Waterford News

South East Regional Enterprise Plan to 2020 1The 3rd call of the Regional Economic Development Fund has been announced with €45m being made available through Enterprise Ireland. The closing date for project submissions is October 17th 2019.

There is also a feasibility study fund of up to €15,000 or 50% of eligible costs, whichever is lesser that can be applied for up to 2nd September 2019.

To be eligible all applicants must be registered as a Designated Activity Company, (DAC) or a Company Limited by Guarantee, (CLG) under the Companies Act 2014. The fund is closely linked to the objectives outlined in the Regional Enterprise Plans; Future Jobs Ireland and Enterprise Ireland’s “Powering the Regions” initiatives.

There are three Streams to this year’s call, listed as:

  1. Stream One to support Strategic Change Projects with major regional, multi-regional or national sectoral initiative: Grants from €500k up to €5m per project in funding towards capital and current costs, at a maximum grant rate of 80% of actual costs. These initiatives should be focussed on achieving defined enterprise development outputs and impacts.
  2. Stream Two for Regional Strengthening Projects, grants from €100k up to €500k per project in funding towards capital and current costs, at a maximum grant rate of 80% of actual costs. These projects should be focussed at local, county or regional initiatives that have defined metrics for enterprise development in the area.
  3. Stream Three to support significant Enterprise Clustering Initiatives with grants of €50k up to €350k per project in funding towards current costs, at a maximum grant rate of 80% of actual costs. These projects should support industry-led groups to maximise the benefits of collaborative opportunities where the results of the activity will have identifiable and measurable impacts on their business.

Note 1: Balance of funding of min 20% may be from the private, community or public sector (including HEIs and Local Authorities). The matching funds of 20% can be in cash or kind (with a cash minimum of 10%).

Note 2: In respect of Enterprise Clustering Initiatives, the balance of funding of a minimum of 20% may be provided from companies within the cluster in addition to private investment funding.  

The Ireland South East Development Office is happy to assist in developing project proposals and forming collaborations/consortiums etc. Early engagement on these funds is important rather than waiting until the last minute so if you or any colleagues are keen to utilise us in developing proposals or forming collaborations, please let us know as soon as possible.

The region has performed well in the previous two calls and it will be important to take full advantage of this fund again.

For more information on the REDF please see: https://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/start-a-business-in-ireland/information-store-for-start-ups/regional-enterprise-development-fund.html

For the South East Regional Enterprise Plan see: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/South-East-Regional-Enterprise-Plan-to-2020.pdf

For Future Jobs Ireland: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Future-Jobs-Ireland-2019.html

 

Design Challenge winnerA design proposal to re-envision the O’Connell Street area in Waterford City, Waterford’s Cultural Quarter has been announced. Luke Carparelli, a Design student at Waterford Institute of Technology has been selected as the winner. Entrants included students from WIT’s BA (Hons) in Design (Visual Communications) and Bachelor of Architecture (Hons).

The Design Challenge project is a design-led research collaboration between WIT’s Creativity & Culture Research Group and main project partners Waterford City and County Council and Garter Lane Arts Centre, together with support from Local Enterprise Office, Institute of Designers in Ireland, Design and Craft Council of Ireland, Creative Ireland, community groups, design industry and local enterprise.

The Design Challenge prize - a €2,500 design research internship - which will take place over a period of two months, implemented within the Cultural Quarter - was awarded to Luke Carparelli, a Waterpark Secondary School past pupil from Faithlegg in Waterford.

Luke is a student of the BA (Hons) in Design (Visual Communications), a four year degree course, which prepares students for employment in the advertising and design area.

Co Carlow’s Catherine Buckley, also a Design student was the runner up, with highly commended entries from Tramore’s Rose O’ Hare, a Bachelor of Architecture (Hons) student and Ferrybank Design student Janice English.

Luke says: “After a couple years overseas doing some backbreaking work I knew I should go home and do something I would enjoy. I've always had a passion for art so I returned to college as a mature student and enrolled myself into the WIT's Visual Communications course. It was a 4 year course and my god did the time fly, going back to college is one of the best choices I've made in life so far.”

