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'Waterford Ireland’s ICT innovation capital': Top ranking for WIT in European research funding

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'Waterford Ireland’s ICT innovation capital': Top ranking for WIT in European research funding

Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, Kevin Doolin, Dr. Mark White and Philomena Treacy

Recent EU Commission data shows that Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has attracted more research funding from the EU in the area of ICT than all the other institutes of technology combined and more than many Irish universities and technology companies.

Waterford ranks second to University College Dublin in attracting ICT funding under the Europe-wide Horizon 2020 research funding programme.

To date, WIT has competitively secured over €16.6 million during the course of the H2020 funding programme, with €14.8 million competitively won by the Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG) research centre. Since the beginning of the H2020 programme in 2014, WIT has secured funding for 32 projects in the areas of biotechnology, smart agriculture, social sciences and ICT  - all with the overarching goal of improving our society of the future as directed by the EU Commission.

“The focus of WIT has always been on using research to create sustainable economic development in the city and the region," said WIT president and TSSG founder Prof Willie Donnelly.

"When the TSSG was founded over 20 years ago, there was no ICT industry in the region to speak of. Now it is one of the largest employers. This is down in no small part to TSSG and its record in attracting research funding totalling €40 million to WIT since 1996. The institute's strategic focus on leveraging the European funding to drive research, innovation and postgraduate training has resulted in the emergence of an ICT industry of critical mass in the South East.

"This remarkable achievement, which mirror’s WIT's success in older European funding programmes, is the foundation for a diverse, increasingly vibrant ICT industry in the city and region. The ICT industry, it is estimated, employs over 3,000 people in Waterford and the South East making it one of the largest employers."

Brendan McDonald, IDA Ireland regional business development manager for the South East, said this is a "significant achievement" for WIT and the team in TSSG. "The combination of cutting edge research, talented and driven entrepreneurs, supportive state agencies and a pool of well-educated graduates has created in Waterford the perfect environment for new technology companies to set up in the region and makes Waterford Ireland’s ICT innovation capital," he added.

Of the 28 projects secured by TSSG, having a total project value of €168 million, 12 of these were coordinated by TSSG. Of this total value, €14.8 million goes directly to TSSG and the remainder is allocated to each partner on the project positioned throughout Europe.