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Cork Independent

Business & Professional

Creating strong Foundations for Cork

Wednesday, 2nd October, 2019 3:46pm

Despite our recent economic strength, Ireland and Cork remain reliant on a relatively small number of large international firms.

That was also the case in the 1980s when Cork was devastated by the closure of Ford and Dunlop in the Marina. Further large job losses took place in the ‘90s when Apple made over 400 people redundant while Motorola closed its doors in the 2000s.

Today, more people are employed in a vast array of companies around the Marina than were working in Ford and Dunlop. However, had the city and region been better prepared, recovery may have taken place more quickly following those earlier job losses.

A new project was launched in CIT recently called FOUNDATION, to develop a framework and roadmap for regions facing industrial closures, job losses and uncertainty, to develop economic resilience through collaboration. FOUNDATION is a four year two phase €1.57 million project funded by Interreg Europe under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

CIT President, Dr Barry O’Connor launched the project and spoke about the lasting impact industrial closures have had in Cork and how that “only through strong connections and collaborations between industry, local authorities and HEIs can we meet such future challenges –the FOUNDATION project will be a key driver of impact in this regard”.

Dr John Hobbs, CIT V-LINC research group who is leading the consortium provided some background on the project, its aims and goals. Dr Hobbs believes “the key benefit of the FOUNDATION project is the ability to collaborate with our international partners and learn from their experiences and let them benefit through ours.

“It will be great to understand and share good practices from local partners with first-hand knowledge – for example how the Oulu region overcame the Nokia restructuring to have a thriving ICT sector in the region, how clusters are used in Linz, Austria as an economic development tool to pivot in times of industrial change and how traditional sectors are utilising Industry 4.0 technologies in Cartagena, Spain; Rzeszow, Poland and Gyor in Hungary.”

Michael Moynihan contextualised Cork’s struggles in the ‘80s in his presentation which was based on his book ‘Crisis and Comeback – Cork in the Eighties’, and outlined the impacts closures had on the region both economically and from a cultural perspective.

Dr Justin Dorn from Cork University Business School shared the realities of regional resilience to economic shocks, where he provided evidence and data from EU regions to highlight what conditions are necessary to be a resilient region.

Dr Doran indicated that a key point regarding resilience is the fact that “EU data suggests that regions with higher levels of education, younger populations, better broadband coverage and those whom are R&D intensive are more resilient and therefore better able to resist and recovery following economic shock”.

Enterprise specific start-up and scalability programmes and organisations that support, fuel and drive industry engagement, employment opportunities, entrepreneurial dynamism, and regional prosperity can be crucial to proactively aid industrial structural change.

The group also visited companies who were born out of industrial closures in Cork. Crest Solutions in Little Island, who now have over 200 staff, hosted the group, as did Aspira. They were set up after after industrial restructuring in Apple and Motorola.

For further information contact Dr John Hobbs at john.hobbs@cit.ie or via the FOUNDATION project website https://www.interregeurope.eu/foundation/.

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