Cork Institute of Technology hosted representatives from the ecoRIS3 Interreg Europe consortium for a two day good practice sharing event to Cork on the 28th and 29th of November 2017. The purpose of the visit is to collectively learn about key success factors involved in driving innovation between industry and research and technology organisations (RTOs) or higher education.

The delegation was hosted locally by Dr John Hobbs, School of Business and Dr Breda Kenny, Head of the Hincks Centre for Entrepreneurship Excellence. Supported by John McAleer; Paul Healy, Edurne Romano, Josette O’Mullane and Carol O’Leary. The visitors delegation included staff members from the ecoRIS3 partnership: Fomento San Sebastian (Spain); Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park (Lithuania); Kainuun Etu Oy (Finland); Città Metropolitana di Torino (Italy); Vidzeme Planning Region (Latvia); Conference of Atlantic Arc Cities - CAAC (France) and DEX S.A. (Spain). Dr Hobbs believes “the visit represented a great opportunity to connect and learn from innovative regions across Europe, whilst also showcasing Cork’s innovation ecosystem.

Image: Seamus Coghlan, Cork City Council / InnovaFoster, Giorgos Fagas, Tyndall national Institute and Dr John Hobbs CIT / ecoRIS3 at the Tyndall National Institute 28-11-17. 

The visiting delegation included a number of interesting study visits and workshops. The first to Tyndall National Institute where the guests were provided with an overview of Tyndall’s activities by Giorgos Fagas, EU Programme Coordinator, Cian O’Mathuna, Head of Strategic Programmes, Julie Donnelly - European Nanoelectronics Network and Tom Healy, GateOne Innovation Service for SMEs. The next stop was the Republic of Work – a co-working space in the centre of Cork City managed by DC Cahalane. DC gave a great tour of the facility and outlined the vision and inspiration for the Republic of Work as it seeks to become a key element of Cork’s innovation system and provide benefits to a whole host of firms from start-ups to SMEs and firms looking to test the market in Cork.


Image: The ecoRIS3 consortium at the Republic of Work 28-11-17.

The afternoon session was a formal Workshop where stakeholders exchanged ‘Good Practices related to Industry Innovation through RTO & Higher Education players.’ The session was hosted by the Cork Institute of Technology, where the participants were greeted by Dr Orla Flynn, Vice President for External Affairs at CIT. Each of the project partners were then provided with a ten minute slot to present two good practice examples from their region. These included for example an IOT Space Initiative from Spain, the INTOA Lean Business programme in Finland, ViA SmartLabs: I-LAB from Latvia and WSSIC - the Water Services and Systems Innovation Centre based in Cork, Ireland. A final summation of the key learnings was provided by Fernando Méndez-Navia from DEX, S.A.

The first day was completed with a visit to Blackrock Castle Observatory, where Dr Niall Smith provided an account of how BCO connects with the people of Cork city and Ireland through collaborating with governmental, professional, industrial and educational establishments on programmes which increase awareness of science, engineering and technology through research in astronomy, optics and imaging.

Day two of the benchmarking visit was hosted in CIT where the ecoRIS3 consortium it began with a “Tour de table” for partner representatives presentation regarding the ecoRIS3 SWOT analysis. A key part of the early research of ecoRIS3 relates to the undertaking of a local SWOT analysis on the levels of awareness of the RIS3 process, in the local city, region, or wider national territories.

The visit to Ireland was completed with a visit the Rubicon Centre Ireland’s leading business innovation hub, for a tour provided by George Bulman, Operations Manager and tour of the Create Building. CREATE – the Centre for Research in Advanced Therapeutic Engineering – was funded through the Irish HEA under the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions. The Rubicon and CREATE are both located on campus in the Cork Institute of Technology.

Xabier Hualde, Project Manager at ecoRIS3 lead partner Fomento San Sebastian believed that the workshop was effective “as it is really helpful in terms of learning from each other. Learning how other parts of Europe build their own innovation ecosystems, work in the frame of their respective RIS3 strategies and face similar problems really helps partners to identify possible solutions. The role played by the RTOs and Higher Education is a key issue in this field, as they are one of the most important innovation drivers from a more ‘academic point’ to a practical one, from ‘theory’ to market and integration into ‘real life.’ The Best Practices presented by the partners in addition to the study visits in Cork, really added value to the workshop and to the ongoing implementation of the ecoRIS3 goals and aims.”