The selection process involved an exhibition of design proposals, with the winner selected by public vote and national jury. The competition’s winning entry resonates with the rich history of the Cultural Quarter area, is mindful of the challenges encountered by its community when engaging in the shared space and looks to the future in innovative and sustainable ways.

The project included a diverse range of exciting design proposals from students in year four of the BA (Hons) in Design (Visual Communications) and year five of the BArch (Hons). The design proposals addressed specific challenges encountered by the groups and individuals within the Waterford Cultural Quarter. These challenges were highlighted within the project's totally inclusive public consultation process.

Katherine Collins, Waterford Cultural Quarter Project Manager said, “The Waterford Cultural Quarter team is highly impressed with the quality of work presented by the WIT Design and Architecture students in their projects. The partnership between Garter Lane Arts Centre, WIT and the Cultural Quarter in working with the O’Connell Street community provided for a fertile ground to examine challenges and opportunities that the area presents. We highly commend all involved, and in particular the winning project in a highly talented field of entrants.”

Brian McGee, Market and Enterprise Director, Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, who was on the jury commented “The Design Challenge Project has connected authentic stakeholder inputs with innovative design thinking to identify and address real urban challenges for the new cultural quarter in Waterford. I was very pleased to be a part of the project and would see this as a brilliant and replicable model for citizen engagement in the design process.” 

Grace O’Sullivan, newly elected MEP stated, “It gave me great pleasure to be a member of the project’s national jury. There was wonderful creative energy on display and I found the original thinking very inspiring. I particularly enjoyed engaging in conversation with the student designers, discussing the origins of their concepts and their journeys to fruition.”

WIT Design lecturer Joy Rooney noted the unique research project addresses real challenges shaping the Cultural Quarter today, as voiced by the community there. “Our rapidly urbanising world has brought a rich cultural diversity to this historic precinct. Looking to the future, many sustainability challenges will unfold for this maritime city. The winning design proposal now emerges as a tangible, creative action and an opportunity for our community to lead the way.”

Dr Fiona Dowling, a designer and WIT academic, commented that the multi-disciplinary approach with Visual Communication and Architecture working on a collective brief has been a first and one which links with the over-arching aim of the project to create a collaborative environment. “The outreach for WIT Design to link with local groups and partners in the Waterford’s Cultural Quarter has been one of support and mutual growth which will be built on going forward.” 

Síle Penkert from Garter Lane Arts Centre said: “Garter Lane Arts Centre is delighted that the winner announced has had the opportunity to look at our city and its developing areas through the lens of design and we wish them all the best in seeing future design endeavours come to fruition.”

Jury member Aoibhie McCarthy, Marketing and Development Officer, Cork Film Festival, noted “The Design Challenge highlighted the value of this model for design-led community development whereby design industry, local authority, academia, a local arts centre and creatives worked together to support emerging designers and create solutions to real world community challenges. There is a significant opportunity for Waterford, with its active creative community and illustrious design heritage, to build upon this successful collaboration between WIT, Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford Council, IDI, DCCoI and local business, for the City to take its place as Ireland's natural home of design.” 

For more information on the Design Challenge project visit: www.designchallengewaterford.ie

TOTEM Birds in Flight 1‘Birds in flight’ is the captivating new mural that has been unveiled by artist Curtis Hylton at Abbeyside Bridge in Dungarvan – transforming this integral part of the Waterford Greenway, into a stunning must-see urban artwork.

Waterford City and County Council and the local community has been continuously improving this part of Waterford Greenway particularly since late 2011 when the Smarter Travel works commenced. Subsequently the installation of picnic tables, bug hotels and encouraging the growth of wildflowers has helped lift the entire area. The final piece of the puzzle was Abbeyside bridge, which was detracting from the beautiful surroundings on this part of the Greenway.

