Chamber calls for creation of a UK-Ireland bilateral research stream & the North-South Academic Corridor

Minister Mitchell  O’Connor: “A strong UK-Ireland partnership will prove to be a catalyst in fostering research excellence”

18th November 2019 – At its second annual high-level conference on higher education and research, the British Irish Chamber of Commerce called on policymakers to pursue closer ties with UK universities in order to realise Ireland’s potential to become a global research centre post-Brexit. The ‘UK-Ireland Higher Education and Research Partnership: The Next Steps’ conference, sponsored by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and Mazars, brought together leading policymakers, educators and researchers from both sides of the Irish Sea.

Over 150 attendees were provided with an update on the development of new UK-Ireland joint research projects and the new policy mechanisms that need to be introduced to unleash innovation within British and Irish research centres in the years ahead. These include the creation of a UK-Ireland bilateral research stream and the North-South Academic Corridor.

In his address to attendees, Niall FitzGerald KBE KSA, Patron of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce said: “Today’s discussions give a unique opportunity to demonstrate clearly the vital role of our higher education and research sector in the UK and Ireland, and to make the case to government and to industry for much greater commitment to its future sustainability. Regardless of any wider context, it is in both Ireland’s and the UK’s interests to find initiatives and mechanisms that can proactively support further practical collaborations between and across the two islands.”

As the primary forum focused on joint research, education and business space, the high-level conference was opened by the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD.  Speaking at the conference, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “Despite the UK leaving the EU before the end of January, Ireland will continue to cultivate stronger ties with world-leading universities in the UK. A strong UK-Ireland partnership will prove to be a catalyst in fostering research excellence and strengthening investment in Irish universities. I commend the British Irish Chamber of Commerce for their pioneering efforts to incentivise greater collaboration in higher education and research across the Irish Sea.”

Dr Alan Wall, CEO, Higher Education Authority, said: “Following on the success of the first high-level conference, today’s event puts higher education at the centre of national debate. With Brexit firmly on the horizon, the higher education sector in Ireland must deepen our ties with the UK. Greater cooperation with their British counterparts will enable Irish universities to grow into global research centres.”

Dr Ciarán Seoighe, Deputy Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, said: “UK Ireland relations are an important focus for Science Foundation Ireland. Last year we supported over 1,600 collaborations with researchers in the UK, a fifth of which were industry based. As a direct result, there are a range of research collaborations between SFI Research Centres and multinational companies with origins in the UK. We look forward to building on this excellent foundation, strengthening our research relations and together, leveraging opportunities to develop shared areas of expertise.”

Dr Graham Love, Partner, Consulting, Mazars said: “Irrespective of the final Brexit outcome, Ireland must maintain a strong relationship with the UK. By supporting today’s conference, Mazars is helping to support policymakers in Ireland and the UK to strengthen our research relationships and position us to tackle the pressing challenges of our times.”