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Smart City: UL president hails innovation and collaboration at LIVE Confirm event

University of Limerick President Professor Kerstin Mey, Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Niall Collins and Mayor of Limerick City and County Daniel Butler pictured at the two-day ‘Limerick Innovation Virtual Event’ at UL’s SFI research centre, CONFIRM Picture: Brian Arthur
Fri, 10 Dec 2021

University of Limerick President Professor Kerstin Mey has said that collaboration between education, industry, government and communities “brings innovation to life”.

Professor Mey was speaking at the inaugural Limerick Innovation Virtual Event (LIVE), held at Confirm, the SFI Smart Manufacturing research centre based at University of Limerick.

The two-day event was broadcast from Confirm’s bespoke Digital Manufacturing facility, located within UL’s Digital District at Park Point.

Described as the ‘Toy Show of Tech’ in the Mid-West, the event - held under the auspices of Limerick’s ‘Smart City’ programme - saw a gathering of key collaborators in the success story that is innovation in Limerick.

LIVE is part of Limerick City and County Council’s Smart Limerick programme part-funded under the European Union’s Urbact ‘Find Your Greatness’ project - Europe's first strategic brand building programme for its Smart Cities.

Addressing the event, UL President Professor Kerstin Mey emphasised the strength of collaboration in Limerick. 

“This Smart City event today highlights the level of innovation in Limerick and it also highlights the number of stakeholders involved,” said Professor Mey.

“It is really a showcase for quintuple helix innovation, where the city, the government, the businesses, communities, the University all work together in order to change the life of people in the city. This kind of collaboration brings innovation to life and really makes a change to people's life in the city.

The digital transformation, Professor Mey said, is driving change and Limerick is responding to the challenges and shaping the future in a multitude of dimensions. 

“Look to our FDI partners who have come to Limerick, they do so because of the rich vein of talent we have here, because of the expertise and indeed the development of advances in the areas of structural materials and global tech, of medical systems and pharma amongst others. Limerick is on the up and we want to bring everyone along and this event will lend opportunities for our citizens to become involved and help shape our interventions and advancements,” the President of UL added.

Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Daniel Butler said that one of the biggest tasks for digital transformation is making sure it does not leave people behind but that the collaboration embraces public and private sectors, as well as communities, and gives Limerick an edge.

“Limerick is a success story in innovation and digital transformation because of the level of collaboration. We have so many of the key partners at the table here in Limerick - the local authority, the education institutions, private sector, civic organisations - all buying into ‘digital Limerick’,” said Mayor Butler.

“Everyone in society, whether they realise it or not, is engaged by the digital transformation. So, when you have all the key partners working together in a way that few others do, you are bound to have an edge in connecting with everyone in society and bringing them on that journey.

“We pride ourselves on being a Smart City and part of being a smart city is to use Information and Communications Technology to enhance the quality, performance and interactivity of our services.  It is also about making sure we are prepared to respond to challenges by co-designing our future: people, council, business, and researchers working together to do this.”

The two-day event included an overview of Smart Limerick’s journey, a presentation of the success story that ‘Film in Limerick’ has become and a panel discussion on how the digital transformation is going to play a key role in the revitalisation of Limerick’s city centre.

LIVE also had Limerick’s first ever drone lunch-drop, as well as sessions on ‘Digital Transformation & Education’ and the need to develop a future-proofed talent supply-chain that ensures the smart sustainable city and innovation momentum is maintained.

There were presentations from both UL and TUS on innovation enterprises, while the Limerick Makers Club outlined its activities and issued an open invitation to other ‘makers’ to join the growing innovation movement.

There were also sessions that involved the launch of the All-Ireland Smart Cities strategy as well as research on Digital Inclusion in Limerick, plus presentations from Limerick based multinationals Dell and Analog Devices.

Launching the event, Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Niall Collins TD said that Limerick was steeped in a tradition of innovation that is very much focussed on a future built on innovation.

“We have the infrastructure built around our researchers who are driving innovation. The University of Limerick, the Technological University of Shannon Midlands Mid-West and all of our manufacturing base around here and our FDI base have all collaborated and fed into this tradition also. But importantly, there's huge opportunities now for innovation, for example the Shannon estuary, where will now be looking at new technologies, green technologies and the innovations that we're now going to need to meet our climate change requirements,” he said.

Also speaking at the event, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council Dr Pat Daly said that Limerick must be in a position to harness and exploit its innovation strengths. He also revealed that Limerick City and Council is cooperating with UL on a Citizen Innovation Lab to be a focal point for future co-creation activities in Limerick to sustain and underpin Limerick’s future.

This will, he said, complement centres such as CONFIRM, ENGINE at Innovate Limerick in the city centre, Digital Collaboration Centre, The FabLab, NEXUS, the Hartnett Enterprise Acceleration Centre where people come to create and solve problems which will generate new jobs for the next generation of Limerick people.

“We are moving to a common vision for our city and county. We want Limerick to be confident and proud, channelling our edginess and embracing creativity while all the time becoming recognised as the best place in Ireland to study, work play live,” he added.