“Abbeyside Bridge was overgrown and run down – a bit of a dark space at night that was attracting some anti-social behaviour. The Greenway represents the best of Waterford and I felt the bridge was letting the side down. It certainly was not the welcome we wanted to give to the thousands of new visitors passing under it along the Waterford Greenway as they entered Dungarvan for the first time.” says Colin Byrne, founder of the branding agency TOTEM.

Byrne was a huge fan of the Waterford Walls Festival, the international street art festival that brings some of the top street artists to Waterford to transform the city into an incredible outdoor gallery.

Inspired by their mission to use art as a medium for rejuvenating and inspiring urban spaces, he saw a fantastic opportunity to creatively solve the problem at Abbeyside Bridge, by bringing the Waterford Walls to Dungarvan.

Byrne approached The Walls Project, Waterford City and County Council and local company Shanley Industrial Engineering Ltd to come on board with TOTEM as a patron of this unique project.

“We are absolutely delighted to work in partnership with local communities to develop this exciting and innovative project enhancing the experience and atmosphere of the Greenway. And we set ourselves the unique challenge to deliver an unobtrusive yet effective and creative lighting design for the bridge that would complement the art installation.” – says Managing Director, Brian Shanley.

UK street artist Curtis Hylton agreed to create the artwork. He is an artist that is incredibly passionate about biodiversity with a style that merges wildlife with botanicals. Curtis’s often uses his spaces to make bold statements focused on highlighting the importance of protecting native habitats and species, like our Irish Honey Bee.

As you approach the bridge now, your attention is immediately captured by the vibrant, bold and colourful images of our local birds – the chaffinch, blue tit and little egret. And as you walk underneath, any sense of foreboding is replaced by awe, as lighting by Shanley Industrial Engineering Ltd, illuminates a stunning ceiling artwork of a sky going from dawn to dusk filled with silhouettes of birds in flight.

Birds in Flight 2“Waterford City and County Council was delighted to be involved in this very worthwhile project. Artist, Curtis Hylton and the Walls Project have created a fantastic artwork that will no doubt be enjoyed for years to come along this part of the Waterford Greenway. It is yet another example of the potential of the Waterford Greenway being realised and of how projects like this can add value for all that visit.” Said Cllr Damien Geoghegan, Cathaoirleach of Dungarvan and Lismore Municipal District who was on hand to help officially unveil the new artwork along with other sponsors and supporters.

It has been a project that has been a full year in the making, with so many people and organisations locally giving their support to help make it happen.

“I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to bring The Walls Project to the west of the county and to have been part of transforming Abbeyside bridge into something that creates the right first impression of our thriving town.” says Byrne of TOTEM.

“And I have to say a huge thank you, to the companies who’ve come on board as sponsors to help make this idea a reality – Centra Nugent’s, The Cliff House Hotel, Cork Airport, The Moorings, The Tannery and 360 Cookhouse. And to our other supporters Cass & Co, IQ Branding, Merry’s Gastro Pub and the Shanahan Family from Abbeyside. Without their support, it just wouldn’t have been possible.”

Projects like this, show what can be achieved when communities, local businesses and the arts come together to creatively tackle problems.

Edel Tobin, speaking on behalf of The Walls Project says, “Colin from TOTEM first approached us with his idea for this artwork on the Abbeyside Bridge, back in early 2018. And we couldn’t be more delighted with the outcome. So many people got involved to make this project happen and to see the beautiful results now, makes all their tireless efforts worth it. A big thank you to the incredible and hugely talented Curtis Hylton for his stunning artwork.”

SarahSavoyThe picturesque Co. Waterford fishing village will play host to the 25th Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival which returns to its shores from August 22nd to August 25th.

Fans of bluegrass, honky-tonk, blues, country, Americana and rhythm ‘n’ roots are in for a real musical treat as the festival will feature a host of artists playing almost forty free gigs throughout the village.

This year’s headline act reflects the broadened remit of the festival as The Sarah Savoy Band will bring a touch of Cajun to the festival.  A talented multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Sarah’s vocal style has been compared to that of Patsy Cline, Patti Smith and Wanda Jackson.

