Minister Ossian Smyth launches Sustainability Challenge at University of Limerick
Minister Ossian Smyth and University of Limerick PhD student Simin Arshi launching the Sustainability Challenge Pictures: Don Moloney
Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Minister of State with responsibility for Public Procurement, eGovernment and Circular Economy Ossian Smyth TD has launched a University of Limerick competition that seeks to tackle climate challenges.

Minister Smyth was at the Bernal Institute at University of Limerick this morning to launch the Sustainability Challenge, which seeks ambitious proposals from students at the University to attempt to solve climate issues.

He was attending an event in the Bernal Institute as part of UL Research Week 2022 to deliver a keynote address at ‘AStruM 2022 - Towards a Circular Economy’.

The concept of the Sustainability Challenge evolved from a partnership between the Bernal Institute, Kemmy Business School and Buildings and Estates department at UL to empower and encourage students to contribute to sustainable development.

The Challenge seeks ambitious proposals from undergraduate and postgraduate student teams at UL to tackle climate change, with ideas or proposals to be applicable to either the campus, the city or wider Mid-West region or even further afield.

Speaking at the launch of the challenge today at UL, Minister Smyth said: “Achieving a circular economy requires a radical break with our current ‘take-make-waste’ model. New materials and products designed to maximise re-use within a close- loop system will play a vital role in this transition. So I am delighted to be part of the launch of the Sustainability Challenge today and will be looking forward to hearing more about the successful proposals.”

Luuk van der Wielen, Director of the Bernal Institute at UL, said: “Circularity of materials, renewable energy and emission reductions in transport and agri-food chain are likely career paths for our graduates. Innovative solutions will benefit from diversity and multidisciplinarity.

“We encourage diversity across the participating teams which will benefit quality of submissions and also prepare students really well for later careers. We are very happy with the initial support among the faculties to enable students to integrate the challenge in their programs, where appropriate.”

Dr Rita Buckley, Lecturer in Economics at the Kemmy Business School, said: “We are challenging students to find innovative solutions that aim to create positive, environmental, social and economic impacts.

“Taking part in the competition exposes students to challenges that will require research and entrepreneurial thinking by offering precise and concrete solutions to implement good environmental practices.  It also a unique opportunity to develop important skills that employers value, such as teamwork, communication, presentation skills, creativity and problem solving.”

The challenge is part of a programme of events taking place this year to mark the 50th Anniversary of the University of Limerick. Submissions are expected to inspire and guide future investments in the Castletroy and city campuses, or can be drawn on as ideas for further development.

Student teams are being asked to submit their ideas by 5pm Monday, August 1, 2022.

Five finalist teams will be selected by an independent expert panel comprising representatives from industry and academia. The five most promising project proposals will be shortlisted, each will receive support, and up to €10,000 to prepare and deliver a working pilot or demonstration of their proposal by March 2023. The outcome will be evaluated on the basis of targets, feasibility plan, societal impact and delivery.

The winning team will be announced in April 2023.