INDUSTRY RESEARCH AND INNOVATION IN FOCUS AS RENEWABLE ENGINE PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS GROUND-BREAKING ACHIEVEMENTS
Led by South West College, the Renewable Engine Programme has culminated in a showcase film demonstrating just some of the successes achieved by the programme over the course of its five-year lifetime.
The Renewable Engine Programme was supported with €6.1 million funding through the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Match-funding has been provided by the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Ireland.
Designed to bridge the gap between research and technological innovation within industry, the Renewable Engine Programme has worked with enterprises across Ireland and Scotland ranging from micro-SMEs to large multinationals, providing €497,000 funding for a number of energy generation, energy storage and enabling technology projects that have helped to reshape the Renewable Energy Industry.
Working in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast, University of Strathclyde and Institute of Technology Sligo, the project has produced impactful industry relevant research with over 30 publications appearing in peer-reviewed journals and 9 cross-border publications, strengthening links between the partner institutions while also providing a catalyst for additional collaborative projects between the organisations.
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “There is no doubt the Renewable Engine Programme has been a great success. This innovative project has taken a highly collaborative approach across the further and higher education sectors to deliver tangible research and development support for new products and processes for businesses. The programme aligns well with my Department’s 10X Economic Vision for a decade of innovation and I congratulate everyone involved.”
Leo Varadkar, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Ireland, commented: “Congratulations to everyone who contributed to the Renewable Engine Programme over the past 5 years and thank you for all your hard work and commitment. You should be proud of what you have accomplished, with 5 new product prototypes and two new processes developed, pushing boundaries in renewable energy and advanced manufacturing.
This Programme is an excellent example of the value of cross-border collaboration on research and innovation. We are much better working together to solve the great challenges we all share, particularly when it comes to climate action.”
Reflecting on the success of the Renewable Engine project, Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body said: “Unfortunately, our regional economy is still characterised by low levels of Research & Innovation as well as a low proportion of high value business sectors. The EU INTERREG VA Programme has been designed to address this and contains a specific objective, which is supporting projects that will increase cross-border industry-relevant Research & Innovation within the Renewable Energy sector.
“The Renewable Engine project is an excellent example of this support, as it has created an internationally recognised cross-border Research & Innovation super-cluster, which has facilitated high-quality direct knowledge transfer and technology development within the Renewable Engine and Advanced Manufacturing sectors.
“I would like to congratulate the Renewable Engine’s lead partner South West College along with all of the other partners from across Northern Ireland, the border counties of Ireland and Western Scotland who have directly benefited through their involvement in the project,” she continued.
Dr John Harrison, Head of Renewable Engine, South West College said: “Renewable Engine exemplifies the power of collaborative working between the worlds of research and industry. Traditionally there is a gap between academic institutions and industry referred to as the innovation gap, and Renewable Engine over the past five years has found innovative solutions to bridge this gap. The relationships developed and the opportunities provided by the programme have helped position the region as leader in the area of renewable technologies and sustainable energy solutions.”
Dr Peter Martin, Queen’s University Belfast said: “‘Renewable Engine has been a truly transformational programme in terms of its impact on research and industrial collaboration at Queen’s University. Through the PhD projects it has supported it has produced major advances in new materials, manufacturing processes and simulation tools for the renewable energy sector. These have directly benefited industry within the cross-border region and led to the development of several new products. Its work has been instrumental in establishing a showpiece robotic manufacturing research cell at the University, and this has led to further development funding that is now helping to establish Northern Ireland as a centre of excellence in the manufacture of storage vessels for hydrogen’.
Dr John Bartlett, Institute of Technology Sligo added: “Renewable Engine has been a truly transformational programme and over the past five years has been central to the research agenda at IT Sligo. Not only are we proud of the published research and industry outputs, but it is the relationships that have been developed or strengthened by the programme that will provide a true measure of the programme’s success for years to come.”
Professor Paul Blackwell, University of Strathclyde commented: “The Renewable Engine Project has provided an excellent opportunity to build exciting new partnerships with both a range of businesses and academic institutions. The companies we have worked with have included a small start-up company, an SME and a successful local engineering company. The projects have been very different in their scope and style having been adapted to the partner need. We have succeeded in delivering a variety of exploitable outputs both for the industrial partners and the wider academic community and have created a strong foundation for future research collaborations.”
The showcase film to celebrate the achievements of the Renewable Engine programme is now available to watch on the South West College YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PT2iG-P6wgE