Born to Cajun ‘royalty’ in Louisiana, Sarah’s father Marc is a world-renowned accordion craftsman and her mother Ann wrote the reference on Cajun music, ‘Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People.’  A move to France lead Sarah to become a certified chef and her passion for Cajun food and flavours led to the publication of a cookbook, The Savoy Kitchen: A Family History of Cajun Food.

Along with the “Princess of Cajun” the festival line-up includes Irish, UK and American big-name bluegrass and country acts.

Making their Dunmore East debut is “The 19th Street Band”.  Hailing originally from Hollywood, Northern Ireland, Caolaidhe Davis moved to the US in 2005 to pursue a career in music. While establishing an earlier band, he found himself in need of a fiddle player and met Meghan, who auditioned for his band. What Caolaidhe didn’t know was that he was auditioning his future wife. Fast-forward a few months and the pair found themselves living on ‘19th Street’ in Arlington, Virginia, writing songs and creating the sound that would become the backbone of “The 19th Street Band”, an exciting fusion of Americana, country and rock.

New acts appearing at this year’s festival include Liz Morionda, Raglan Rodeo and Alfi, along with returning acts, Land’s End, Mons Wheeler Band, Pilgrim St, Kiss My Grass, Whistle and Charlie Reader.

Mick Daly, Festival Organiser is looking forward to welcoming lots of new names and some old favourites back to the festival.

“Sarah Savoy is a wonderful addition to the line-up this year.  She has been described as the Voice of Cajun by Rolling Stones magazine and she’ll bring an authentic Cajun vibe to the festival. Joining Sarah on the line-up is Missourian Liz Moriondo, a popular singer songwriter who is well known by her dynamic voice as a force of nature.”

“While bluegrass is remains at the heart of the festival, many of the new Irish and international acts are bringing a more eclectic offering to the festival.  Pilgrim St bring a broad range of Americana, country, folk and bluegrass to their concerts across the country, while Alfi is a fresh new trio combining American old-time, bluegrass and traditional Irish music.”

“The festival appeals to die-hard bluegrass fans who have been visiting Dunmore for decades, but it also has a broader appeal to those who simply like good toe-tappin’ music, in a beautiful seaside setting, under the sun!”

The 25th Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival, Co. Waterford kicks off on Thursday, August 22nd at the Strand Inn and heralds the start of four days of free gigs throughout the village.

For more information visit www.discoverdunmore.com or keep up to date on the Discover Dunmore East Facebook page.

Comeraghs Wild 2019 1The rugged, unspoilt Comeragh Mountains and the adjacent coastal hinterland around the stunning Waterford Greenway will be a hive of outdoor activity and fun from July 11 to 14 as the Comeraghs Wild Festival gets underway for yet another year.

This year’s action-packed, four day programme includes an open air concert deep in the Comeragh Mountains and at the foot of Mahon Falls, featuring internationally-renowned singer and songwriter, Don Mescall, and the award-winning Mount Sion Choir.

There’s also an open air showbands special featuring Gina & the Champions with special guest, RTE’s Ronan Collins, in Kilmacthomas, where the band performed live for the first time 40 years ago this year.

Thrill-seekers will revel in surfing sessions; a white-knuckle bike descent in the Nire Valley and more while for culture vultures, there’s creative writing; a Famine walk; afternoon tea at Curraghmore House and at Woodhouse Estate; Dancing at the Crossroads and storytelling with one of Ireland’s most popular story tellers, Eddie Lenihan.

Younger revellers in particular will enjoy sea gardening with Marie Power, AKA The Sea Gardener; the Away with the Fairies fairy garden building sessions deep in Crough Wood; Arty Crafty at Kilmacthomas Library and Sand Art on Kilmurrin Cove with renowned sand artist, Sean Corcoran. Early Bird ticket sales have now opened, with further details on all events on www.comeraghswild.com

Among the new additions to this year’s programme is a cookery demonstration with Decky Walsh of the award winning Holy Smoke restaurant at Nell’s Farm House in the shadows of the Comeragh Mountains. He will serve up a six course feast of local Comeragh delights. On the menu is fire-roasted butternut squash soup, hot-smoked brown trout, slow roast leg of Comeragh lamb, locally-sourced free range chicken, beef tomahawk from a local farm and a fabulous dessert.

