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Dr. Valerie Brett BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD

Title:

Athena Swan Coordinator

School/ Department:

Research Staff Forum

Telephone:

+353 0 51 832068

Room Name/ Num:

G.18 ArcLabs Research and Innovation Centre.

Campus:

Carriganore

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My Biography

Current Position: Researcher on the FP7 eDIGIREGION Projec

eDIGIREGION is a unique collaborative project that brings together four high-potential research-driven clusters in diverse European regions (South East Ireland, Central Hungary, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain and Bucharest-Ilfov, Romania). The aim of eDIGIREGION is to use the triple helix partnership to plan, design and implement an ecosystem of research, innovation, creativity and commercialisation that supports the implementation of the EU Digital Agenda in each region.

Project Co-ordinator on the GRUNDTVIG Long Life Learning FIERE (Furthering Innovative Entrepreneurial Regions of Europe) project

FIERE project aims to support regional organisations’ employees to behave more entrepreneurially and innovatively within their work environment. Innovative entrepreneurship lies at the intersection of entrepreneurship and innovation as it recognises the necessity of teaching innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity skills to the public, private, community & enterprise and voluntary sector workforce. Furthermore, the FIERE partnership aims to design and implement a training programme in each FIERE partner region to support employees by increasing their potential, capacity and capability to behave entrepreneurially and innovatively.

Research

I have a strong interest in the area of regional development, regional and industrial knowledge and knowledge transfer from my research experience to date.  My PhD focused on regional clustering in the Greater Dublin Area and was based on a framework of theories that support regional development, competiveness and growth. I spent 12 months with the IMDO which is a regional intermediary dedicated to the development and promotion of Ireland as an international competitive location for transportation and logistical maritime industries. My role involved liaising with industry to inform government on best practice for the point of policy intervention for the development of the industry. My next research position provided me with exposure to entrepreneurs and SMEs in a regional context which has further motivated my research interests in the area of regional studies. The research role focused on learning based networking and knowledge transfer and learning between entrepreneurs. The role required extensive data collection with monthly observations supported by further research calibrated through focus groups, evaluations, interviews and case studies and key findings were published by the project in a book entitled Learning by Linking in late 2011. My current position on an Interreg IVC project called KT Force aims to improve the effectiveness of regional development policies in the areas of innovation and the knowledge transfer, through the exchange, sharing and transfer of experience, knowledge and good practices between European regional and local authorities. The position has allowed me to gain valuable experience in co-ordinating an EU project with multiple political and operational partners.

Marine Institute/ EU National Development Plan Funded PhD in Maritime Clusters  (2004-2007)

Title: The Potential for Clustering of the Maritime Transport Sector in the Greater Dublin Region. Supervised by Prof. Michael Roe, Chair of Shipping and Logistics at the University of Plymouth.

Aim: To investigate the potential development of a maritime cluster in the greater Dublin region and to determine any relevant policies to encourage clustering.

Method: Extensive literature review of economic clustering theories, agglomerations economic, population ecology, industrial district theory and Porters competitive advantage, international maritime clusters and policies for regional growth. Conducted probing interviews with industry experts to explore subject area and recruited appropriate national and international experts for inclusion in the Delphi Study.

Implication: In the GDR, the co-location of capital port and capital city has given the impression of the GDR as a potential cluster, but it possibly lacks certain non quantifiable soft characteristics that encourage industries to clusters. Therefore any point of policy intervention based on cluster theory to enhance the clustering of the industry may be futile.

Practicalities: I worked in isolation which required a strict focus and an ability to work under my own initiative and enthusiasm. I was successful in my application and management of the PhD project by delivering a substantial piece of work within an agreed time frame of 3 years and within my budget constraints. Under my own initiative I was able to apply and solve problems within the design of the project in terms of research content and validity, time management, technical writing and the construction of a large volume of work (90,000 words). The process provided me with the skill to be mentally and emotionally fit to undertake a large volume of work over a long period of time.

Achieving an international recognised standard of research and developing abilities for effective communication.

Submitted papers to international conferences and presented at both national and international peer reviewed conferences. Developed relationships and maintaining contacts with interest parties in order to develop awareness of work within the industry internationally and to seek out opportunities for future collaboration. Engaged in personal and professional development by attended and participating in research groups that challenge and contest individual work. This thought me to learn how to listen properly, how to communicate my ideas and facilitated my capacity to logically argue, debate and discuss problems with research design, implementation, data collection and presentation of findings.

