The Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) Programme have today announced the approval of projects for their recent Bridging call. The WDC have been successful in securing €236,990 in Interreg funding to develop smart solutions in emerging areas such as Literary tourism, Circular economy, and Online mentoring capability.
The WDC made the applications in response to the call which was launched by the NPA Programme in August of this year,
The projects aim to develop expertise and SMEs potential through the application of Digital solutions to inherent strengths of the West of Ireland Region in these areas. A key consideration is also to prepare the areas for a sustainable future, in line with the Regions character and aspirations.
Commenting on the announcement, Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the WDC, said
These projects align with the ongoing work of the WDC through the development of the connectedhubs.ie network along the Atlantic Economic Corridor, the further development of the Creative Economy, these early-stage initiatives strengthen the role of the west as a region of innovation
HubMent (Smart Mentoring Platform Capability for Regional Hubs) sees an extension and scaling of BizMentors Internationals service by building strategic partnerships with regional organisations and hubs to link mentoring and associated capabilities via digital platforms to key communities or groups of SMEs, e.g., in the Creative Economy (CREW Galway), in Food Innovation (BIA Innovate). In Ireland, the “connectedhubs.ie” organisation of 400 hubs will be involved in piloting the concept across the diverse range of SMEs located within them. Additionally, the project shall seek to extend the online mentoring model to the Social Enterprise realm.
Blue Circular Tech (BCT) project will assist communities and SMEs who are interested in tackling marine plastic waste through the design, recycling, and upcycling of waste fishing gear. Both economically and culturally, fishing and aquaculture are central to the life of the Western region – by investigating new ways to create new economic opportunities within the circular economy, the BCT project will help to protect the future health of the sea and the communities who depend on it.
The GOALS project, will bring together SMEs and larger companies who have a shared interested in improving the environmental and economic sustainability of their enterprises. Though sustainability is increasingly important to companies big and small, SMEs often lack the dedicated resources available to larger companies in setting and achieving such goals. The GOALS project will seek to aid SMEs from the Western region in pursuing sustainability goals which are appropriate to their resources and to the long-term aims of their business.
Remarking on the announcement, Ian Brannigan, Head of Regional Development, said “This funding involves four projects, six European countries as well as dozens of regional partners and SMEs. In challenging times, it offers the region a means to collaborate on growing sectors that will influence our futures”.
 . The Western Development Commission (WDC) will lead the project along with partners in SCCUL Enterprises CLG (IE), Association of Municipalities in Northeast Iceland (IS) and Matís (IS).
 partners from Norway (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) and the UK (University for the Creative Arts)
 WDC will work with partners in Finland (Karelia University of Applied Sciences)