Festival chair, Mary Flynn, said: “We’re thrilled to have so many new events and venues this year. Comeraghs Wild 2019 has something for all ages, all interests. Whether you’re into dancing at the crossroads, surfing, mountain biking, foraging, history, craft or food, we really have it all. This is a festival that showcases this region at its very best and celebrates our rich history, our deep traditions and this vast, unspoilt hinterland. We encourage everyone to take part,” she added.

The authentic, community-focused festival has grown in popularity year on year and was moved from its traditional autumn slot to summer time to make it more appealing to families, Waterford City and County Council’s Bernadette Drohan said.

“We’re delighted to work with the voluntary local committee to support what is one of the biggest community festivals in the south east. It has grown and grown year on year and this year’s programme is one of the best yet. We’re delighted to welcome Gina and the Champions back to where it all began for one of Ireland’s biggest showbands. We’re thrilled to have Ronan Collins on board.

"The concert featuring Don Mescall and the Mount Sion Choir will be just amazing. And these are just some of the highlights. It’s all shaping up to be an epic few days in Waterford and we really encourage the public to come along and see what makes this region so special,” she concluded.

For more, log on to www.visitwaterford.com/comeraghswild

John Sheppard FulbrightJohn Sheppard, a Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) academic from Waterford, has been awarded the inaugural Fulbright TechImpact Cybersecurity Award at Georgetown University in Washington DC.

The Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Niall Burgess and Chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Ireland, Mr Reece Smyth, announced the 36 Fulbright Irish Awardees for 2019-2020 at a ceremony in Dublin Castle.

Mr Sheppard will go to the U.S. to conduct research into wearable technologies and associated ethical implications and will work with the Massive Data Institute at the McCourt School of Public Policy to study the Application of Cybersecurity Ethics Frameworks in Emerging Technologies.

John Sheppard is a lecturer in the Department of Computing and Mathematics at WIT and is the course leader of the BSc (Hons) in Computer Forensics and Security, Ireland’s first and oldest undergraduate degree in the discipline.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Mr Sheppard said, "I am delighted to have been awarded a Fulbright TechImpact Scholarship and I look forward to the opportunity of visiting and working with Georgetown University."

The study will investigate how data is managed and handled on wearable technologies. It will look at aspects such as the levels of encryption and surveillance of data residing both on the device and in communications with other devices. The project will also examine the accuracy and the integrity of data on the device, the ownership of this data and the levels of access that third parties are given to such data.

While in Washington DC Mr Sheppard will be based at the McCourt School of Public Policy (MSPP) which focuses on teaching and research in the design, analysis, and implementation of smart policies in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, in the U.S. and around the world. McCourt’s Massive Data Institute (MDI) focuses on the secure and responsible use of data to answer public policy questions. It develops and supports efforts around the ethical use of data, including highlighting best practices for sharing data, managing concerns around privacy and discrimination, and making sure the of benefits of big data research for the most marginalized or vulnerable populations.

He will join this year's other Fulbright awardees who will spend time at universities across the United States such as Columbia, Stanford, Berkeley and MIT studying a range of areas from Music to Agricultural Science and from Medicine to Irish Literature.

Dr Mark White, Vice President for Research Innovation & Graduate Studies at WIT said “The Institute is delighted that John is one of the 37 people to receive a Fulbright award under the 2019-2020 programme.  WIT would like to thank the Fulbright Commission for its continued support and we wish John the very best of luck with his research in the US.” 

WIT has five previous recipients of the Fulbright scholars award including Dr Jimmy O’Brien-Moran, Prof John Nolan, Dr Thomas O’Toole, Dr Anne Graham and Dr Felicity Kelliher and one recipient of the Fulbright student award Ms Dayna Killian. 