Teaching

National College of Ireland

Lectured in Ship Operations and Management and Marine Policy, Insurance and Law on the Bsc. Maritime Management degree course.

Professional

Past EU Projects

KT Force is an EU Interreg IVC project that aims to enhance knowledge transfer practices and policies within its partner regions based upon the thematic areas of Technology Licensing, Spin-Off Creation & Entrepreneurship and University-Industry Relations.

Aim: The aim KT Force is to improve the effectiveness of regional development policies in the areas of innovation and the knowledge transfer, through the exchange, sharing and transfer of experience, knowledge and good practices between European regional and local authorities. The objective of the KT Force research project is to improve local and regional innovation policies and the transfer of best practices at both operational and political levels by focusing on three pre-determined themes associated with knowledge transfer namely, technology licensing (TL), spin-off creation and entrepreneurship (SCE) and university-industry relations (UIR).

Method: Data collection included both qualitative and quantitative methods such as surveys; exchange of experience through peer-to peer learning which  incorporated a significant amount of dialogue, discussion, debate, and the sharing of knowledge and experiences between partners which was further supported by visits to each research partner region in order to experience first-hand practices and policies within that region. Quantitative approaches included the application of Total Factor Productivity (TFP) of innovation Indicators from the EU Innovation Scoreboard and Eurostat.

Implication: The application of TFP along with the innovation indicators from the EU Innovation scoreboard provides an effective means for each region to create an innovation roadmap that provides regional stakeholders with a structured tool and rigours framework to guide their efforts on the immediate needs of a given region. In this research the regional innovation roadmap specifically focused on the aspects of knowledge transfer addressing the sub-themes of TL, SCE and UIR.

The Sustainable Learning Networks in Ireland and Wales (SLNIW) project was a longitudinal study part funded by INTERREG 4A Ireland Wales programme 2007-2013 and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Aim:  A longitudinal study conducted over a three year period established six learning networks consisting of over 105 entrepreneurs and SME owner/managers. The principal objective of the study is to understand what makes networks work in order to advise and inform on practice for the creation of sustainable self-facilitated learning networks. The study also investigated the effect of gender and culture on the networking process.

Method: Observation was the core methodological approach and 324 hours of observations was conducted over the course of the study. Further data collected during the study consisted of pre-start interviews for network selection, monthly evaluations, six monthly evaluations, focus groups, various self-reported measures, focus groups, semi-structured interviews, case studies and a project impact study.

Implication: The establishment of six self-facilitated learning based entrepreneurial networks in Ireland and Wales. The findings of the research were disseminated in the project book Learning by Linking which incorporates a guide for the establishment and development of learning networks for entrepreneurs. The implication of creating self-sustaining learning networks for entrepreneurs is that the network becomes a supportive force that helps entrepreneurs to solve their own business problems through the experience within the network. If learning networks can become sustainable they can provide lasting benefits to the individual entrepreneur and the regional economy in which they locate.

Researcher at the Irish Marine Development Office (IMDO)

The IMDO is a national body dedicated to the development and promotion of Ireland as an international competitive location for transportation, logistical and maritime industries. My role in the IMDO was to provide analytical, theoretical and logical support to the agencies key operations with both domestic and international programmes of development.

Publications

O’Gorman, B and Brett, V. (2014) A road map for regional innovation: A Technovation example, in Proceedings of the 59th Annual Conference of the International Council for Small Business, Dublin, 11th-14th June

Brett, V., O’ Gorman, B., and Afonso, O. (2014) A road map for regional innovations, in  Proceedings of the University Industry Interaction Conference, Barcelona, April 23rd-25th.

Brett, V., O’ Neill, A. and O’Gorman, B. (2014) Observing entrepreneurs in networks: reflecting on the relationship between the researcher and the participants’, Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp.275–287.

Brett, V., O’Brien, T., and O’Gorman, B. (2013) KT Force – Towards Innovative Regions. Regional Studies Conference on the Role of Universities in Regional Development, Waterford Institute of Technology, Oct 30th. 

