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Trinity Business School, Trinity College Dublin (from 2011 to 2016).

Dr Kristel Miller, Ulster University Image

Dr Kristel Miller, Ulster University

Kristel Miller is a Professor of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development at Ulster University. Her expertise intersects the fields of innovation, entrepreneurship and strategy. Her research explores topics such as technology commercialisation, new venture creation, business model innovation, SME capability development and regional competitiveness. She has published in internationally renowned journals and is a regular speaker at international conferences and events. Kristel is the co-editor in chief of the Irish Journal of Management.

She is also a director of Innovation Ulster Limited, which is a university technology commercialisation spin-out vehicle. Kristel is a member of the UK innovation expert group, Innovation Caucus and is an expert reviewer for the European Commission. She also engages in ad hoc consultancy to aid SMEs to grow their business.

Dr Karen Bonner, Ulster University Image

Dr Karen Bonner, Ulster University

Dr Karen Bonner is a Principal Economist at the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre (EPC) which is an independent economic research centre whose aim is to produce evidence-based research to inform policy development and implementation. There Karen leads the firm-level strand of research focusing on the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) growth. She also teaches on the undergraduate Economics degree course and is module co-ordinator for the Economic Policy module.

Karen is also a Research Associate of the Enterprise Research Centre and one of the UK team members on the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) project, regarded as the world’s foremost study of entrepreneurial activity.  She is also on the Steering Committee for the Shared Island research programme which is a research partnership between the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and the Shared Island unit within the Department of the Taoiseach.

Kyron Hoare, University of Galway Image

Kyron Hoare, University of Galway

Kyron Hoare is a PhD researcher at the University of Galway. With a background in geography and sustainability, his research will focus on the twin transition of industry to digitalisation and environmental sustainability in rural and peripheral regions, and how this transformation can be enabled by cluster organisations.

Prior to his current position, Kyron spent five years at Regen, a renewable energy centre of expertise in the UK, where he led their programme of community energy business support. Kyron holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography and a Master of Science degree in Environment and Development from Lancaster University.

Professor John McHale, University of Galway Image

Professor John McHale, University of Galway

John McHale is Established Professor of Economics at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, University of Galway. He previously served as Executive Dean of the College of Business, Public Policy and Law and also as Director of the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change. Prior to joining the University of Galway, John held positions as Assistant Professor of Economics and Associate Professor of Economics at Harvard University, and as Associate Professor of Managerial Economics and Toller Family Research Fellow at the Queen’s University, Ontario. He holds Ph.D and A.M degrees from Harvard University, and first-class B.Comm. and M.Econ.Sc. degrees from the National University of Ireland.

His published work has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Development Economics, the Journal of Urban Economics, the Journal of Economic Geography and Research Policy. Professor McHale was Chair of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council from its inception in 2011 to 2016 and he has been an independent member of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) and the Pensions Board. He served as President of the Irish Economic Association from 2016 to 2018.

Jefferson Galetti, University of Galway Image

Jefferson Galetti, University of Galway

Jefferson Galetti is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, University of Galway. He holds a Ph.D. from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Prior to joining the University of Galway, he previously held positions as Researcher Fellow at the South African Research Chair in Industrial Development (SARChI-ID), University of Johannesburg, and as Visiting Researcher at the School of Business and Law, University of Agder, Norway.

Jefferson also worked at a public Investment Promotion Agency, where he engaged with entrepreneurs and policymakers to attract new industries to regions with different levels of development. He has published in internationally renowned journals, such as Paper in Regional Science, Journal of International Management, and Area and Development Policy. His areas of interest are regional economics and innovation, especially how new technologies and workforce skills interact to promote regional development.



Register your details to keep up to date with Atlantic Futures news and events.

Ulster University logo
ATU logo
galway uni logo
limerick uni logo
enterprise ireland logo
western development logo