Dr Sarah Ingle, Chair of the Board of the Fulbright Commission in Ireland said: “The excellence and expertise of Fulbright scholars, students and foreign language teaching assistants continues to develop after more than 60 years of the Irish programme.  The new awardees are being provided with a great opportunity, but they also have a responsibility to continue Senator Fulbright’s vision of creating mechanisms for mutual understanding, collaboration and sharing of ideas. The Commission Board congratulates the awardees travelling to the U.S. in the coming year and wishes them a very enjoyable and successful Fulbright experience.”

Dr Dara FitzGerald, Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission in Ireland said: “This year we have seen a surge in applications and awards across all of our Fulbright award programmes, and we hope to see that trend continue to grow. Cultural and academic exchange between the U.S. and Ireland is alive and well. We believe that the Commission has a unique role to play in the Governments 2019-2025 US strategy.

The next round of applications for Fulbright Irish Awards will open on 28 August 2019, interested candidates should visit http://www.fulbright.ie for more information.

1848 Tricolour June 2019This year’s 1848 Tricolour Celebration for Waterford City will take place between Friday 28th and Sunday 30th June. Moved from the traditional date of around the 7th March, to hopefully enjoy better weather, which saw first ever raising of THE Irish Tricolour, on 33 The Mall, by Waterford native Thomas Francis Meagher, in the year 1848.

2019 will see us celebrate the 171st Anniversary of the raising of THE first Irish Tricolour by Thomas Francis Meagher, at 33 The Mall, Waterford City. Now in its 9th year, the 1848 Tricolour Celebration continues to gain momentum on a national and international level.

The 2019 events will take place across the weekend of the 28th, 29th and 30th of June. This was planned to be the nearest weekend date, to the actual death commemoration of Meagher, who died on the 1st July 1867. Visitors will include Members of the 69th Brigade New York, Embassy Representatives and Military Veterans.

It is hoped that the new June dates will become a regular in the calendar of Waterford festivals and that the chance of sunnier, warmer and drier weather, will see crowds returning to The Mall on Sunday 30th June.

A number of exciting events have been planned, including;

1848 Tricolour Celebration Timetable

Friday 28th June

  • From 10am; Citizenship Ceremony in the presence of Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan TD. WIT Arena will see 700 new citizens swear allegiance to the Tricolour. Their journey to Irish Citizenship starting at 33 The Mall, where a shuttle bus will take them to WIT Arena.
  • From 6pm; Thomas Francis Meagher historic walk by Donnchadh Ó Ceallacháin, Waterford Treasures at 6pm, followed by dinner at 7pm in Sabai Restaurant. Sabai is a “Blue plaque” building and the premises where Thomas Francis Meagher was arrested on the 12th July 1848.

Saturday 29th June

  • From 10am; 1848 Tricolour Lecture Series, the Museum of Treasures. Speakers will include Dr Jennifer Kavanagh (Lecturer in Law at WIT), Professor Yvonne McEwan (University of Wolverhampton) & Dr Pat McCarthy (Author of “The Irish Revolution”).
  • From 7.30pm; Gala Dinner in the Granville Hotel. Keynote speaker Professor Willie Donnelly and Minister Paul Kehoe TD, will address the guest. The Island of Ireland Peace Choir will perform at the dinner.

Sunday 30th June

  • From 12:30pm; gathering and march with brass bands, military, veterans and friends from Thomas Francis Meagher’s home place, The Granville Hotel to The Mall.
  • From 1pm; flag raising ceremony on The Mall, outside the House of Waterford Crystal.

MEN ON THE MOVE REPORTAs part of Men’s Health Week, Minister Catherine Byrne TD, Minister of State for Health Promotion launched the Men on the Move Evaluation Report earlier this week.

The Men on the Move programme, a male focused wellness programme, was developed and evaluated to identify how best to engage men in their health and wellbeing through physical activity.

The report was commissioned by the HSE to investigate how Local Sports Partnerships together with the HSE and partners could use physical activity as a hook for engaging with men about their health and wellbeing. This evaluation report highlights how the men who successfully engaged in a 12 week physical activity programme reduced their weight and improved their overall health and wellbeing.