O’Gorman, B., and Brett, V. (2012) Learning networks in a regional context: The SLNIW story, Regions, No, 286, Issue 2, pp 4-7.

Power, J., Brett, V., Mullally, M., O’Gorman, B and Fuller-Love, N. (2012) Sowing the seeds of success: The diversification and development of Aisling Designs, in Proceedings of the 15th Annual Conference of the Irish Academy of Management, National University, Maynooth, Ireland, Sept 5th-7th.

Brett, V., O’Neill, A., O’Gorman, B., Fuller-Lover., N. (2012) Observing entrepreneurs in learning networks: reflecting on the relationship between the researcher and the participants, in 15th Uddevalla Symposium, University of Algarve, Portugal. June 14th-16th.

Brett, V., Mullally, M., O’Gorman, B. (2012) Taking action for regional based entrepreneurs. Action Research Colloquium. Waterford Institute of Technology. Waterford, Ireland. May 24th.

Power, J., Brett, V., O’Gorman, B. And Fuller-Love, N. (2012) Establishing sustainable entrepreneurial learning networks: A longitudinal study, in Proceedings of the 2012 International Conference on International Business (ICIB). University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece, May 17th-19th.

Brett, V., Mullally, M and O’Gorman, B. (2012) The role of action research in the development of sustainable learning networks: Lessons learned from the Sustainable Learning Networks in Ireland and Wales Project. Action Learning: Research and Practice, Vol 9, No 2, pp125-143.

SLNIW (2011) Learning by Linking Establishing Sustainable Business Learning Networks. Oak Tree Press: Cork.

Power, J., Brett, V., Sinnott, E., O’ Gorman, B., and Fuller-Love, B. (2011) A longitudinal study examining the development of entrepreneurial learning networks. RENT XXV Research in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Conference. University of Nordland, Bodo, Norway, November 16th-18th.

Mullally, M, Brett, V., O’ Gorman, B., Carr, J and Fuller-Love, N. (2011) Facilitating trust among entrepreneurs’ to access tacit knowledge: The SLNIW Story in the 12th European Conference on Knowledge Management. University of Passau, Germany, 1st-2nd September.

Power, J., Brett, V., Fuller-Love, N., O’Gorman, B. (2011) Do opposites attract? The interpersonal circumplex of behaviour in learning networks in 14th Uddevalla Symposium on Entrepreneurial Knowledge, Technology and Transformation of Regions. Bergamo, Italy, June 16th18th.

Mullally, M., Brett, V., O’Gorman, B. (2011) The importance of trust to facilitate knowledge sharing within business learning networks. Action Research Colloquium, Waterford Institute of Technology. Waterford, Ireland. June 9th-10th.

Brett, V., and O’Gorman, B. (2011) The role of Higher Education Institutes as intermediaries in regional economic enhancement in 4th International Conference for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Regional Development, Macedonia, 5th-7th May.

Brett, V and O’Gorman, B. (2010) Higher Education and Universities: The role of SLNIW in promoting regional economic growth: A theoretical perspective. SLNIW Seminar the Road to Self-Facilitating Networks. Thursday October 14th, Wexford. Ireland.

Brett, V and Roe, M. (2010) The potential for clustering of the maritime transport sector in the Greater Dublin Region. Maritime Policy and Management, Vol 37, (1), pp1-16.

Brett, V and Roe, M. (2008) Globalisation, governance, maritime clusters and the role of the state, in proceeding of the  International Association of Maritime Economists Conference on Sustainability in International Shipping and Logistics and the China Factor. Dalian, China, April 2nd- 4th.

Brett, V and Roe, M. (2007) The potential for clustering in the Greater Dublin Region: Analysing maritime clusters through Delphi, in proceedings of the International Association of Maritime Economists Conference on Challenges and Trends in Shipping Markets and Investments and Policies. Athens, July 4th-6th.

Brett, V. (2005) Developing Ireland’s Maritime Cluster. Marine Institute Conference, Galway, Ireland, November 2005.

Brett, V. (2008) Clustering in Ports. Dublin Port, Irish Aid and UNCTAD. Presentation on Training for Trade Programme. Dublin Port. April 2008.

Brett, V. (2005) Maritime Clusters and Ireland: A Case for Action. Irish Ports Association Conference. Faithlegg House, Co. Waterford, Ireland. September 30th.