Researchers from Northern Ireland and Ireland have collaborated to win €45.5million in competitive funding from Europe’s flagship research programme, Horizon 2020, recently released figures have revealed.
These successes account for almost 10% of Ireland’s and nearly half of Northern Ireland’s total funding secured with many involving companies from both jurisdictions further strengthening cross-border collaboration and partnerships.
The research supported is varied and covers a range of areas including personal health, food security, information and communication technologies, low carbon energy, the bioeconomy and gender equality.
One such project which has benefitted from Horizon 2020 funding is FloTEC (please see case study at end of release) which involves nine organisations across the UK, Ireland and Germany and aims to demonstrate the potential for floating tidal stream turbines to provide low-cost, high-value energy to the European grid mix.
One of the partners is Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries Ltd which has 124 employees based in Belfast. Fabrication Director, Jonathan Guest explains: “To have a slice of the Horizon 2020 European Research and Innovation Programme money is a boost to the future of manufacturing in Northern Ireland, showcasing the province on a global scale as industry experts in the field of complex renewables and fabrication.
“Collaboration is a vital component in making tidal energy a reality and we see European funding streams, such as Horizon 2020, as excellent opportunities to work in partnership with experts at the very top of their fields.”
“We are working closely with a variety of technical partners including a number based in the Republic of Ireland and believe that working closely with partners in the cross-border market on this renewable project is helping to strengthen the all-island energy economy. Through collective projects, such as FloTEC, private companies can take a joined-up approach to ventures that are mutually beneficial for the economies of each jurisdiction, while advancing North-South collaboration.”
Jonathan adds: “When the project is complete, we will have proven fabrication experience in this area, which will hopefully translate into the generation of future orders requiring these skills.
“We are still in the early stages of FloTEC with cross-partner frameworks and plans now in place. In Harland & Wolff, we have one team member working on the project but when fabrication commences next year, we expect to have around 50-60 of our employees working on the prototype on a full-time basis. The additional upskilling and experience of working on a project like this for our workforce cannot be underestimated.”
“Upon completion, the outputs of the FloTEC project will incorporate many innovative elements, and we are proud that Harland and Wolff is involved as a key European partner and believe this landmark project has the potential to open up new business streams for H&W.”
Aidan Gough, Strategy & Policy Director from InterTradeIreland commented: “Projects such as FloTEC are proving that researchers and companies are leveraging their research and innovation connections across the border to compete with Europe’s best and win big together in Horizon 2020. We would encourage prospective participants both North and South to continue to build on strong cross-border relationships to maximise mutual benefit from Horizon 2020.”
For further information about the range of Horizon 2020 supports on offer from InterTradeIreland, please visit http://www.intertradeireland.com/horizon2020