 As a result, the HSE is currently increasing the roll out of the Men on the Move programme in conjunction with Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) and Sport Ireland to twelve local authority areas and a training programme is being rolled out to support LSPs to deliver on this programme.

Dr Paula Carroll, a lecturer in the Department of Sports and Exercise Science at WIT and Principal Investigator on the project said “It’s evident that Men On the Move appealed to many men in this study and their consistent engagement yielded many significant health and social benefits.  Through increasing their aerobic fitness and reducing their waste circumference in particular, cardiovascular disease risk was reduced by between 8 and 20%.

“Most importantly, men reported that they had fun while participating.  Allowing men to participate at their own pace among a group of male peers in their local community created a good environment where they could learn about physical activity and health and achieve things they never thought they could do.  It’s absolutely fantastic that the HSE and Sport Ireland are supporting the national roll out of this programme for the benefit of all men in Ireland.”

Male obesity has more than tripled since 1990 with currently, just 30% of men in Ireland being of ‘normal’ weight. Notably, central or abdominal obesity, which is more specific to men, is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and some cancers.  The Healthy Ireland Survey 2016 found that over 60% of male respondents aged 35-54 years wanted to increase their physical activity levels.  Strong evidence shows that physical activity promotes health and wellbeing and offers critically important protection against many of these chronic conditions (Source: RCPI).

The HSE funded Men on the Move programme evaluation study sought to compare the health related outcomes of those who took part in the programme and those who had yet to take part in the programme.  For the purposes of the study, the programme was initially delivered in eight local authority areas, culminating in a celebratory 5km event in each county. Participants were evaluated at baseline and twelve weeks and followed up at twenty-six weeks and fifty-two weeks.

Findings indicate the strong positive value the Men on the Move programme has to the health and wellness of those involved, both in the short and longer term. Body weight, BMI and waist circumference were reduced with significant health related risk reduction as a result. 

Launching the report Minister Catherine Byrne TD said “This Men’s Health Week I am delighted to mark the success of the ‘Men on the Move’ initiative and to see the plans for its further development in 2019 with more Local Sports Partnerships coming on board around the country.

“Our aim in Healthy Ireland is to create a place where everyone can enjoy good physical and mental health, and when it comes to acknowledging and focusing on the particular health challenges experienced by men, we are leading the charge. Our National Men’s Health Action Plan commits to supporting and encouraging men in Ireland to be healthier and more active in their community through projects like ‘Men on the Move’.

“I want to commend both the HSE and the research team in Waterford Institute of Technology for their work on this evaluation report, but most importantly I wish to congratulate the men who participated in the programme and took that important first step towards improving their own health and wellbeing.”

Sarah O’Brien, National Lead, Healthy Eating Active Living Programme, HSE, Health & Wellbeing, commenting on the significance of this study said “The HSE commissioned this evaluation to identify the evidence and best practice for the delivery of a community based health promotion programme targeting men’s health. We have been working with Sport Ireland and Waterford Institute of Technology to expand access to the Men on the Move programme on a phased basis across the network of Local Sports Partnerships. All eight local authorities who took part in the evaluation process have continued to deliver the programme with another four local authorities signing up during 2019 to participate.”

WIT Vision aTreatment of diseases of the back of the eye such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic eye disease is set to be improved with a €4m EU-funded project led by Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).

The project, ORBITAL, will contribute to research which could lead to more widespread use of less invasive drug delivery methods such as eye drops, contact lenses and microneedle technologies, instead of the more traditional injections.

By understanding what patients and clinicians need in practice, the project aims to train researchers to have the skills necessary to develop these patient-friendly drug delivery technologies and ultimately improve patient experiences and outcomes.

Current treatments include injections, which can be unpleasant for patients, and the project has been lauded as a timely new approach to meet the challenges of these devastating eye diseases.

Europe’s ageing population and obesity epidemic means that the numbers living with AMD and diabetic eye disease will continue to dramatically increase in the coming years.

