Waterford News

Waterford can be Ireland’s Barcelona

Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) VP for Strategy Dr Richard Hayes has said that Waterford should learn from what Barcelona has done in recent years to reinvent itself.

“Waterford can be Ireland’s Barcelona,” said Dr Hayes, speaking following the announcement of €4 billion in government funding in support of the goals of the National Planning Framework. The funds will be targeted specifically at urban renewal and regeneration, new technological developments, and in support of environmental and climate change targets.

Dr Hayes indicated that WIT is “ready and available” to assist Waterford city in making its applications under the various funding calls, noting that WIT’s expertise is “perfectly aligned” with the detail of the funding.

“WIT’s areas of internationally-acclaimed research include activity in innovation, in disruptive and new technologies, and in agriculture, all of which are covered by the €4 billion call,” he said. “In addition to proposals for the development of the city, we are ready and able to drive funding applications across the other domains as well. The potential is there to transform the city and region if we focus on quality and have ambition. In time Waterford can be Ireland’s Barcelona, one of the best and most successful small cities in Europe.”

“WIT fully support the National Planning Framework and particularly welcomes the creation of these competitive funding calls in support of the goals of the Plan,” said Dr Hayes. “We are fully committed to the emphasis in theFramework on building up our regional cities as the drivers of economic growth—our own research and experience in Europe shows that this is the only way to grow the region and to ensure future prosperity.”

Dr Hayes drew parallels between Waterford and Barcelona in Catalonia in this context.

“While the cities are very different in terms of scale,” he said, “the cities share a similar history. We should learn from what Barcelona has done in recent years to reinvent itself: it is now investing heavily in changing its old docklands into technology parks that are attractive to modern high-tech industry and business. Barcelona is a great example of a city where innovation is important and where new ideas are valued and new thinking promoted. It is of course also a vibrant and attractive city from a cultural point of view. It has built on its traditional strengths, embraced technology and formed a sustainable regional city that impacts enormously on the wider Catalonian region.”

WIT currently works on a number of projects with partners in Barcelona and, Dr Hayes says, “is at the heart of discussions in Europe on the economic, social and cultural future for regions in the context of globalisation and high technology.”

“Barcelona is an ideas-led city,” he continued, “and we partner with universities there as the drivers of regional change. Part of the infrastructure needed to be able to make the kinds of changes needed in a region is a fit-for-purpose, high-quality third level offering. The proposal for a Technological University that we are currently developing will seek to position WIT and Waterford as drivers in the South East of urban and regional transformation through recognising and building on the very high quality and impactful work we have been doing for many decades.”

WIT has recently approved its strategic plan to 2021. The Plan involves the Institute becoming one of the Top 100 new universities in the world within 10 years.


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