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).
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Who is Involved?

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

Professor Sandra Moffett, Ulster University

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