According to WIT researcher, Dr Laurence Fitzhenry, who heads up the project, “There is a clear need for efficient, safe, less-invasive and more patient-friendly strategies for the treatment of AMD and diabetic eye disease”.

“These diseases represent a considerable and growing burden on patients and healthcare systems throughout the world. Given the statistics, there is a lack of researchers being trained with the necessary interdisciplinary skills needed to combat such increasing burdens.”

He explains that engagement with patients, patient groups and clinicians throughout the entirety of the training programme will ensure that patient-oriented solutions are at the centre of all research activity.

Dr Fitzhenry was recently awarded the Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie European Training Network award, worth €4m, for funding of the ORBITAL (Ocular Research By Integrated Training And Learning) European Training Network programme. This pan-European research project, which starts this September, will see academia, industry, clinicians, patient advocacy groups and hospitals working together to create patient-friendly solutions for blinding diseases and recruitment has started for 15 brilliant, early career researchers to work on the project.

ORBITAL is made up of a consortium of 23 members from Europe, Canada and the US and will be led by researchers in Waterford. Also involved are University College Dublin, Queen’s University Belfast, the charity Fighting Blindness, and a Kilkenny-based consultant eye surgeon, Mr David Kent of The Vision Clinic.

€1m of the €4m funding will come directly to WIT, and almost half in total will come to the island of Ireland.

Fighting Blindness is Ireland’s only charity funding research towards the development of treatment and cures for sight loss.

Dr Laura Brady, Head of Research at Fighting Blindness, says, “Fighting Blindness champions the need for meaningful involvement of patients in research. Often the only sight-saving treatment available for those living with AMD requires invasive and frequent injections into the back of the eye. Addressing this burden on both the individual and clinical community, ORBITAL holds the potential to develop technologies that are relevant, safe, cost-effective and patient-friendly. We welcome this opportunity to engage with early-stage scientists and ensure our next generation of leaders commence their research careers with the patients’ needs at the forefront of their minds.”

Mr David Kent, consultant eye surgeon, welcomes the formation of the pan-European research group saying it is an exciting time for Irish vision research. “It is my firm belief that collaboration between laboratories is the key to genuine research breakthroughs rather than individual groups working in isolation.”

“To give you an idea of the therapeutic challenge facing the vision research community, AMD in the eye is a form of neurodegeneration that is highly prevalent, hugely challenging and currently only around 10% of patients can be treated, and not all effectively. ORBITAL is a timely approach to meet the challenges of these ever increasing and devastating eye diseases,” he adds.

NDRC at Arclabs

On Wednesday, 19th June 2019 ArcLabs Research and Innovation Centre will host an open night to give ambitious entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn about the NDRC at ArcLabs accelerator programme.

The focus of the event will be for budding entrepreneurs to hear about hear about the real-life experiences of past participants of the programme as well as one of the investors.

Aisling O’Neill, ArcLabs Manager, commented, “We are so excited to meet all the ambitious entrepreneurs who are ready to drive their businesses to the next level on the NDRC at ArcLabs accelerator programme. It is fantastic for the South East to have the NDRC accelerator here with programmes like this instrumental to driving the entrepreneurial pipeline for the region and ensuring we have a strong ecosystem of innovative companies here”.

This is the second year of the programme and the NDRC at ArcLabs is seeking early-stage digital technology businesses who are motivated to accelerate their businesses to the next level. This is a very competitive programme and companies who are awarded a place on the programme receive the following:

  • Investment of €75,000, €50,000 of which is cash
  • Three months working alongside startups, innovators and investors
  • Expert mentorship from industry experts
  • Weekly workshops and networking
  • The opportunity to build your connections with the investment community

Register here for your free place: https://www.ndrc.ie/news-events/event/ndrc-at-arclabs-open-night

Don’t worry if you can’t attend the open night. You can book a meeting with the venture leads during their ‘Office Hours’ which are being held all over the region. To learn more, book Office Hours slots and apply for the NDRC at ArcLabs accelerator, check out the website: https://www.ndrc.ie/looking-for-investment/what-we-offer-startups/regional-accelerators-waterford-arclabs

 

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